The desires for connection and collaboration continue to shape the workplace. Employees want to work together, but in dynamic ways beyond the boundaries of the traditional workweek. To meet the needs of the new workplace while controlling costs, workplace and facility leaders must also find new ways to connect and collaborate — both across departments and with data. By moving to a unified platform, they can leverage real-time and historical numbers for actionable insights.
Backed by even larger sets of proprietary data and commissioned research, the latest Q4 Index Report from Eptura™ paints a more complete picture of the current state and near future of asset and facility management. But the important themes remain the same.
Success can be a demanding balancing act
In the first and second Index Reports, we looked at the four sets of competing demands business leaders face.
Value creation and cost control comes down to how companies can best deliver high functioning workplaces without breaking the bank. Here, the focus is on finding where and how to add spaces and services, so employees enjoy the best possible experience.
With flexibility and certainty, a company needs to find ways to not only accommodate but leverage the increasing demand for more flexible work models.
For freedom and connection, our data shows people want to work their own ways, but that those ways include opportunities to connect and collaborate with coworkers.
And organizations need ways to meet emission targets, along with other environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, that are both effective and cost-effective.
Work models and return-to-office trends are growing, taking shape
The 2023 data clearly shows people are heading back to the workplace. In fact, there are across-the-board increases in the average number of booked days in the office. The data also shows the return is purposeful and planned, with recurring bookings for desks far ahead of other timeframes. Interestingly, the second most common booking is “same day,” suggesting that employees land at either end of the bell curve for planning work location ahead of time.
The continuation of the mid-week mountain trend also suggests people are settling into schedules, with Mondays and Fridays still the most popular for remote workdays.
On top of increases in employees in the workplace, there are also more visitors and more visitors at more locations. Numbers are now higher than they were prior to the pandemic. Behind the increases is the continuously growing desire to connect with coworkers and customers.
Inside the overall increases, though, at the end of 2023 regional differences remain. New York was the highest for city desk bookings, with Chicago and Atlanta rounding out a distant second and third. We found the same consistency when looking at the numbers for countries in the EMEA, APAC, and Americas. Offices in the EMEA continue to see much more traffic.
Asset management numbers are bigger, but critical ratios remain the same
The second Index Report focused on how facility and asset managers need to control costs while also:
- Maintaining safety and security regulations
- Meeting contractual obligations
- Protecting the organization’s reputation
The data told stories of some early successes, but also highlighted the growing need to implement technology to further reduce exposure to financial, legal, and reputational risk.
For example, the ratio of on-demand to preventive maintenance work orders remained 50:50, but the total number of work orders increased, from 876,000 in Q3 to 973,000 in Q4. Maintenance professionals are doing more work overall, under systems that do not support the most efficient planning for resource allocation, including labor and inventory.
And while many have asset management software, 60% still use spreadsheets to manage their assets, and 50% still use email for ticketing requests. Without a centralized system, they’re missing opportunities to capture data they can then leverage for time- and cost-saving insights.
Our Index data reveals a consistent set of messages
The new Index Reports concludes with important advice for workplace and facility leaders: “Those who get there first will be the ones that profit the most.”
So, where is “there,” and how can you reach it?
At the center of a successful asset and equipment management program is technology that makes it easy for the team to capture, safeguard, share, and leverage data. Paper- and spreadsheet-based systems are too slow, siloed, and error-prone to deliver the right results.
Maintenance data, covering everything from repairs histories to inspection checklists, details on industry best practices to specific organizational standard operating procedures, can all be in the platform, where it’s safe, secure, and accessible from any mobile device.
The maintenance and facility management teams can also use the data in reports, helping them see from the big picture down to the smallest – but also critical – details. From how much they’re spending on utilities annually to how often they need to inspect and change the light bulbs in the employee parking lots.
And it’s not just the facility managers who should embrace new technologies. The indexes all showed how they they’re just as important for workplace leaders.
From the start, our research highlighted the ways the workplace was becoming more dynamic. The standard nine-to-five, five-days-a-week schedule, for some, is gone. Employees embraced working away from the office, but they still want the opportunities to interact they can only get at the office, leading to a hybrid work model for many.
How do we know employees crave connection?
The data suggests it. We see people coming into the office less often, but the mid-week mountain likely means it’s both to work and socialize. People come in when they know other people are going to be there.
And people told us directly. When asked, “What are the main things you appreciate about going to the office (other workplace) to work?”, the two most important reasons were socializing with friends and collaborating with colleagues.
The goal for workplace and facility leaders is to capture accurate data and then share it for a cross-functional approach.
For example, a workplace leader can track when people are more likely to come to the office based on occupancy sensors and data from a visitor management system. If the office shows a strong mid-week mountain, that’s important information for both the workplace and the facility leaders.
The workplace manager now knows to schedule more janitorial teams for the middle of the week, when more people are going to be in the office. At the same time, the facility manager knows to schedule larger projects for the start and end of the week, when the maintenance technicians don’t have to worry about working in the middle of busy office spaces. It’s just easier to fix that slow leak in the breakroom sink when the office is mostly empty, for example.
It all comes down to finding the best ways to capture data you can then leverage into process and policies that control costs while delivering an employee experience that boosts productivity.