An IWMS, or Integrated Workplace Management System, is a scalable, cloud-based software platform that helps track virtually every aspect of the workplace and a corporate real estate portfolio.
IWMS software is typically used by facility managers (FMs), space managers, real estate professionals, and leadership teams to both manage (and sometimes optimize) assets, offices, and facilities at large.
By consolidating a large variety of workplace management tasks into one accessible platform, IWMS software can help manage the day-to-day operations of the workplace, while also collecting and presenting workplace data analytics into actionable reports. These reports can then be used by CFOs, HR professionals, leadership, and other decision-makers, supporting a wide range of goals and initiatives (improving employee experience and real estate optimization are two of the most common).
In this article, we explore the evolution of IWMS software and why it’s becoming one of the most important hybrid working tools today. This includes the five broad pillars this software usually provides. Additionally, we’ll review tips on how to choose the best platform for your organization.
We’ll also explore what to expect from Integrated Workplace Management System solutions in the future.
Insights, tactics, and strategies from today’s workplace
leaders on how they’re shifting the office to better
suit employees and company goals
Just like the name suggests, an IWMS combines a variety of workplace management solutions into one (hopefully user-friendly) platform. Like we’ll cover further below, these platforms are quickly becoming some of the most crucial hybrid workplace technology going.
At the most basic level, this is software to streamline the vast majority of FM responsibilities. FMs and other workplace planners can use it to track assets, store floor plans, manage moves, and keep everything running smoothly overall. These features can also help improve space optimization and service management.
An IWMS also allows users to manage their infrastructure and real estate portfolio. Storing leases in one place, tracking important dates, and collecting and synthesizing data to maximize budgets and normalize lease costs are all more than handy features.
By helping manage what directly impacts workplace experience—like room and desk bookings, workplace AI, and request management—an IWMS can also help create more workplace agility and stability at the same time.
Finally, one of the most important elements of IWMS software solutions is that they should be scalable. This means extra integrations and modules should be easy to add, to meet the unique needs of each user.
This is why OfficeSpace, for example, includes workplace Slack and Teams integration out-of-the-box. This is along with robust API and webhooks that allow users to customize the platform based on their particular needs.
Facility management solutions have changed dramatically in the past decades—and even more so in the past few years.
Specifically, thanks to the emergence of hybrid work, IWMS software has also emerged as some of the most valuable new technology in the workplace. Hybrid offices are increasingly common in today’s world, of course. They’re also increasingly challenging workplaces to manage.
FMs today often have the task of improving workplace experience, increasing space utilization, and/or implementing a flexible work arrangement like hot desking or office hoteling. To accomplish this, they must be able to quickly and easily update floor plans, and collect and synthesize data on how workspaces are actually performing. In other words, they need cutting-edge IWMS solutions.
But even before the pandemic and the hybrid pivot, companies were seeking software that could help with portfolio management and other business processes. Simpler software options were available to help with more simple space and office move management, lease management, and the related issues.
Specifically, in the past, FMs might have turned to one of the following previous iterations of FM software.
Computer-Aided Facility Management (CAFM) software was the world’s first foray into workplace management technology. It was typically used for managing space and assets. FMs used CAFM systems to store floor plans and perform key tasks, like viewing occupancy and tracking assets. While an important first step, CAFMs are large, clunky, and have limits. This is why they’ve been outdated and outpaced by IWMS software and other more modern solutions.
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) and Computerized Maintenance Management Information System (CMMIS), both names of which are used interchangeably, helped track assets and maintenance tasks. This made it beneficial to organizations with heavy equipment usage, and/or those that owned their own buildings. A CMMS was primarily focused on maintenance needs. Therefore, it lacked the versatility that most FMs needed to manage all aspects of the workplace. It was therefore common for FMs to use a CMMS and a CAFM in tandem.
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) refers to the process of managing the lifecycle of physical assets and equipment. This includes things such as mechanical equipment, computers, and furniture. The goal of EAM is to reduce costs and maximize asset lifetime. It does this by improving asset quality, efficiency, health, and environmental safety. FMs will also typically use an EAM solution to see where assets are before, during, and after a move. Note that FMs can now manage most (if not all) of these tasks under the IWMS umbrella.
Finally, let’s not forget the fallback workplace management solution, used by past and present FMs alike. Pen and paper. Using Photoshop and CAD to manually draw floor maps. Painstakingly transferring data from one Excel spreadsheet to another. While we’d never dream of using outdated technology for most business processes, somehow many FMs are still pigeonholed into antiquated options like these.
These older methods may still work for very small facilities. And there will likely always be value in ‘walking the floor’ to get a feel for how things are running. But as soon as a company starts to add in any amount of complexity—like multiple floors, say, or varying hybrid schedules—the more constricting these manual processes will be. And if it’s too hard and/or time consuming for FMs and other workplace managers to make changes to systems, this can have a domino effect both within the Facility Management department, and within the workspace at large.
This is why more and more companies are waking up to the need for modern workplace management software systems. This is especially true for those looking to make more informed decisions for their real estate strategy and lock in cost savings down the road.
When choosing an IWMS, many FMs first turn to the Gartner IWMS Magic Quadrant. It’s a well-regarded rating system that acts like a market guide for IWMS software. The Magic Quadrant breaks various offerings down by their completeness of vision. I.e.: how well they innovate to meet current and future needs. It also breaks down their ability to execute. I.e.: their financing and long-term viability.
While an important resource, the Magic Quadrant is just one small tool in a decision-maker’s toolkit when it comes to selecting the right IWMS. More important will be the process of collaborating with different departments (often HR and IT). This is to get a better picture of current and potential future needs of everyone across the organization.
To choose an IWMS, FMs (or other decision-makers) will ultimately need to understand what problems they’re trying to solve in the workplace. This, of course, is along with what workplace data they need to do so.
Does leadership need them to cut real estate and/or energy expenses? Could employee experience use a dramatic boost? Do you have the right mix of modern meeting rooms and heads-down spaces? Will your new system need to support any hybrid work change strategies? Collect the right workplace metrics to inform any planned workplace transformations? Knowing the answers to these questions ahead of time can help narrow down the decision-making process.
Meanwhile, while it’s specifically designed for facility management maintenance, think about who else will be using the IWMS platform. And why they need it. Is the user interface user-friendly? For example, does it include desk booking software and a platform that employees will actually use? Will managers in your workplace need the ability to manage seating assignments and working neighborhoods? Or will real estate professionals and CFOs need insight into where people may be wasting money across the portfolio? And will leadership need clear and comprehensible reports they can use when developing workplace strategies?
Workplaces are changing quickly, and it’s harder to benchmark than ever before. The right IWMS can help an organization both eliminate the friction of day-to-day office use, and collect and synthesize complex data about their spaces.
For this reason, companies may have their own criteria beyond the Magic Quadrant when trying to find the right IWMS.
IWMS software should allow FMs to manage their workplace and collaborate to plan and manage every aspect of the workplace.
Generally speaking, these teams will need tools to support:
Specifically, good IWMS systems will have software solutions that fall under one of the following 5 categories:
First and foremost, an Integrated Workplace Management System has to allow for—naturally—integrated workplace management. In other words, it needs to help with all tasks related to facility maintenance and management. At the most basic level, this means keeping facilities and workplaces running smoothly, and keeping employees happy and productive.
Part of this process requires gathering workplace data that FMs can use to boost space utilization and other efficiencies. It also typically involves some amount of move management and request management.
Certain tools in this area will have immediate uses and benefits for employees, too. For example, desk booking software can be part of an IWMS. If desk booking tools are user-friendly (and ideally available via mobile app), then it will make the workplace dramatically more accessible and useful for employees.
Ideally, IWMS software will also collect desk (and room) booking data about how employees are interacting with their spaces. This data can then be combined with other data sources (like employee badge data and WiFi logs) to create a fuller picture of true office use. This will become increasingly important as more and more companies look to implement hybrid and/or flexible working. The better their IWMS, the better they’ll be able to overcome any of the challenges of hybrid working they may face.
Some IWMS may also provide wayfinding solutions, like wayfinding kiosks that integrate with wayfinding signs. These can help employees navigate a dynamic workplace that is constantly in flux. A Visual Directory, which helps employees find the people, places, and resources they need, can be particularly helpful here.
This is especially true if employees can use it to see not only where their colleagues are, but when they’ll be in the office, too. This will make it easier for them to plan their schedules to boost their in-office collaboration time.
Given the demands for more collaboration spaces in the workplace, FMs might use an IWMS to provide integrated room booking. Bonus points if the IWMS integrates with meeting room digital signage.
Meanwhile, presenting real-time data about desk and room bookings can also help FMs plan their days. It can provide data around knowing which areas and/or desks will need to be serviced, when. And they can then compile all this data into meaningful reports to help leadership make better short and long term decisions for the organization at large.
In short, IWMS is about adding automation to and improving virtually any FM task you can think of. This in turn can help create a virtuous circle of space improvements, employee engagement boosts, and real estate savings.
Beyond workplace management, some FMs will also have the task of capital project management. In these cases, they may need IWMS that includes the ability to manage operations and costs in long-term capital intensive projects (like building construction).
That said, note that these types of functions are typically more useful for building owners and operators, and/or construction managers, who typically have their own systems in place.
Preventative and predictive maintenance can save companies time and money. So the more an IWMS can assist in this area, the better.
Ideally, this will mean it will help measure and monitor the lifecycle of the major systems in their building(s). Knowing when to repair versus when to replace can mean the difference between a functional workspace, versus one where things break down and everyone’s left scrambling.
Note that a centralized request management system can be a critical part of this process. When FMs can track work orders, they can start to see where common issues arise. Then, instead of band-aid fixes, they can look at more substantial repairs. Many OfficeSpace clients boost their preventative maintenance in this way.
Space planning is another key element of any successful workplace. Lease administration, lease accounting, tracking leases and critical dates, normalizing lease costs—real estate portfolio management requires lots of spinning plates. IWMS today can and should automate portfolio management to simplify this process.
Ideally, an IWMS will also help not only real estate professionals, but everyone on the team, to keep real estate costs in check without sacrificing employee experience.
Ideally, tools for office scenario planning and stack planning, along with workplace reports and analytics, will also be part of this picture.
Last but not least, with sustainability top of mind, it’s not surprising that IWMS solutions are pitching in to help out in this area, too.
An IWMS can be a key tool in creating a more efficient smart workplace. One that uses IoT sensors and other workplace AI to track and reduce energy consumption. Automating systems like lighting and HVAC means that companies don’t have to waste resources on empty spaces.
And like we’ve covered, companies can use the right IWMS to help them reduce the size of their portfolio without impacting employee experience or productivity. Doing so usually means they’ll be reducing their carbon footprint as well.
OfficeSpace provides a SaaS IWMS solution that understands and optimizes the entire office ecosystem. It’s designed to meet the needs of every stakeholder in the workplace. From empowering employees, to providing useful tools for facility managers, space planners and real estate professionals, and creating accessible dashboards and reports that leadership teams and CFOs can use for real estate forecasting—the platform is designed to meet all the needs of dynamic facilities head on.
Specifically, OfficeSpace stands out in the world of IWMS in four key ways.
OfficeSpace provides a variety of solutions for flexible work in a user-friendly, all-in-one-platform. With time-saving integrations (Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, HR Software, Single Sign-On, and more), the platform minimizes disruptions and maximize employee experience.
With integrations like Slack and Teams, automated notifications, accessibility on any platform, interactive floor plans and more, this is software your team will actually use.
Not only will this empower employees. Because they’ll actually be using the platform to check into and out of spaces, you’ll be able to collect more meaningful data about how they’re actually using the office.
OfficeSpace uses advanced workplace analytics to collect complex real-time data from desk and room reservations, badge data, and more. This data is then compiled into sophisticated out-of-the-box reports that link your cost to your usage data. Leadership, FMs, and CFOs can then use this to make smarter allocation decisions and data-informed workplace strategies.
Finally, a key feature of the OfficeSpace IWMS is simply the team that regularly acts on requests for new features and works hand-in-hand with clients to ensure things are always running smoothly. With a Floor Plan Services team that builds and updates beautiful floor plans, and a committed and responsive Customer Service Team, it’s much easier for everyone to get the support they need.
“I’ve always enjoyed how responsive and attentive OfficeSpace has been, whether it’s uploading a floor plan or making a change to something, or even just answering a question. They’ve always been very timely with those responses,” says Laurie Kidd, Director of Real Estate & Facility Operations at PacificSource.
As working becomes more complex, expect IWMS solutions to keep pace.
Like we’ve covered, the world is shifting towards more complex work arrangements. Not surprisingly, the best IWMS solutions are therefore helping to simplify this complexity and make dynamic spaces more manageable.
Hybrid and distributed work is much harder to optimize, and it makes it harder to see what’s actually happening in your workplace. Your IWMS now needs to layer data from a variety of workplace resources to help you understand what’s actually happening. And what can be improved.
“With the office becoming more complex, people need more from their data,” says Kathleen Williams, Senior Product Manager at OfficeSpace. “They need to be able to look across their information silos and break them down as much as possible.”
Beyond this, expect IWMS systems to increasingly be charged with improving employee experience.
For example, helping employees to book the right types of workspaces can help eliminate any barriers to productivity and engagement. Meanwhile, helping them to coordinate their schedules with those of their colleagues (via a Visual Directory) can help boost collaboration and culture efforts.
FMs and space planners can also start to build more purpose-driven collaborative workspaces, based on the data their IWMS collects.
Ultimately, the biggest benefit of IWMS is often its ability to help improve the hybrid workplace experience and beyond. From improved energy usage to improved employee experience and engagement, the right IWMS presents organizations with a host of benefits.
Of course, many companies first look to the financial benefits of IWMS solutions. And there’s no doubt: they can significantly reduce costs. By consolidating expensive legacy platforms into one system, optimizing real estate spending, maximizing occupancy rates, and improving maintenance management, an IWMS can have a significant, immediate, and quantifiable impact on the bottom line.
Beyond this, an IWMS can play a significant role in making the office the workplace of choice. We know from the 2023 OfficeSpace Workplace Strategy Report that workplace leaders are fairly evenly split on whether or not to mandate more office attendance. That’s due in large part to the impact that employee choice has on culture, workplace wellbeing, and talent retention and attraction efforts.
That said, the report also highlights the high value that hybrid leadership places on face-to-face collaboration, and how they want to encourage more of it (either with or without mandates).
Given this context, space planners can use data from their IWMS to determine which types of spaces support and encourage more collaboration in their workplace. The more they can then build out those types of spaces, the more likely and excited employees will be to come in—with hopefully ripple effects on collaboration and culture.
This is just one example of how an IWMS can help companies to stay agile, to support a variety of short and long term business goals.
Get a personalized demo and create a
hybrid workplace that works for everyone
IWMS stands for ‘Integrated Workplace Management System.’ Sometimes called ‘IWMS software,’ this term refers to the complex platforms that companies use to manage workplaces and facilities in a variety of contexts.
CAFM (Computer-Aided Facilities Management) and IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System) are both software systems used for managing facilities and real estate. The main difference between the two is their complexity. CAFM tends to be older and simpler software that focuses on day-to-day operations and maintenance tasks. IWMS solutions tend to be more multifaceted and comprehensive, handling day-to-day operations and tasks along with more complicated projects like move management and real estate optimization. For this reason, more people within an organization may use their IWMS to assist with decision making.
The basic difference between an IWMS (Integrated Workplace Management System) and a CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) is that an IWMS mainly focuses on workplace management, while CMMS mainly focuses on asset maintenance. What a company needs will vary on a case-by-case (and platform-by-platform) basis.
IWMS software is used across industries, by any organization looking to simplify workplace management, and/or optimize real estate, and/or improve facility management and maintenance.
Traditionally, this software was mainly used by two groups of people. First, it was used by facility managers, space planners, and other professionals tasked with managing and optimizing physical spaces. Second, it was used by real estate professionals to streamline portfolio management.
While those professionals still use IWMS, today, many more people within an organization may rely on it.
Specifically, finance teams, executives, and other stakeholders may use the data collected within their IWMS to make better strategic decisions for their facilities, real estate operations, and hybrid policies. HR professionals may also use these systems to support decision making.
Finally, employees may also use IWMS if it includes desk and room booking software. For this reason, it’s important to select a platform that is designed with end users in mind.
Photos: xavierarnau, andreswd, andreswd, praetorianphoto, Ivanko_Brnjakovic, PeopleImages, nd3000