Whether it was those energy efficiency rebates, smart planning or just luck, you’re fortunate enough to be under budget as you approach the end of the year.
Assuming you’ve already taken care of the necessities, why not get yourself and your workforce something nice?
If you’re not sure what to do with that extra facility management money, these 11 wish list items can make a big impact on without a big investment.
Comfortable Couches and Chairs - $
Designing your office to maximize productivity is one of your responsibilities as a facility management professional. Most employees are more productive (and happier) when they have the flexibility to move around the office. As more organizations move toward an activity-based working environment, it’s becoming more important than ever to have comfortable places for them to sit and work or brainstorm with others away from their desks.
Adding a couple of new couches shouldn’t raise eyebrows in your accounting department, and they could be the birthplace of some great ideas.
Standing Desks - $
Standing desks or adjustable sit-stand workstations are another good way to encourage more movement around your office. While the health benefits appear to be modest—one recent study found standing during the day burned about an extra 54 calories—the bigger benefit might be psychological. For many employees, just having the option to stand up and work for awhile can help them reduce the strain that comes from sitting too much.
Try adding just a few of these desks and see how often employees use them before you make a bigger investment.
Entertainment For the Employee Lounge - $
We’ve already established that sitting in the same place eight hours a day isn’t great for employee health or productivity. But if you want to encourage workers to get up and move around more, it helps if you have something for them to do. Consider adding a ping pong table, air hockey table or some other form of entertainment to your lounge.
As a facility management pro, you play an important role in creating a positive employee experience—and this is one easy way to do it.
Indoor Plants - $
As our workplaces and our lives become more technologically advanced, it’s not surprising that many of us long to return to nature. “Biophilic” design, or bringing elements of the outdoors inside the office, is becoming more popular these days. Workplace experts like Leigh Stringer, who was featured in a recent webinar about biophilia and new ways of working, say it can improve employee health, productivity and satisfaction.
New Conference Room Technology - $
Workplace technology is an important part of your role as a facilities manager, too. If your room reservation software shows the same meeting rooms are always booked while others sit empty, it might be the technology that’s the problem. Take a quick inventory of the equipment in your meeting rooms. Make sure it’s working properly, consistent in quality and appropriate for the size of each room. Then make upgrades as needed. New conference room speakers might not be as exciting as a new pool table, but employees will appreciate them nonetheless.
Plug Load Controls - $
As a facilities manager, you’re also an energy management professional by default.
Desktop monitors and other devices consume a lot of power within office buildings, even when they’re not being used. Plug load controls that power down devices when they’re not needed can help your office reduce energy costs while also protecting electronics and preventing potential fires.
IoT Sensors - $ - $$
Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can help you take the pulse of your workforce, giving you real-time data on space utilization, maintenance and more.
And they’ve become much more affordable in recent years. The cost of IoT sensors dropped by more than half from 2004 to 2014, and the average price per unit is expected to fall from $0.50 to $0.38 by 2020.
Of course, the total cost depends on how far you want to go to implement sensors in your workplace. If you just want to get an overview of space utilization or be more strategic about routine maintenance, you could install larger occupancy sensors outside office and restroom doorways for about $100 apiece. If you want to get more real-time insight into how many workstations and meeting room seats are being used at any given time, you will need to affix smaller individual IoT sensors on desks or chairs. Either way, the cost will likely range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
New Lighting - $$$
In addition to enhancing energy efficiency, improving your office lighting can make a big difference in the mood, productivity and even the health of your employees.
Natural light is best. A study in Sleep Journal compared workers in offices without windows to those in offices with windows. The employees who had windows and natural light in their offices slept an average of 46 minutes more per night.
An IoT-Based Energy Management System - $$$
A building automation system (BAS) offers centralized control of your HVAC, lighting and other systems. This reduces energy usage while keeping employees comfortable. It’s the closest you can get to having a living, breathing building. But it isn’t cheap—the cost can range from $2.50 to $7 per square foot. An IoT-based energy management system is a more cost-effective alternative.
While the initial cost of installing this type of system can range from $5,000 to $50,000, CANDI Power Tools CEO Steve Raschke said companies often achieve at least that much in energy savings each year.
Digital Signage and Kiosks - $$
Let’s face it—most of us receive far more emails than we can ever read.
When you have an important announcement to share with your employees, email isn’t necessarily the best way to do it. Digital signage and kiosks can be a great way to get employees’ attention, welcome visitors and make sure they can find their way around.
A Workplace App - $
A workplace app is just one more tool you can use to communicate with your employees. You can share important announcements and allow them to find people, reserve spaces, request service and receive mail or visitors. While digital signage and kiosks require more of an upfront investment, our Hummingbird workplace app takes advantage of something every employee already has: a smartphone.
It’s easy to connect to your existing facility management software, whether you use the iOFFICE IWMS or another system. And when you do, you’ll have real-time insight into how employees are using the workplace and the ability to respond to their requests.
Adding even one of these wish list items will go a long way to enhance your workplace and improve the employee experience in the coming year. Even if you don’t have the extra wiggle room in your budget now, it’s still a good time to think about what would have the most impact and start building it into your plans for next year.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.