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The rules and roles for workplace management in the post-pandemic era are constantly changing. This calls for flexibility, adaptability, and foresight.
Facilities managers no longer oversee only buildings and assets. Effective workplace management strategies includes helping employees navigate more flexible schedules, collaborating with a more distributed workforce, and using new technology.
There are new considerations for the employee experience too as employees use the office and its amenities differently.
At the same time, workplace leaders still have to juggle traditional workplace management responsibilities, including optimizing real estate costs, keeping up with maintenance, and meeting new standards for cleanliness.
Are you tired yet? We see you! These three strategies can help you advance from just surviving to thriving as a workplace management rockstar.
As you develop your return-to-work plan, health and safety need to be at the top of the list.
New variants of COVID-19 continue to emerge, prolonging the uncertainty and anxiety about going back to the office.
Effective workplace management starts by ensuring employees continue to maintain appropriate physical distance, whether or not they are vaccinated. That means you’ll need to reconfigure your floor plans and rethink seating arrangements to create more space between desks.
You may also need to reduce daily occupancy by assigning employees to alternating shifts. You could have one group using the office on Mondays and Wednesdays while another group comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Help employees protect themselves by setting up sanitizing stations and making extra masks available to employees and visitors who prefer to wear them, whether or not your local government has a mask mandate in place.
Consider using a visitor management system to streamline guest check-in and provide better security, taking more control over who is allowed into the workspace. Encourage guests to pre-register and make it easy for them to scan themselves in and notify their host without needing to use a shared touchscreen.
The best way to make sure your teams feel safe is to involve them in the planning for your new workplace. Survey them to better assess their comfort and concerns around returning.
Develop a planning committee to help re-introduce employees to the workspace. Share updates and important announcements frequently.
Safety includes mental health as well as physical health. While research shows many employees want the flexibility to work remotely, most also want to return to the office at least a few days each week. For some employees, prolonged remote work can lead to additional stress and anxiety, loneliness, and a lack of connection to their team. For others, the pandemic exacerbated existing mental health challenges or brought on new ones.
The Center for Disease Control associates mental illnesses such as depression with higher rates of disability and unemployment. The CDC says depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks approximately 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance 35% of the time. Despite the rise in Americans ages 18 and older who report mental illness symptoms, only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those who report severe depression receive treatment.
There are several steps you can take to help employees better manage their mental health, including:
A McKinsey Global survey of office space managers found that after the pandemic, they expect a 36% increase in work outside their offices. This means many companies are rethinking their approach to real estate and looking for opportunities to use existing office space more efficiently. That could mean deciding not to renew leases or consolidating underutilized spaces, but it might also be as simple as setting up the office in smarter ways.
For instance, desk hoteling makes it easier for employees to reserve any space, depending on the work they’re doing that day. It also improves space utilization by reducing the number of assigned desks sitting empty on any given day.
If fewer employees are making the commute to your central offices, your workplace management strategy might also include leasing several smaller coworking spaces where employees can collaborate closer to where they live.
Employees who are fully remote may need new furniture and equipment for their home offices.
Keep them comfortable by ensuring they have the proper type of desk and chair, and invest in wireless headsets and ergonomic keyboards.
Consider workplace technology needs in addition to physical needs. The boom in digital aids can create a technology tangle as employees acclimate to new methods of connecting with their teams while performing new job functions with different requirements.
The Forbes Human Resources Council members suggest navigating new technology through incentivization, incremental training, collaborative and informal training sessions, and engagement and follow up. Investing in intuitive mobile apps can help employees be more productive without the learning curve that often comes with new solutions.
Implementing a strong workplace management strategy takes time, planning, and the proper tools.
You need to keep track of so many different documents and assets, from floor plans and lease agreements to office furniture and devices employees use in their own homes.
At the same time, you’re trying to make sense of data from many sources. You may have spreadsheets with department head counts and occupancy rates, email calendars reflecting room reservations, and a service request system showing your maintenance history. You may have also decided to introduce sensors to better understand how employees use your office space. You’re collecting so much data, but you may not be able to make sense of it unless you’re looking at it in the larger context of your real estate strategy.
Fortunately, the right software makes it much easier.
Just as every rockstar needs a good tour manager to keep them on schedule, every workplace leader needs a system to keep them organized and help them manage their many responsibilities.
iOFFICE’s space management software brings all your documents and data into one place and makes it actionable, transforming static floor plans into a dynamic workplace.
You can update furniture and seating arrangements instantly, see how employees use your space, and forecast your future real estate needs.
Robust reports show you how every decision impacts your real estate portfolio and your bottom line so you can keep up with changes in the tempo without missing a beat.
You already have what it takes to be a workplace management rockstar — you just need the right support system. Take a tour of our space management software today.
James McDonald is a sports enthusiast, brother in Christ and once swam in a tank with the infamous TV sharks.