Thriving workplaces don’t happen by accident. Executives and workplace managers must understand their workplace occupancy and use these insights to adapt their space. When they do this successfully, they can create a vibrant environment where employees can create meaningful connections, foster creativity, increase collaboration, and drive better business outcomes. But none of this is possible without a comprehensive picture of the workplace.
In the second post of our workplace utilization and data series, we’ll share four essential strategies you can use to ensure the accuracy and actionability of your workplace data. This is the first critical step to ensuring you have the insights you need to augment your space and reap all of the benefits of bringing your employees together.
Miss our last post? Check it out here to learn how facilities and real estate directors can use workplace data to optimize their space and gain accurate insight into their occupancy to drive better, more cost-effective decisions.
The benefits of a well-design workplace
Before we dive into the strategies for improving your workplace data, let’s talk about why a well-designed workplace is important. By crafting an environment that promotes collaboration and security, you can not only have a direct impact on your company’s bottom line. You can:
- Avoid costs associated with non-compliance and security breaches: Staying on top of workplace compliance regulations is not only important to mitigate risk—it’s essential to avoid significant penalties associated with non-compliance and the failure to achieve certification. Similarly, solid workplace security reduces the likelihood of a breach and theft of your intellectual property, which could also have large financial consequences.
- Increase operational efficiency while reducing costs: By streamlining your company’s day-to-day workplace operations—from food and beverage services to maintenance and security processes—you can save considerable time and money.
- Save on real estate costs: Armed with accurate occupancy data, you can right-size your company’s leased space and choose to sublease unused areas. This reduces buildout costs and enables your team to allocate its resources more efficiently.
- Reduce costs associated with employee turnover and disengagement: A well-designed workplace bolsters employee retention and satisfaction, amplifying their contributions to the business. If your organization hosts client meetings onsite, a great environment can also foster strong client relationships.
By addressing compliance and security costs, operational efficiencies, real estate savings, and employee engagement, you turn your workspace into a strategic asset that drives your organization’s success. Now that you know the importance of a well-designed workplace, let’s talk about how you can improve your space and operations to reap these benefits.
4 strategies for optimizing workplace occupancy
Your occupancy data isn’t just a collection of numbers—it’s a valuable resource that holds the key to unlocking the full potential of your space and business. Let’s take a look at what you can do to ensure employees engage with your workplace so you have the data you need to adapt it.
1. Consolidate workplace solutions to ensure employee adoption
The first step you need to take to ensure accurate data is to consolidate your workplace solutions. Companies today struggle with too many outdated tools and technologies. At the same time, they’re being asked to supply executives with new data to validate their spend and prove the effectiveness of their strategies. Rather than gaining a clear understanding of their workplace context, managers are left frustrated and uncertain about how to optimize their space and spend.
In fact, a recent survey revealed that workplace managers go to great lengths to manually collect their data, including pulling it from multiple sources (64%), contacting external vendors (48%), and relying on spreadsheets to bring it all together (45%). For example, to understand their workplace occupancy, a manager might have to pull data from their room booking software, access control system, and visitor management system. They may even have to contact external support for assistance pulling the data. Then, they’d have to spend even more time to consolidate and double-check it for accuracy.
So, what’s the solution? Companies need a simple intuitive workplace solution that fits into the flow of how employees work. With a streamlined solution, employees can easily register to come onsite, and find and book space they need, whether that’s from their computer or mobile device. A simple, intuitive experience increases employee adoption, leading to more insights for leaders, smarter workplace decision-making, and a better onsite experience. On the flip side, neglecting the user experience lessens employee adoption, making it difficult for leaders to gather the data they need to make critical space decisions, optimize costs, and improve the onsite experience.
2. Establish a clear in-office policy
Once a centralized system is in place, employers need to ensure their employees leverage the workplace on a regular basis. Why? Because employee attendance and workplace data have a symbiotic relationship. As employees use the workplace more, managers gather insights to optimize their space. This means a better workplace for employees, cost savings for employers, improved collaboration, higher productivity, and better business outcomes.
To establish the right in-office policy for your company, you should leverage occupancy and space usage data to determine the best days for teams and departments to work onsite. That way, when employees come into the workplace, the people they work closest with will be there, too. This promotes collaboration and employee engagement, which are crucial to overall company productivity. Be sure to analyze data insights on a regular basis to understand patterns in occupancy and determine how closely employees are following your policy.
Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economics professor and workplace expert, says establishing “anchor days”—when teams and departments require their employees to work onsite—can help companies provide a better workplace experience. “For many teams this will likely mean two or three days a week in the office, probably Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday given how popular Monday and Friday are for working from home. These become social, vibrant, and lively days at work.”
“For many teams this will likely mean two or three days a week in the office, probably Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday given how popular Monday and Friday are for working from home. These become social, vibrant, and lively days at work.”
3. Create tailored employee experiences
Next, focus on creating tailored employee experiences. One way you can do this is by incorporating their preferences into space layout and design using your workplace data insights. For example, if your meeting room data shows that employees prefer booking smaller rooms, you might convert some of your conference rooms into their preferred space type. By meeting the needs of your employees, you can help boost their onsite presence. This in turn drives more engagement, feeds your workplace platform more data, and gives you more insights for continuous improvements.
Another way you can tailor the onsite experience is by ensuring employees who visit another location have a seamless experience from the moment they step into the lobby. Often, when an employee visits an unfamiliar location, gaining building access and becoming familiar with the space can be a struggle. This not only wastes time, it leads to a poor onsite experience.
This was the case for one major technology company. The workplace platform they used led to a disjointed and frustrating experience for employees. Once they adopted a unified workplace platform, they empowered their employees to navigate every aspect of the workplace with ease, allowing them to make the most of their time onsite.
4. Promote collaboration by optimizing and securing your space
While security and collaboration may seem like two separate aspects of workplace management, the reality is they’re intricately intertwined. Employees want to know that where they work is secure by design. One way you can prove that you take their safety seriously is by implementing an access control system to keep your people, property, and network safe. By doing this, you can easily see who’s onsite at any given time and ensure that everyone who steps foot inside the workplace meets your entrance criteria.
You can take access control a step further to foster onsite collaboration. For example, you can configure your workplace platform and access control system to work together to notify admins when a meeting space has reached its capacity.
Finally, to promote collaboration onsite, you should utilize data insights to tailor desk assignments and establish the types of collaborative areas your employees prefer. When employees have access to spaces that encourage teamwork and interaction, their engagement and productivity levels rise, contributing to a thriving workplace culture.
You can also use this data to eliminate redundancies and maximize the use of your workspace. For example, you might find that your employees rarely book space to collaborate on the top floor of your building, preferring instead to use the ground floor. Knowing this, you can convert your top floor into heads-down spaces and dedicate the ground floor to collaboration. This will ensure no space is too crowded, which can be distracting and limit productivity, or too empty, which can lower collaboration opportunities and demotivate employees from wanting to work onsite.
By understanding your company’s workplace occupancy, you can adapt your space to create an onsite culture that promotes productivity and efficiency. Just as important, you can help ensure that employees enjoy coming into the workplace to meet with coworkers and do great work that drives your business forward. If you’re just getting started, this might seem like a lot of work. But by using the strategies we outlined in this piece, you can create a thriving workplace in no time. Just remember: it all starts with accurate, unified workplace data.
In our next post of the series, we’ll highlight how today’s companies are rethinking the workplace experience and occupancy so you can stay informed about the latest strategies to improve your space.
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