In the late 50’s, designer Robert Probst from Herman Miller designed the first cubicle to promote privacy, productivity, and health. It was a drastic change from the previous workplace format, which consisted of rows of desks in a large, open room that offered no privacy. Today, the demands of the workplace are drastically changing once again. We are now in the age of “knowledge work” – creating and evaluating knowledge, thinking creatively, performing non-routine tasks, and innovating. In the modern workplace, people no longer come to work and sit at a single assigned space for the whole day.
In a US Workplace Trends Survey conducted in the summer of 2012 by Herman Miller, facility managers indicated that, “32% of their employees would be considered mobile workers (spend 50% or less time in the workplace)” and that “29% of their employees work from home at least one day a week.” Additionally, “91% of facility managers say their clients have gone wireless”, meaning the practice of working in different spaces within the office has become very widespread. Nowadays people work from a variety of locations: from home, in a conference room, or even at a local coffee shop. According to a report by furniture manufacturer Steelcase, “knowledge work today can be divided into four modes: heads-down work, collaboration, learning, and socialization.” Each one of these different modes of work requires a different workspace. The message is clear: mobility and flexibility are key aspects of the new and changing workplace, and the structure and management of the workplace needs to adapt to accommodate these changes.
While this new dynamic workplace may sound complicated and difficult to manage, Facilities Management (FM) software can greatly help companies manage their buildings and their fluid nature. For instance, FM software supports hot desking strategies by allowing employees to book desk space or conference rooms for when they need them. FM software has a lot of flexibility and can even do things like limit the floors or buildings someone can book a room in, thereby increasing space efficiency and limiting the number of areas that need heating and lighting. It can also turn on heating and lighting at the times when rooms are booked and switch them back off once they are no longer in use, which cuts costs and increases sustainability for the business.
Companies like iOffice understand the needs of the new workplace and their Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) reflects this. Their Space Management Software provides real-time information on how the space in facilities is being used. This gives facility managers accurate data on how their facilities are being utilized and allows them to make changes easily and with little risk.
The good news for companies and facility managers is that more and more FM software are adapting to these workplace changes and offering features that help companies better adapt to them. For instance, Planon’s Space and Workplace Management software helps companies cut costs by helping you optimize the utilization of space with employee and departmental demands. It allows employees to reserve public spaces or conference rooms online by visually selecting a location from the office blueprint. The same can be done for booking and reserving equipment or even catering and cleaning.
FM:Systems is another company that offers FM software that reflects the new workplace trends. They recognize the importance of versatility in the workplace and their software helps companies by identifying and reducing vacancy and managing occupational density. Like iOffice and Planon, they also allow companies to repurpose existing and vacant spaces ensuring a better utilization of existing space. Their Space Management Module allows companies to store and monitor real time information about how their buildings are being used and who is using them at any given time. They store all their data in one central location, making it easy for anyone to access vital information such as building codes, floorplans, and vacant space.
FM software is only the first step in creating a streamlined and dynamic workplace. Some of this responsibility rests on the shoulders of facility managers as well. Facility managers themselves need to be innovators and visionaries. Their job is no longer simply to ensure that the buildings they manage are clean and usable. They should plan ahead and support the work being done in their buildings. Part of this means looking ahead and envisioning how work may be done in the future to prepare for the different possibilities that exist. Through the joint efforts of FM software and facility managers, workplaces will become more adaptable, sustainable, and efficient both now and in the future.
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