How Agile Working Is Changing Facility Management

by Elizabeth Dukes on February 15, 2018

In a traditional office environment, facilities managers (FMs) build their strategies around set schedules, uniform design and consistent occupancy levels. But in an agile working environment, everything is flexible — the schedules, spaces and, in particular, the number of employees present throughout the day.

Essentially, agile working introduces variables FMs previously did not have to consider. It forces them to create a workplace that takes into account not only form and functionality but also the myriad personalities and work styles of both long-term and short-term employees.

The key to successfully adapting facility management to agile working is technology. More specifically, three types of technology:

  1. Space management software
  2. Facility maintenance software
  3. Employee experience solutions

The first and second allow FMs to design and maintain the workplace in the most effective and efficient way. And the third enables employees to make the most of an ever-changing office. Here’s how.

1. Space Planning Software

In an agile working environment, FMs must know how to not only effectively manage workspaces on a micro level but also the individual members of the workforce.

Agile working means FMs must actively engage with the workforce and workplace on a regular basis, identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement and use the tools at their disposal to cultivate a healthy, productive office. Passive or reactive management isn’t an option in a dynamic workplace.

One of the most important tools at an FM’s disposal is space planning software. Space management software allows FMs to view the workplace at both a macro and micro level. They can integrate individual floor plans and view real-time occupancy and asset data to help make more confident design decisions. Space planning software also enables FMs to forecast future needs based on expected changes, such as an increased workforce size, decreased workspace availability or vice versa.

2. Maintenance Scheduling

Predictably, scheduling maintenance in an agile working environment is more difficult than in a traditional workplace. In a traditional workplace, the buildings will be occupied and vacant at approximately the same times every day. And when the buildings are occupied, the vast majority of employees will be in the same general vicinity of each other throughout the day. As a result, FMs know which spaces and assets can be worked on with the least amount of disruption to operations.

However, in an agile working environment, occupancy levels are constantly fluctuating. And, as long as the workplace was designed correctly, employees will be using spaces all over the office. Without space planning tools and facility maintenance software, it’s difficult to determine when to schedule cleanings and asset repairs so the fewest employees are affected.

But an FM who does have these programs will have visibility into space and asset utilization. With this insight, he or she can make data-driven maintenance decisions instead of trying to guess when to schedule appointments.

3. Employee Experience Solutions

In this Forbes article, writer Karen Higginbottom explains that agile working “isn’t simply working remotely or part-time” but rather “involves work which focuses on performance and outcomes.” In other words, FMs are tasked with building a work environment that doesn’t just give employees freedom in terms of where and when their work gets done but also how it gets done. That means FMs must provide the workforce with a smart, agile workplace and the tools to make the most of it.

As its name indicates, agile working is about the freedom to move from place to place without negative effects on productivity. And achieving this isn’t possible without digital assistance.

A workplace where employees rarely have the same schedule day-to-day and are often working remotely creates a distinct challenge: it’s difficult to predict the availability of workspaces and conference rooms. This is where an employee experience app is helpful.

With an employee experience app, members of the workforce can see exactly which types of spaces/rooms are free and instantly reserve one. They can move freely throughout the space without disruption.

Effective facility management in an agile working environment is about striking the right balance between flexibility and stability. And if you want to achieve that balance quickly, you need to invest in space planning software, facility management tools and employee experience solutions.

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Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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