Does this scenario sound familiar? Your company is struggling to develop policies for a return-to-work program. Employees are nervous and wary of how the “new workplace” will accommodate their work needs while keeping them healthy and safe.
Most companies have two main challenges with any type of hybrid workplace. First, HR managers must develop the “story” – when, why and how people will return to the office. This includes the number of people per day, team/department grouping, enforcing a maximum occupancy, all while keeping employees motivated.
This is no easy task, and in many cases HR is not the team that will manage the logistics on a day-to-day basis. This ominous task falls on the facility management team. This team needs to ensure adequate workspaces are available, the workspaces have the tools employees need, conference rooms are available, cleaning services are scheduled, and utilities are working in the allowed areas. Facility managers are also the first line of defense for employee complaints and concerns about the work environment. This “new workplace” environment certainly has added a great deal of stress, challenges and responsibilities.
So, what can be done to alleviate some of these extra burdens. An efficient workplace management solution can do wonders for setting up, managing and analyzing a hybrid work environment.
HR can communicate a positive message to employees indicating they have a tool that guarantees a safe working space for them while limiting occupancy; while facility managers can ensure the requested space is ready and prepared each day.
There are multiple tools out there that are in the category of workplace management solutions. When you are searching for one for your company here are 7 things to look for before you make your decision.
1. Seamless setup process
Typically falling on the facility manager, setting up and managing a hybrid workplace is in addition to their normal duties so it goes without saying that any solution needs to be easy to setup without calling in the development team. Useful features include floor map importing and 3D conversion, cloud-based access with excellent security to get by the IT obstacles, easy to add fields for workspace customization and rules that match your company policies. If they start talking about 1000’s of dollars for setup fees, you might want to rethink your choice.
2. Easy to use for employees
Employees need a solution that is ultra-user friendly to fully embrace the solution. The last thing a facility manager wants is for questions and complaints about the tool. Any software tool is supposed to make life easier, not more difficult. Employees should be able to access it easily from a desktop or mobile device. Many employees wait until the last minute to book a workspace, sometimes not until they are at the door. The tool needs to be quick easy and intuitive. Select a few employees as a user group during a free trial to try it before purchasing.
Not all companies have the same rules, layouts or goals. A solution should be highly customizable to enable:
- Upload of company logo and branding to truly internalize the solution
- Set up of occupancy and area rules that limit the # of occupants, reserve workspaces for specific teams, or setup policies for visitor registration.
- Creation of options for each workspace type to ensure employees maximize their efficiency. For example, in booking conference rooms you might want to add options such as white board, speakerphone, video capable. For desk reservations, you might want to add # of monitors, keyboard/mouse, phone, even temperature preferences. Why is this important? Think about it. Many of your employees have become accustomed to working from home and enjoying the benefits that come with this scenario. They can truly “customize” their workspace and have their favorite chair, the perfect temperature, a preferred keyboard/mouse, even a large monitor out on the sunroom. When they return to the office, it is important to create a positive experience for employees who already might be reluctant to return.
4. Workplace not just workspace management
The workplace is more than a desk. For many companies it encompasses limited parking, lunch/break rooms, conference rooms, visitors/guest accommodations and even company shuttles.
Check that the solution you choose can manage all your workplace areas not only for what you have today but what you might have in the future. If an employee arrives and cannot find an adequate parking space, their day is already frustrating before they even enter the door.
Your company already has approved solutions for email, calendars and meeting invites. A workplace management solution should not force them to change processes but rather integrate and enhance them. Whether your company uses Microsoft, Google or other platforms, ensure that the tool you choose seamlessly integrates with the way your employees work today.
For example, booking a meeting room should automatically integrate with their email and calendar. After the conference room is chosen and booked, it automatically should create an instance in their calendar where they can then invite the participants.
6. Cost effective
This one might sound obvious but, in many scenarios, where a hybrid workspace solution was not budgeted for, cost becomes even more important. Understand all the costs involved with the solution not just the monthly fees. Understand if there are fees for setup, training, floor map importing or for additional customization. If a lower cost, proven solution has everything you need, why pay more for something with unnecessary functions that do not apply to you.
A hybrid workplace has thrown a monkey wrench into facility planning. Previously, a company knew how many employees it had, how many it was hiring and could forecast facility needs with a high level of accuracy. Today, with employees utilizing facilities only on certain days/times, this exercise become more complex. Once more, data used for making these types of decisions has not been historically available, so a data-based decision is difficult. If you are going to implement a workplace management solution, it should track, measure and report on key occupancy metrics so you can determine if you need to downsize or increase your workplace.
The hybrid work environment does present challenges but luckily technology is here to help. Start by analyzing your current needs, then use this guide to evaluate and select the workplace management solution that meets your needs at an affordable price.
For a free 30-day trial of Deskbee Workplace Management Solution, click here.