3 Data Points Facilities Leaders Need to Manage Hybrid Work. 

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Data from McKinsey and Company shows that the top reason employees chose their current job is because of workplace flexibility with 40% of survey respondents choosing this as their top reason over other trending factors. Other common stressors were support for well-being, a safe workplace environment, and reliable and supportive colleagues. Without flexibility, understanding, and autonomy, workers are far more likely to leave their positions in search of jobs that will provide these things.

Employees are asking for a flexible work experience and facilities teams must adapt to that sentiment, with new views around health, safety, and work-life balance. Hybrid workplaces not only mean flexibility for the employee but also more variability and complexity for facilities teams trying to provide a best-in-class physical workplace. How can we create the best and most efficient office environment to ensure satisfaction amongst occupants? 

Three metrics that facility teams must reevaluate as we intelligently adapt to changing work models are office occupancy, space utilization, and employee satisfaction. 

Office Occupancy 

To have full transparency about how many employees are coming into the office and on what days, data surrounding office occupancy being available will be extremely useful. While using technology like card/badge readers to measure office traffic in the office is not new, the ways that facilities teams are now using the data is what makes it impactful. Data around which days of the week are most popular, abandonment rates for return to the office, and how much available desk space is being used are being gathered by organizations through card readers, sensors, and room/desk booking applications. As facilities leaders gather more detailed occupancy data they can use it to better maximize staff & resources, improve work with vendors and save costs. 

We are seeing facilities leaders use occupancy data to improve facilities operations and employee experience in a few interesting ways:

  • Services Offered: As hybrid becomes commonplace many organizations are looking at the in-office perks they provided to employees in the past and re-evaluating them to better match what employees want. Amenities like food service are expensive and make more sense to be offered when employees are in the office versus when they aren’t to maximize resources and cut some costs.
  • Cleaning Validation: Organizations are using occupancy data in coordination with cleaning validation data to optimize their cleaning efforts and staffing, saving money on both ends. If it is clear when and where people are or are not gathering, resources can be allocated accordingly to make the cleaning budget reflect the data on office occupancy. 
  • Facilities Team & Resource Allocation: Organizations are also using occupancy to better manage the schedules of team members and to provide better time windows for services for returning employees. For instance, members of an employee request services team can have their schedules mapped to days on which more employees come into the office and more cleaning is expected. They also are able to schedule more robust facilities maintenance projects for days when employee traffic is low.

Space Utilization 

In order to adapt fully to changing models of working, we must think about the very ways that our office spaces are designed. Space utilization takes office occupancy data a step further and allows facilities leaders to really understand how the occupants are using your office environment. 

Office occupancy only scratches the surface of office usage. Advances in technology used for space booking, sensors and workplace experience applications have seen facilities and real estate leaders become more sophisticated on what's really happening within their workplaces. As facilities leaders, this usage data is critical to inform how to provide the infrastructure and ecosystem to support a collaborative and productive office experience and community among employees. Proper space utilization and reimagination also has great potential to improve efficiency, drive performance and decrease costs.

A few creative ways that organizations are using space utilization data include:

  • Redesigning Space to Prioritize Collaboration: Open concept offices to increase human connection and collaboration. For example, cubicles and desks may be out in favor of more open office concepts like shared spaces, more conference rooms, and desk clusters. This can create the perfect environment for colleague collaboration and drive success for teams as well as individual employees. 
  • Occupancy-Based or Dynamic Cleaning: Why clean a space that nobody has used? We are seeing organizations start to utilize space utilization data with cleaning validation data to kick off cleaning events for janitorial staff and vendors. For instance, if a desk or conference room is booked and used, the janitorial staff will be notified that it needs cleaning while those unused do not. This can save significant time and money.
  • Downsizing Space: While most organizations have seen that hybrid actually doesn’t enable them to cut space, we are seeing organizations look at utilization data to determine what spaces may make sense to condense where possible and determine if their current space is the right fit for the space design needs they now have.

Employee Workplace Satisfaction

The return back to the office for employees who have previously worked completely remote can be the source of some sort of anxiety. Data from Limeade shows that anxiety among employees is spiking, with 71% of employees surveyed worried about health & safety, 71% anxious about having less flexibility, and 68% concerned about commuting. Most importantly, the need for employee satisfaction is at an all-time high while many workers express they will search for other jobs if they do not feel valued at their workplace. 

Employee retention is as difficult as it has ever been and employers need to make sure to measure employee sentiment often to make sure people stick. Facilities service leaders are no different, they also will need to understand the services that they can provide to ensure a positive and productive employee workplace experience that keeps employees around.

Here are a few innovative ways that facilities teams and workplace staff are determining employee workplace experience sentiment:

  • Return to Office polling: Polls asking employees their opinions and feelings are a great way to learn directly from them what they need in their office. We are seeing many workplace experience applications providing this functionality.
  • Employee Request Satisfaction: With less dedicated space for employees, the number of employee requests will actually increase for IT and facilities personnel. Effectively measuring the happiness of employees as these work orders are resolved is integral to the employee workplace experience.
  • Employee Satisfaction Surveys: Many organizations have been surveying their employees throughout the pandemic and now is not the time to stop. Keeping a familiar cadence that keeps employee needs top of mind is a priority.

Facilities teams need to be as flexible and data-driven as our work environments: 

Managing a hybrid workspace is much more complicated for facilities teams than traditional 9-5 work models. Facilities teams will need to be more flexible, employee-focused, and data-driven as they work towards actualizing employee needs in order to retain talent and drive productivity. 

Having easy ways to measure office occupancy as well as redesigning our physical spaces is the key to facilitating a productive office environment that is a hotbed for collaboration and innovation. For facilities teams, this represents a tremendous opportunity to impact the bottom line, increasing employee retention and productivity, reducing unnecessary costs, and improving collaboration and innovation through workplace environments. With these metrics, facilities managers will be able to ensure not just the success of the office, but the company as a whole.

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