Returning to the office is going to have its challenges and Facility managers are well aware of this. Let’s take a look at what the future of the office might hold.

A lot of Facility Management goes undetected. In many ways, FM is like a benevolent invisible hand that keeps the office and the building running smoothly. But now that the pandemic has hit and everyone is more aware of health and safety at the office, the importance of managing offices and facilities has taken centre stage. How should facility managers now act?

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Challenges facing Facility Managers when we return to the office

Readjustment phase

There are numerous concerns, all made worse by the gnawing uncertainty that the pandemic has brought about. While we’ve lived through the first shock of getting used to working from home, we know that a second adjustment phase is around the corner when employees return to the office again.

Respecting health and safety regulations

How will we organise employee office working schedules, especially considering that we want to maintain social distancing in the office? And how can we arrange and rotate working schedules to optimise office space usage and maintain employee health and wellbeing? How should cleaning schedules be adjusted? And what should your future office space portfolio look like?

Changing user needs

There has also been a shift in how employees view the office. It’s no longer just a place to go in order to single-mindedly get work done. Rather, employees have started to value workplace experience, connection, and flexibility.

That is to say, employees are looking for workplaces that add to their wellbeing, and that provide communal areas that permit them to connect and build relationships with others more easily. Flexibility simply means that employees would like more control over their schedules and how and where they work. For example, an employee might want to spend the first half of her day working from home, because that’s where she finds she can concentrate better. For the last half of the day, she might want to have a meeting with a colleague – perhaps in a satellite office, perhaps at head offices.

Offering more flexibility and control to employees sounds simple enough, but as facility manager, you might know how complex this could potentially be.

Hybrid working: facility management the smart and safe way

First, there is the matter of giving access to the building and tracing who comes and goes. You need to know who is where for several reasons: (1) Limiting the amount of individuals within office spaces for social distancing. (2) In case of a COVID-19 infection, for tracking and notifying purposes. (3) You need to be able to tell who’s where, so that guests can find their hosts, or so that employees can see who’s in the office in order to decide when they need to come into work. (4) Office security. (5) And finally, knowing when certain individuals with relevant or important skills are on site, such as security, or individuals with first aid or crisis management knowledge.

Second, flexible working introduces a challenge to FM in the sense that it changes the way people use buildings. As such, Facility Managers will need to gather new data on building occupancy, and adjust cleaning and facility management accordingly. In addition, Facility Managers will want to get an overview of building costs once flexible working has been effectively implemented.

But how should one go about implementing flexible working and obtaining the relevant data? One might opt for the phased and staggered approach. For example, group A works on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and group B on Wednesdays and Fridays. However, such a manual approach is ineffective, does not give employees the control they desire, and will bring about added problems, such as employee subgroups or cliques forming.

Why facility managers should consider using software to make the return to the office safer

Luckily, there are tools and technical solutions available that address exactly these kinds of problems. Workero’s workspace management software is one of these. With it, you can limit how many desks/offices can be booked per day, thus managing the number of people on site. As such, you have control over health and safety measures within the building, all while giving employees/building occupants the freedom to choose when they want to book a desk, office, or meeting room. Flexible working thus happens more organically, yet in a responsible and structured way.

In addition, our software gives you real-time data on building occupancy, thus making it easier to determine cleaning and maintenance needs. It goes without saying that all guests and employees are registered when entering the building. Employees and guests receive check-in and check-out time notifications for further control. Such a system tightens security, makes it easy to track and notify people in case of COVID-19 outbreaks, and our software allows you to send push notifications to warn building occupants in case of fire or other emergency.

Since our software follows people in real-time in the office, it also gives you an oversight of those individuals who have special skills (first aid, security, crisis management, etc.) that are on site. This feature also helps employees by giving them an overview of what’s happening in the office, what areas and desks are available, who is there, and who is sitting where, so that they can decide which day to come in, based on practical measures and availability on any given moment.

Finally, our software will give you much needed data on the actual cost of your building per department or per square meter. As such, you can plan ahead and make recommendations on the company’s future office space needs and uses.

Don’t let uncertainty and disruption defeat you. Click here for a cloud-based and on-premise office management software that is easy to use and takes the guesswork out of facility management.