Let me be honest with you. I have seen workplaces change in my 15+ years of facility management experience. But whatever happened these past two years is different. The shift to a hybrid work model changed the fundamentals of the traditional offices.
The idea that we need to be in an office five days a week became redundant. And this new work week, which consists of time both in-office and at home, is convenient. While productivity is at an all-time high and workplace experience has a newfound definition, as a facility manager, my challenges were mounting.
When most of my workforce works remotely with flexible schedules, the office space is hardly used to its total capacity. Some desks remained empty most of the time. Certain areas in the office went out of commission. Yet, employees coming to the office complained about the lack of functional space.
While my team and I made adjustments and catered to employee requests fast – there was a lack of process in the entire system. Neither did we have a clear picture of our office space usage, nor were we entirely ready to manage a hybrid workplace.
A few months in, we realized that continuing with this approach was no longer viable. So, we put our effort into space management. And we witnessed changes.
Here is what happened when we tried space management for a week.
6 Primary Goals of Our Space Management Strategy
While crafting our space management strategy, we surveyed all our employees, regardless of their job titles, to understand their challenges better. We asked them a few basic questions. These included:
- How many days are you coming to the office?
- Would you like to book your desks prior to coming to the office?
- Do you like to work at your desk, or do you prefer to work in open spaces?
- Are you happy with the office meeting rooms and open spaces?
- Do you feel like we need more informal collaboration spaces in the office?
- Do you get a parking spot quickly?
The responses were quick and surprising. After analyzing the answers, here is a list of the goals we set:
a. Reduce office space wastage by removing desks that are not in use
b. Repurpose unused spaces by converting them into collaboration spaces
c. Optimize the parking lot
d. Ensure employee safety by maintaining social distancing protocols
e. Improve employee satisfaction and overall productivity by improving the office space
How We Planned & Implemented Our Space Management Strategy?
Once our goals were set, the road to space management strategy was simple. We enlisted the help of WorkInSync’s space management software to keep our space management efforts in line. Here is what we did.
Step 1: We wanted a 360-degree view of the office space. So, my team used WorkInSync and:
- Uploaded the floor plan and got a digitized version of the same
- Monitored each meeting room to analyze its capacity
- Took notice of desks that were potentially never in use
- Observed the parking space to recognize challenges like lack of space
Step 2: The next step in our space management strategy was to monitor space usage. WorkInSync’s space management software has a central dashboard to ease this step. We could track the number of employees in the office and the number of desks booked and used. The same happened for meeting rooms and parking spaces.
We were finally able to the following questions:
- Which spaces are used often?
- Which spaces are underused and can be done away with?
- What do the employees need more of?
Recommended Reading: WorkInSync’s space management software wins G2 Award
Step 3: Finally, it was time to modify the existing office space. With the help of WorkInSync, we did the following:
- Removed desks that were not in use or were never booked. We were left with a lot of space. So, we introduced private pods that can now be used to conduct one-on-one meetings.
- Removed the walls off of a few meeting rooms that were barely used and turned them into open collaboration spaces.
- Divided the desks into two distinct categories. The first set can be booked by the employees for a more extended period (hoteling). The second category is for employees who come to the office once in a while (hot desking).
- Relocated the cafeteria from a closed area to a more open place for employees to feel safe.
- Ensured that parking spots could be booked before visiting the office.
Challenges Faced While Implementing the New Space Management Strategy
I am being honest here again. The process of planning and implementing the space management strategy was not easy. We worked closely with our HR managers to relay the message to our employees and design our hybrid workplace policy.
This ensured everyone was on the same page and there was no confusion. Yet, there were a few hiccups.
a. To implement new software, it did take time for employees to become acquainted with the same. They did complain at first, but once they saw its benefits, they complied.
b. As I mentioned, we aligned our efforts with the HR managers. However, there was a lack of communication at times. I realized that everyone has to work together when it comes to space management.
c. There were a few technical glitches but nothing that we couldn’t manage.
d. Reimaging in your hybrid workplace can be expensive, especially when not done right.
Also Read: 7 Signs You Need Space Management Software
Observations After One Week
After a week of dedicated space management, here is everything that I observed.
a. Automate the ‘boring stuff.’ It would free up the team’s time, require fewer resources, and reduce the chances of human error.
b. A centralized database accessible to everyone on the space management team is necessary.
c. Space utilization reports are essential in a hybrid workplace. Without reports, you won’t be able to make any updates.
d. Space planning and management is a time-consuming process and needs to be thought through.
e. You need a solution to help you sail through the space allocation menace seamlessly.
Why Should You Get WorkInSync’s Space Management Software?
Managing your hybrid workspace is not easy. The process can be easier with a tool like WorkInSync’s space management software.
WorkInSync turned out to be the perfect solution to all our space management woes. It is 100% cloud-based software. So, it was effortless to configure and install. What’s more, we were able to integrate it with the tools we already used, such as Slack and Google Calendar.
Using WorkInSync’s centralized database, we could store all of our information. Any changes to the place would automatically get updated. So, if an employee booked a desk for a particular day, we could rest assured that other employees would know that it was booked. We no longer had to worry about confusion, conflicts, or miscommunication.
Effective space management is a great thing. And in my opinion, everyone should try it.