Employees may return to work in earnest this year, but in a hybrid format. Most employees say they want to collaborate with coworkers in the office on occasion and work remotely on other occasions. But not if the experience is going to be painful owing to poor scheduling and unorganized workflow.
Hybrid workplaces bring with them a slew of difficult facility management concerns. For a successful hybrid workplace, space management technology is critical. It allows companies to collect real-time data, automate processes, and create a superior employee experience.
“Space management is much more complicated now than it was previously and will be for the foreseeable future”. – Juliana Beauvais, research manager for enterprise asset management and smart facilities at IDC, market research and advisory services firm in Needham, Mass. “For a long time, it was about accommodating volume, to make sure you had enough space for everybody. Now it is more about employee behavior. How many people will return in the office? When will those people come into the facility and what will they need to be productive? Those factors are driving the use of these automated solutions.”
“This technology is providing employers with the solution they need to safely return employees to physical workspaces, and also to design and manage those spaces in new ways for usability and to be able to maximize that time for collaboration,” said Melanie Lougee, head of employee workflow strategy at ServiceNow.
Challenges of Hybrid Work
A hybrid workplace paradigm is difficult to operate without real-time data due of its dynamic nature.
“With a different number of people coming in on different days to do different things, every facet of workspace planning is potentially fluid,” Beauvais said. “It’s a really complicated optimization problem trying to align supply and demand.”
Some of the more prevalent issues when experimenting with a hybrid work paradigm are caused by the employer’s lack of knowledge about how employees are using the space, according to Lougee.
“The organization lacks visibility into the spaces being used by employees and lacks the information needed to design newer floor plans based on real-time data and usage trends that will enable a more group-oriented productivity,” she said, “If management can access that real-time data, they can make more informed decisions about office layouts, which floors and buildings need to be opened at what times, how much food needs to be stocked in the cafeteria, what kinds of workplace cleaning schedules need to be put in place, etc.”
The issue for employees is figuring out how to best organize their office time with that of their coworkers. Both overbooking and underbooking space will result in a negative experience, reduced productivity, and frustration.