Wayfinding signage probably isn’t the top item on your priority list right now. With the majority of offices closed to all but the most essential employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re likely just trying to maintain connections between your increasingly distributed team.
But at some point, employees will be coming back, and they’ll be eager to reconnect in person.
As businesses around the world return to the built environment, you may face a backlog of visitors and a greater demand for conference rooms. For workplace leaders, it’s critical to plan ahead and use this period of reduced occupancy to prepare for the future. If your company decides to expand remote work opportunities on a long-term basis, you may take the opportunity to optimize floorplans and reduce your overall footprint. If that’s the case, large multi-site or campus facility teams will need a means of helping displaced teams find their new location when coming back to working onsite.
That’s why now may actually be the best time to consider incorporating or upgrading wayfinding signage for your workplace.
Wayfinding signage uses a self-service digital display and a wayfinding software system to improve the flow of information, people and foot traffic.
It’s used in strategic locations throughout an office building so employees and visitors can easily navigate the environment.
With wayfinding signage, employees can view interactive maps detailing the locations of their colleagues and available workspaces throughout the office. The information and resources displayed on wayfinding signage are powered by integrations with other solutions. Common wayfinding software integrations include:
One of the most essential elements of an exceptional workplace experience is providing employees with consumer-focused technology. Your workforce is accustomed to having the ability to easily access information on-demand through user-friendly solutions.
In particular, employees are used to interactive maps that provide turn-by-turn directions based on their real-time location. Wayfinding signage helps create a positive experience for employees and visitors alike from the moment they arrive.
Wayfinding signage is especially important for growing organizations that are regularly adding new employees as well as companies that have adopted a flexible work model, such as activity-based working. In both cases, the office is in a constant state of change.
In fast-growing companies, teams are frequently relocated to make space for new employees. And for organizations that have moved away from assigned seating in favor of a more agile working model, it can be difficult for employees to find their colleagues.
In addition to hindering productivity, this uncertainty can impact morale. Consider a workforce that has recently undergone a merger or acquisition. Two offices have joined forces under one roof, and there are a lot of unfamiliar faces. Wayfinding signage that links to an employee directory can help everyone connect the dots between these new names and faces and easily find where each person sits.
Wayfinding signage can also be used to communicate important announcements.
You can share local news, weather alerts, upcoming events and traffic notifications. Since the content is dynamic and customizable, you can ensure employees always have the most up-to-date information without flooding their inbox with messages they might miss.
As wayfinding signage continues to evolve, new trends have begun to emerge. Here’s what you need to know about the future of wayfinding signage.
Rather than viewing wayfinding as a tool separate from the workplace, some organizations have begun incorporating wayfinding into the design of the office itself.
One example is to give themed names to conference rooms that are in the same area of the office so employees have a general idea of where a room is located. For instance, all conference rooms on the ground floor could have canyon-themed names. Rooms on the middle floor could all be named for trees native to your region, and conference rooms on the top floor could be named for birds or constellations.
Another strategy is to color-code the workplace based on the type of work done in the space. For example, all collaboration zones could have orange furniture and a warm color scheme while areas designated for quiet solo work may be decorated with blue walls and ceilings.
Companies have also begun using landmarks as reference points, either basing design decisions around existing parts of the space or creating new landmarks. For instance, when a business moves into a building with a unique architectural element (such as a large interior fountain or ornately decorated wall), they can integrate it into the workplace and use it as a wayfinding tool.
Some companies have even commissioned personalized murals that act as both landmarks and reinforcements of their brand.
In a modern workplace, many employees are rarely at their desks. They move around throughout the day, depending on the work they’re doing. In a large organization, they could be moving between different floors and even different buildings. Recognizing the need for a mobile solution, more workplaces are considering a wayfinding app that integrates with the technology their employees already use.
This gives employees access to user-friendly tools similar to the apps they already use outside the office, like Google Maps and Waze. They can easily orient themselves in the space and use hyper-localized navigation technology to guide them to their destination.
The iOFFICE Hummingbird Employee Experience app features interactive 3-D floor plans with highlighted points of interest to assist with wayfinding. Employees also have the ability to rotate floor plans to help them more accurately pinpoint their location and select the most direct route.
In addition to making it easy for employees to find workspaces and meeting rooms, an employee experience app allows coworkers to quickly find one another. They can simply enter a colleague’s name and the app will either show the location of the employee’s desk (in traditional office environments) or which workstation that employee has reserved for the day (in the case of flexible work arrangements).
This ability to easily view any workspace and locate any colleague is what enables employees to engage in more collaborative activities and connect with a larger percentage of the workforce.
While having the ability to see the location of any workspace in the office is vital, it’s still only part of the information an employee needs. The rest is knowing whether or not that workspace is occupied.
To ensure your workforce always has the full picture, integrate wayfinding signage with room reservation software. This allows employees to see all workspaces in the office or filter the view to show only available rooms.
They can also see important details, such as room capacity and available assets, and instantly reserve the room that best suits their meeting needs. If the room they want to book is already in use, employees can see when it will be available again without having to interrupt their coworkers.
Integrating wayfinding signage with room scheduling software not only allows employees to book meeting rooms but also individual workstations, huddle areas and quiet areas.
When room reservation software is connected to wayfinding signage, you’ll know that room statuses are always up to date, helping to avoid double-booking and other conference room snafus that negatively affect productivity. Because the technology is cloud-based, employees can reserve spaces before they even arrive at the office.
While no-one knows what the future may hold, many thought leaders project an increase in remote and hybrid workplaces, with experiences and lessons learned during the COVID-19 outbreak acting as a catalyst for growth. In that environment, wayfinding software will help maintain a sense of continuity and keep workers prepared and engaged.
Building a modern digital workplace starts by providing employees with the tools they need to effectively communicate with their colleagues and interact with their environment. Investing in wayfinding signage empowers your employees and visitors to make the most of their day.
Want to see a closer look at how it works? Schedule a free demo today.
James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.