Workplace management solutions: 10 features for the post-pandemic office
Workplace management solutions will be critical for facility managers (FMs) as they help organizations return to the office post-pandemic. Facility management teams must have the tools they need to create sustainability and functionality in a complex and rapidly changing workplace.
A workplace management solution is typically a software platform that maintains the intricate systems of a modern and/or hybrid office. This includes space management and property management, and that also makes decision making much easier.
At its best, workplace management software should empower both FMs and employees to stay flexible and manage both business needs and workplace experience in an increasingly dynamic future of work.
In this article, we’ll explore how workplace management can be supported by the right software. We’ll also explore the top ten features of the best workplace management solutions currently available.
Understanding workplace management solutions
Workplace management is the management of everything within a facility—assets, services, technology, and procedures. To handle this today, organizations typically use some form of cloud-based integrated workplace management system (IWMS). This lets users manage a wide variety of tasks, including energy consumption, workplace sensor technology, real estate, infrastructure, desk sharking, lease administration, lease management, lease accounting, preventive maintenance, and booking desks and meeting rooms.
CAFM, CMMS, EAM and IWMS are all workplace management solutions that can streamline facilities management. IWMS software is the most modern. And it’s the only workplace management solution that can handle all the demands of the modern office on its own.
Increasingly, facility management is responsible for supporting complex workflows and complex work models. Just like the roles and responsibilities of FMs post-pandemic are evolving, so too is the software necessary for them to do their jobs effectively.
The future of work is hybrid—a workplace model that is flexible, productive, and invariably more difficult to manage than traditional models. FMs will therefore need sophisticated workplace management solutions as they navigate the return to the office.
10 features of the best workplace management solutions software
From a bird’s eye view, workplace management software needs to simplify and centralize logistics and communication. This way, FMs can both save time and money and create an improved employee experience.
Specifically, this means that any workplace management software solution needs to be integrated, effective, and easy-to-use anywhere. And the best workplace management software needs to encompass the following features to fully support employees and employers in the post-pandemic workplace:
Wasted space is not only costly. It’s a wasted opportunity, too. And it’s much more likely in a hybrid workplace, where many workers are remote on a regular basis.
FMs are not real estate managers. But they do need to understand how their space is being used, both in real time and over time, to be able to make data-informed decisions regarding space management. As such, any IWMS system should provide FMs with the necessary space planning tools to forecast, manage and track their space.
As we settle into the new hybrid way of work, FMs can expect regular moves both big and small. Especially as some employees move to full-time remote.
As such, move management is a critical task for FMs. And it’s best executed with an IWMS that makes it easy to collaborate, communicate, and edit floor plans.
It’s always been important for organizations to know when, where, and how their assets are being used. But in today’s world, with employees bringing home invaluable computer equipment and even office furniture, being able to track assets is essential.
That’s why the best workplace management software will make it simple to understand who has what at any given moment.
Storing floor plans and managing directories
Static seating rarely worked perfectly even in traditional offices, and it won’t work in a hybrid office. That’s why any workplace management solution needs to include an integrated way to manage and track both floor plans and office directories. With as little cumbersome admin as possible.
Ultimately, FMs need a way to track, optimize and simplify how employees find their seats. This is often best accomplished through software that supports office neighborhoods.
And an easy-to-use wayfinding system can be particularly useful in a hybrid scenario. This is where some workers will be using the office on a much less regular basis.
Making these tools readily accessible, particularly through mobile apps, will help increase employee buy-in.
Finally, throughout the pandemic, FMs also used workplace management software to create floor plans that accommodated social distancing. As we’ll cover further below, responsive floor plans that permit distancing will continue to be critical in the return to work.
Real estate management
One of the many benefits of the hybrid work model is that by requiring less office space, it can reduce both corporate real estate and associated costs. Organizations can best realize these cost savings when effective real estate portfolio management is part of their IWMS.
This type of solution can, for example, allow for space utilization which determines and tracks exactly who is using the office space, along with how and when they’re using it.
This workplace management feature is essential for long-term planning, as well as for managing day-to-day operations. By providing FMs with this type of valuable, measurable data, IWMS helps them gain insights they need to make informed decisions about their real estate.
Room and desk booking
Gone are the days of assigned desks and personalized cubicles. If hybrid work is ‘in,’ then traditional seating is ‘out.’
Instead, employees are sharing desk space in a variety of adaptable hybrid work models.
By reducing the amount of time employees spend finding, booking and checking in to workspaces, this feature can dramatically increase productivity and morale.
Workplace sensor technology
The Internet of Things (IoT) is pushing its way into the workforce. This is why future-proof IWMS solutions should already be integrating sensors. This can look like using energy management monitoring to reduce energy usage, for example.
Or, as more relevant for the hybrid and post-pandemic model, it can look like occupancy and desk sensors to give an immediate window into who is in the office.
This presents clear benefits from both a safety and cleaning perspective. But it also dovetails nicely with other move management and space utilization solutions.
FMs have always been at least partly responsible for safety in the office. This includes having emergency plans and security systems in place.
Of course, today, we have a broader understanding of what safety in the workspace truly means. Namely, FMs are now responsible for implementing health and safety requirements with enhancements. This is increasingly difficult with shared desks and workstations.
Given that an OfficeSpace survey found that employees only want to return to the office if they feel it is safe to do so, there is a new onus on IWMS to include health and safety features.
Critically, this means FMs will need an easy way to maintain social distancing at work, along with software that makes it easy to keep everyone safe while also staying compliant with any local regulations.
Reporting and analytics
If there’s one thing an FM needs above all to perform their job well, it’s data.
That’s why any IWMS solution should include detailed yet widely-accessible reports and analytics. This gives facility management teams a complete, informed picture of their facility.
Having operational reports that monitor space utilization as well as processes like building systems and facility costs can help FMs manage the workplace safely and efficiently.
Integration and automation
Perhaps it goes without saying, but the best workplace management software doesn’t just provide all these features. It provides them in an all-in-one platform to access from anywhere.
Earlier iterations of workplace management software often worked well independently, but didn’t work well with each other. For example, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CCMS) kept track of maintenance tasks and data. However, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) was still needed to manage office assets like computers and furniture.
But cumbersome, incompatible systems are no longer appropriate for complex business processes. That’s why workplace management needs to be a central integration, on the cloud.
Better workplace management solutions create a better workplace
There’s no doubt that the best workplace management solution is IWMS software.
That said, IWMS software alone isn’t enough to manage a hybrid workforce. It needs to include a host of powerful features that are easily accessible in real time, by all team members. If it’s not user-friendly, employees won’t want to engage with it. And FMs will therefore struggle to maximize its benefits.
Ultimately, the best workplace management solution is one that works everywhere your people do, with software your team will actually use.