It’s clear to all of us that the the past year has prompted changes to the way we work that will be with us for a long time to come. In particular, the positives that many employees enjoyed from being sent to work from home instead of from the office has led to a surge in demand for more flexible working models.
According to the Pulse of the American Worker Survey, 87% of Americans who have had to work remotely during the pandemic want to continue doing so at least once a week on a permanent basis. This scale of change will have major consequences for offices, in terms of who uses them, when and how.
Businesses must be prepared to adapt offices in the long-term so that they are hubs for collaboration and team-building. They must also be equipped to make changes to evolve and reshape workplaces as business and employee demands change. Technology is essential to making this future a practical, sustainable reality, and this blog details five areas where it can be applied to support a successful future of work strategy:
1. Make workspace booking easy
If employees only intend to work from the office some of the time, then giving each of them a dedicated desk would be a very inefficient use of space. A shared workstation model is therefore more appropriate, but employees need to know that when they travel into the office, the workstation they need is ready and waiting for them for the time period they need it.
Workspace booking software helps here, especially when it comes with mobile app integration. Employees are then able to search for the type of workspace they need, and book it for their desired time period, in just a few moments. They can then rest assured they won’t end up making a wasted journey by travelling in, only to find that all desks have been taken by other employees.
2. Integrate everything an employee needs
Of course, desk spaces are only one of the many facilities and resources that an employee might need during a day in the office. There are many others that employees would need reliable access to: meeting rooms (and the audio-visual equipment within them), private booths for calls, parking spaces, storage lockers and so on.
A good tech-based solution will encompass all of these resources and spaces, and make them as easily searchable and bookable as a workstation. That way, employees can plan out their entire working day before they even leave home in the morning.
3. Connect distributed workforces
Flexible working models can easily pose challenges around collaboration. With different people working in different locations at different times, it can quickly become difficult to keep track of who is where. This confusion can become a major barrier to easy teamwork and communication between colleagues.
The ideal solution is to bring the schedules of every employee into the same place where workspaces are booked. If one employee needs to work with a particular co-worker, they can search for them within the workspace management solution, find the workspace that has been booked, and book their own nearby (assuming that it’s available). This takes the planning of office trips for flexible working beyond employees’ own arrangements to encompass those of their co-workers and team-mates.
4. Understand utilization
All these bookings and schedules within the solution generates huge amounts of data, and it can be incredibly beneficial for businesses if that data is put to good use. With a good analytics tool, facilities teams and senior management can find out who uses which kinds of spaces, which spaces are in more demand than others, and if any pinch points exist where demand for certain spaces is outstripping supply.
Gaining these insights can then help businesses make informed, data-driven decisions about how to change workspace layouts, and whether or not to scale the amount of certain types of workspace up or down to meet demand.
5. Adopt fluid workspaces
That concept of using data to work out how to change offices shouldn’t be an occasional procedure. With the business world changing so quickly, and with employee expectations evolving all the time, it’s vital that businesses take a constantly shifting approach to what their workplaces look like and what they’re used for.
Integrated technology that takes every element of workspace usage into account is the only way to achieve this. The best solutions will be customisable, to the point where floorplans and layouts can be uploaded into the solution, and easily changed when certain areas are repurposed.
Ultimately, employees will expect their employers to offer some form of flexible working option. Those that don’t will find it increasingly difficult to retain existing talent, or attract new recruits. This flexibility works best when run as a single, interconnected ecosystem, and a workspace booking solution is the ideal way to achieve that.