The impact of technology in the workplace

Workplace technology is on an exponential curve. It wasn’t long ago we used fax machines and interoffice mail to work — now, even email seems out-of-date. The impact of technology in the workplace is substantial, and it’s changing everything from how we work to what tools we use to do our jobs.  

The breadth of workplace technologies available today takes two forms: workplace-facing and workplace-supporting. Technologies like messaging apps and room booking software are workplace-facing because they’re the tools employees use to do work. Occupancy sensors and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) represent workplace-supporting tech because they govern the workplace construct, both physical and digital. Together, they represent the technologically powered environment that is the modern workplace.

Why do we need all this tech?

A salesperson or accountant might have the same job description today that they did decades ago, but what that work entails is so much more. The sophisticated evolution of work comes on the heels of workplace technology growth.

Improved interpersonal communication

How has modern technology changed the workplace? The simplest example to look at is interpersonal communication. Over time we’ve sped up the rate at which we communicate and the scope of that communication. This is evident even as recently as the shift from email to messaging apps.

Jim needs to ask Sally a question about a project. He could send an email since Sally is off-site today — or he can instant message her through Slack. Through Slack, she gets the notification immediately and can reply in seconds. Jim’s question sits in the #project channel instead of buried in an inbox, and there’s a historical record of their conversation instead of a growing email chain. Jim gets his answer fast, and the two stay on the same page.

Messaging apps integrate with various other cloud-based apps, which always puts communication front and center. Employees can leave notes in a collaborative file or send a thumbs-up emoji to sign off on a memo. Thanks to modern interpersonal communication tools, employees communicate clearly and more often, with better results. 

Speedier workflows

Quicker, better communication has spilled over into other areas of workplace transformation. One of the most notable positive effects of technology in the workplace is quicker workflows. It’s not only communication technology behind this agility — it also involves workplace planning and coordination software.

IWMS and Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) platforms quicken workplace management. It no longer takes days or weeks to repurpose a workspace or change the dynamic of an office. Facility managers can adapt the workplace in minutes to shave hours or days off project timelines and tasks. Moreover, there are fewer barriers and overlaps between employees.

Bob and John don’t need to wait for Michelle and Patricia to finish using a meeting space — they can find (or make) an alternative space in seconds. Steve can look at his calendar for the day, pop online, and reserve a suitable workspace.

Worktech simplifies the complexities of an agile environment so that employees can do more faster. Work gets done quicker and more efficiently.

Broad asset accessibility

The business cloud is arguably the most influential workplace technology of the last two decades. Think about what the cloud offers; broad access to any digital assets, anytime, anywhere. This level of accessibility is so ingrained in what we do we often take it for granted.

Mike saves his PowerPoint presentation at his desk on the fourth floor, then pulls it up from the cloud for his meeting on the ninth floor a few minutes later. Then, Lily accesses the entire folder of digital project assets from her home office to make last-minute adjustments before the big rollout.

As much as the business cloud has changed the traditional workplace, it’s also the biggest catalyst for antiquating it. This level of accessibility allows people to work from anywhere — which is extremely common today. In fact, this tech is still growing more powerful today through innovations in edge computing and decentralized server networks.

More productive environments

Finally, we need to ask, how does technology affect productivity? If it’s not evident already, technology has been the most significant stimulus for improving employee productivity and efficiency. Try to do your job without a computer or email.

Without messaging apps or cloud storage. Without the ability to reserve a workspace or contribute to a shared document. It’s likely impossible to work without technology in today’s climate. Even if you could manage it, you’d be light years behind.

Technology touches every aspect of work — how, where, and even when we accomplish it. The result of ever-increasing advancements in technological tools is evident in everything from how we communicate to the scope of the work we do daily.

Above all, today’s profound flexibility in work habits shows the importance of technology. Thanks to workplace technologies, we’re ever-moving, constantly communicating, and consistently accomplishing, no matter where or what we’re doing.

Learn how Eptura’s software can help your business thrive. Check out our plans.

Why is employee experience important?

Consider buying a new car. It’s an experience that’s notoriously frustrating — one most people dread. They hate pestering salespeople, haggling over price and interest rates, and signing dozens of documents. By the time they drive off the lot, most people are too exhausted to enjoy their purchase. The overall experience was simply draining. It’s the same concept for an employee’s experience in the workplace. 

A good employee experience improves the productivity, comfort, and cohesiveness of a workplace.

Unlike the experience of buying a car, you want employees to feel good coming to work! Many employees today work hybrid, and it’s your job to ensure they enjoy coming to the office as much as they enjoy remote work. They shouldn’t dread walking up to the building or feeling tension when sitting at a desk. Employees should leave feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. Research shows a good employee experience can improve the productivity, comfort, and cohesiveness of an excellent workplace experience. 

What is employee experience? 

Employee experience is a self-explanatory term. It’s how your employees feel about their employment. Only recently has employee experience become quantified as the sum of culture, technology, and workplace — though it’s most often correlated with the workplace since that’s where all these variables come together. 

In a genuine sense, employee experience is about making employees excited, proud, happy, and confident in their work. Companies capable of doing this create a positive employee experience; companies that fall short may deliver a negative or unexciting experience to workers, leading to employee burnout. It’s an outcome dictated mainly by the willingness and ability to meet and exceed employee needs, expectations, and standards.

Every company wants happy employees but employee experience goes far beyond making people happy. It’s about attaining the benefits of happy, engaged, and productive employees. Here are 10 reasons employee experience is important and why it pays to create a positive one: 

  1. Attract and retain talent. Skilled employees want to work in a place that embraces and supports them. From the interview to the onboarding process through all stages of the employee, a good experience provides top talent with a sense of purpose and work-life balance. 
  2. Create camaraderie. A company’s workforce needs to function as a team. Bad employee experience can push people apart; good, shared experiences bring them together.  
  3. Enable work support. A good experience empowers employees to try their best. This way, employees feel confident about their work and less afraid of failure if their workplace projects an air of support. 
  4. Improve engagement. Employees with a positive view of their workplace enjoy a certain level of excitement about their job. They’re attentive, engaged, and ready to do their best. 
  5. Foster collaboration. Given a positive experience collaborating with their peers, employees won’t be afraid to ask for help, provide guidance, or work together—especially in an environment that supports them. 
  6. Inspire creativity. The ability to think clearly and creatively benefits businesses and employees alike. That creativity fosters innovation, which leads to growth. 
  7. Prioritize well-being. If a workplace weighs heavily on an employee, they’ll suffer at work and home. Promoting a positive employee experience encourages higher engagement, which can improve mental health. 
  8. Feed the bottom line. An excellent employee experience boosts the bottom line through everything from better efficiency to a higher caliber of work done. Happy employees drive revenue growth. 
  9. Bolster company image. People talk. When the topic of work arises and employees say only good things, that word of mouth becomes part of the company’s ethos, and perception is often reality. 
  10. Grow professionally. Employees who feel good about where they work grow in their professional endeavors. They do more, learn more, and feel comfortable taking on responsibility. 

Remember, these benefits are contingent on a positive experience and can be erased by a negative one. Let’s return to the car analogy from above. If you have a wonderful experience at the dealership, you might be more willing to recommend them to a friend or pay a little extra for features you might not have otherwise.

A bad experience may make you leave the lot without even buying a car! From the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, experience means everything — especially to attract and retain top talent. 

Reap the benefits of a positive employee experience 

At the end of the workday, positive employee experiences directly correlate to business success. Employees who feel welcomed, accommodated, and empowered bring that positive energy to their work, the interactions they share, and the company culture. These factors contribute to a business’s bottom line and competitive advantage. 

Your employee experiences directly correlate to your business success

Pay close attention to employee experience in the workplace. Do they show up and leave in a good mood? Can they work efficiently and productively? Do they immerse themselves in the workplace? Look for the hallmarks of a good experience and address facets of the workplace where friction, tension, and other negative sentiments are an opportunity to improve the employee experience.   

Keep in mind people will never be happy all the time. But an employee’s workplace experience should never be the reason why they’re unhappy. If it is, it’s time to reshape your workplace and employee experience. 

How space management and planning help with growth

In many ways, office environments are like their own ecosystems. Leave a group of people together for long enough and they’ll develop some sort of system, right? True as it is, those systems that spring up organically in the workplace aren’t always effective or efficient. An unplanned, unmanaged office isn’t likely to magically transform into a well-organized oasis of productivity.

And it’s now compounded by today’s hybrid work models where employee behavior and building occupancy are dynamic, so space management is more complex than it’s ever been. The shift to flexible working has made it increasingly difficult for businesses to plan, operate, and maintain workspace and assets effectively.

Our 16,000+ customers are adapting to a dynamic work environment where shared space is the new normal and what happens (or doesn’t happen) in one area affects the other.

It’s not enough anymore to manage square feet on a static floor plan. They’re magnetizing the workplace for employees by operationalizing and fusing building maintenance and flexible working together. The goal? To compete for top talent and grow the business.

Between real estate, property management, and facility management, finding cost savings and improving company culture are now dual mandates – which requires a lot of cross-department collaboration and decision making.

Think of all the different teams that make or influence the built environment today — everyone from human resources to technology teams, to physical security and reception managers, to building system maintenance and janitorial services. Plus, all the vendors that need to be managed, tracked, and coordinated – especially during office moves and space reconfigurations.

With strategic space utilization and workplace design, you can reduce overhead costs, increase employee satisfaction and productivity, and create a commute-worthy workplace experience. From smarter energy management to better utilization of your real estate, today’s space management software is powerful and built for users. But it all starts with a space management strategy.

Key components of a space management strategy

Space management is an essential component for business growth. It involves understanding and meeting the needs of a business’s space while ensuring that all resources are optimally utilized. Take time to understand your company’s goals and needs, and develop strategies to optimize space allocation effectively.

You need to identify unused or underutilized spaces, and maximize efficiency with office layout design using techniques such as ‘design thinking’ to become more agile and adaptive to user needs.

What’s design thinking? Go deeper. Read “The connection between design thinking and workspaces.”

Understanding space management and planning 

Before you can make use of a space usage strategy with a floor plan, of course, you need to understand what that strategy is and how it can work for you and your departments. Space Management and Planning is a part of Facility Management (FM), which is a professional field that covers everything having to do with the physical premises a business occupies.

Facilities Management includes not only office space usage but also industrial and manufacturing spaces, including factories, laboratories, loading docks, retail space, mailrooms, outdoor test facilities, and more. FM can also encompass physical assets such as technology, office supplies, furniture, and manufacturing equipment.

While many industries and offices have dedicated FM staff, some businesses aren’t yet big enough to employ these kinds of professionals’ full time, relying instead on an office manager or human resources staff member to take on FM duties that include space management and planning.

Whether the professional carrying out space management and planning duties is an FM specialist or someone else, their focus, while performing these duties, will be on the use of the physical space in the office rather than other elements of FM.

For example, the question of where to seat a specific department within an office space is a space management duty. Conceptualizing different seating arrangements and setting them up as potential scenarios would be part of Space Planning. There’s a subtle difference between the two, which is why it’s best to lump them into the same category: Space Management and Planning.

This facility management function gives businesses the ability to control how their office environments function from a physical standpoint. While this can seem like a purely practical task at first glance, there’s actually an art to space management and planning that, if performed correctly, can result in major gains in employee satisfaction and, by extension, productivity.

Strategic space management and planning offers a business a certain amount of flexibility and collaboration while improving overall productivity. During the space management and planning process, critical decisions regarding the use, layout, appearance, filing options and standardization should all be considered.

First, determine what the space will be used for. For example, will there be meeting rooms or cubicles? Establishing the space’s primary function is the first step that a business should take concerning space management. The layout should complement the overall use of the space, and this included the functionality of the space regarding the furniture layout.

The design may be something that doesn’t seem important when looking at the overall picture, but studies have shown that a well-designed space can increase productivity and success in the workplace and can boost the employee’s overall mood. A well-designed space also has the ability to adapt and evolve with the occupants, and they will feel comfortable at ease in such an environment.

Filing and record keeping are important aspects of any business, regardless of the filing system that is being used. Some businesses may require a larger area for storage, filing, and supplies.

Determine the goal and needs of the business to determine how much space will be needed. Always taking into consideration the future growth of the company and the forecasted needs of the space. Technology and equipment requirements should be considered as well, especially since most companies utilize digital record keeping.

Finally, the business should determine how the space will look. Will they be standard cubicles or furniture that are all matching and cohesive? Should the look and design and the layout of each room remain similar or does each room require a different layout with a distinctive design to establish its use?

With the right tools and knowledge, businesses can develop successful strategies for efficient space management that will lead them towards long-term growth success.

There are many software solutions available today that focus on helping companies manage their physical spaces more effectively, such as room booking systems which allow teams to book meeting rooms quickly. Because remember: Digital experiences are driving the employee experience – and business growth is directly connected to employee satisfaction. Ease of use is a top priority and the tools you use need employee adoption.

Tools to help with space management and planning 

  • Digital twins and 3D modelling software, such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) that allow users to visualize how different layouts would look like before actually making changes
  • Occupancy sensors which track how much time certain areas are being used
  • Smart building technology with real-time data about employee presence
  • Desk booking systems which enable teams to easily find available workspaces
  • Energy management solutions which help organizations save money by optimizing energy use across premises
  • Move management solutions which facilitate easier relocation processes when needed
  • Room usage tracking solutions which collect data on how often certain places are being used throughout the day

By leveraging these modern tools alongside manual practices such as collecting information from surveys or interviews with staff members about their experiences in different areas of the office, businesses can ensure they make informed decisions when managing their physical spaces 

Easily make changes to asset descriptions and update maintenance data within the Archibus BIM Viewer.

Benefits of space management and planning 

Space optimization is an extremely valuable process for any business aspiring to expand. By utilizing physical space, companies can reduce overhead costs, enhance employee satisfaction and productivity, and create a more pleasant work environment. Here are some of the key advantages associated with smart space management:

Cost efficiency

Companies can benefit from cost savings by recognizing underutilized or excessive spaces in their facility. With solutions such as energy management platforms, cost calculators, and strategic planning software, businesses can analyze usage data in real-time to make informed decisions when it comes to resource allocation.

Enhanced employee satisfaction

Space supervision also boosts contentment among employees by offering them flexibility in terms of how they collaborate together. This could be done through hot-desking models or having staff members work remotely, which allows the organization to design a workspace that matches their individual needs.

By planning ahead using booking systems and room usage tracking systems, teams will always have access to the right desks or meeting rooms at the right time so that everyone remains productive without feeling cramped up in a shared office setting.

Increased productivity

Through intelligent building technology, including desk booking systems and occupancy sensors, organizations are able to measure desk utilization throughout the day and make changes based on factual data instead of assumptions about what might suit employees better.

This way, they are able to optimize their office layout for maximum efficiency while still providing comfort for those present without overcrowding certain areas or leaving other sections vacant most of the time. Moreover, regular evaluations of space use enable businesses to modify plans rapidly if required, which increases productivity levels on the whole.

Superior workplace experience

Finally, proper space monitoring promotes an improved workplace experience which leads to heightened collaboration across teams while uplifting employee morale too.

By collecting information about room occupancy, such as what types of meetings take place within it, companies can customize their spaces to current trends so that workers feel comfortable no matter if they decide to work remotely or come into the office daily. Regular assessments help detect potential issues before they grow into serious problems, enhancing communication between team members as well as organizational culture overall.

Through organized planning and implementation of efficient space administration plans, businesses can ensure that all decisions regarding physical spaces are well-informed, leading them towards long-term success with expansion opportunities further down the line

We analyze our global data quarterly. See our findings based on analysis of 2.7 million desks, 37,000 buildings, and 440,000 floors across more than 8,000 companies.

How to implement an effective space management plan 

Begin by evaluating the company’s total square footage, how many people it supports, and any areas of unused or underutilized space. From there, a plan can be drawn up for future space requirements that takes into account potential changes in team size or operations.

Once a comprehensive plan has been developed, businesses should look at ways to optimize their physical space, such as altering office layouts or introducing hot-desking solutions — as well as implementing room booking systems or desk booking software for more flexible working arrangements. Further cost savings can be achieved with energy management solutions and occupancy sensors that track progress in real-time.

Monitoring progress is just as important as devising a plan in the first place — regularly assessing usage trends over time will help inform decisions when allocating resources or creating new workspaces. Strategic planning software is invaluable here, providing insight into which strategies are most successful in terms of cost savings and productivity improvement. 

Ultimately, by following these steps, companies will be able to establish a solid foundation for success whereby they benefit from significant cost-efficiency gains while simultaneously fostering an environment where employees are satisfied and productive — setting them up for long-term growth opportunities along the way. 

Today’s space planning software utilizes real-time data to offer valuable insights into how workspaces are used by teams or individuals at any given moment. This allows an organization to better optimize its premises for maximum efficiency and productivity. Similarly, move management software enables companies to handle large-scale changes like office moves or rebrands with minimal time and money investment. 

Digital twins also offer organizations the chance to scenario plan and test conditions and layouts before implementation, giving them the opportunity to experiment until they find the design that works best for them without expensive revisions down the line.

Meanwhile, room booking systems enable more efficient allocation of meeting rooms — as well as providing analytics on usage rates so they can adjust bookings accordingly — while occupancy sensors can detect usage patterns in real time with minimum effort or disruption. 

These tools allow businesses greater control over their physical spaces so they can reap cost savings along with increased employee satisfaction and improved productivity levels, ultimately leading to better workplace experiences overall. 

The link between employee satisfaction, the office environment, and productivity 

Why does it matter whether your office environment feels comfortable and inviting for employees? Their job is to show up and get the job done, right? If you’re like most modern business leaders, this line of thinking may sound a little old-fashioned and unwise, and there’s good reason for that. Employee satisfaction is becoming a major part of the way successful companies do business.  

Concepts of corporate culture and attracting “talent” rather than “human resources” are replacing the old-fashioned one-size-fits-all approach to crafting a workplace.

Cubicle farms are being replaced by open, airy workspaces with communal meeting spaces, lounge areas, and ergonomic workstations. While this kind of humanity-focused approach might have sent chills down the spine of 20th-century middle managers, effective organizational leaders in this century know that treating employees as valuable team members is a smart system that reaps incredible rewards. 

This isn’t just common sense. Multiple studies have shown that office environment and employee satisfaction are linked and that, in turn, employee satisfaction has a dramatic positive impact on productivity. In that sense, a cushy workplace isn’t just a good plan for attracting top talent. It’s a way to ensure that once you have that talent on your team, you get the best possible return on your investment.

Planning, too, is imperative as it allows FM staff and other management to anticipate employee satisfaction needs and curate the best workspace possible. Ultimately, Space Management and Planning is an effective means of taking control of your workspace and shaping it to fit not only the organization’s needs but also the needs of the employees. 

What employee satisfaction means for growth 

Space Management and Planning has an essential role to play in the cultivation of a satisfied, productive workforce. Productive employees lead to better work output, which, in turn, allows your business leadership to strategize new avenues for growth. But that’s just the short-term picture. As your growth efforts pay off, your satisfied employees will stay put and continue to provide loyal service to your organization.

They’ll grow from junior-level employees into managers who themselves can bring on a new generation of satisfied talent that continue the cycle and set your business up for long-term expansion and success. 

Satisfied employees will only stay happy with their work environment if you can expand in the right ways and in a timely manner. No one likes going from having a cushy workspace to feeling cramped and distracted by an influx of new coworkers. Because space management and planning is a continuous management process, you’ll be able to avoid making growth seem like a burden to long-time team members.

Plus, it helps integrate new employees into the office in a seamless way, so the satisfaction points start racking up from the moment the new hire walks through your doors on his or her first day.  

Find out how worktech from Eptura can help your space utilization need. Talk to us 

Alternative workplaces: Then versus now

In 1998, the Harvard Business Review published a futuristic article, The Alternative Workplace: Changing Where and How People Work. While it was a new and exciting concept back then, in 2023, it isn’t too groundbreaking. If anything, it’s the new normal.

It describes remote work and a growing detachment from the traditional workplace. That said, it’s a prophetic-sounding piece from more than 20 years ago that predicted the alternative workplace we’re seeing today. 

Indeed, we have moved from an era in which people actively seek connections with one another to an era in which people decide when and where to disconnect — electronically and socially. Current organizations pursuing alternative workplace initiatives — particularly those with home office arrangements — must be mindful of that paradox. 

The rise of the alternative workplace has been a long time coming, as evidenced by the above passage. The global pandemic was just the latest catalyst driving alternative solutions into the spotlight. Today, alternative workplace strategies have taken center stage and are fulfilling the vision first adopted in 1998.

Alternative workplace definition 

What is an alternative workplace? It’s a fair question and readily answered by many of the work trends we’re familiar with today. Telecommuting and remote work. Coworking. These paint a picture of the alternative workplace. 

Alternative workplaces refer to where employees work that is not in an office, and how that environment supports their productivity.

In 1998, “alternative workplace” focused more specifically on alternatives to working in an office. Today, the definition focuses more on where employees work and how that environment supports them — from a well-furnished coworking space to the free Wi-Fi at a local coffee shop.  

Key elements of the alternative workplace 

Alternative workplaces are highly diverse because they can encompass just about any environment that supports work. So long as it supports your ability to work and it’s outside of the “home base” workplace, it falls under the guise of an alternative workplace. 

A coworking space might have an office feel and all the amenities of a traditional workplace. Still, it’s an alternative workplace because professionals from other companies and career paths surround you. Your home office is an alternative workplace. Even an airport lounge is an alternative workplace — even if you only work there for 45 minutes before a flight. 

Are you sitting in an alternative workspace right now? Take stock of the environment and see if it offers these essential elements: 

  • Are you using your own technology? 
  • Do you have control over your seating? 
  • Do you have control over your work habits? 
  • Is the environment conducive to your work? 
  • Are there people other than coworkers around you? 

Examples of alternative workplace

Most coffee shops, coworking spaces, home offices, breakout spaces, airport terminals, public libraries, and similar facilities fit the bill. But the alternative workplace isn’t only shaped by physical surroundings — more important is how it empowers employees.

Emphasize the worker instead of the workplace 

Alternative workspaces are defined by the freedoms they afford workers. These workplaces sever the tie between work and any one single place, which also means they give employees the power to self-govern. When allowed to choose their own venue and work in their own way, many workers seize the opportunity to do their best work in their best manner. 

It’s not surprising that many companies invested in alternative workplace strategies over the past two decades — even pre-pandemic. Unlinking work from the workplace and instead hitching work to the worker brings untold flexibility to the concept of what a workplace is. Hence, the current rise in alternative workplaces.

If an employee can produce 100% regardless of whether they work at a desk, in an office, or an easy chair at home, does it matter where they work? Most likely not. What if they could accomplish 120% from their easy chair? It’s a very real driver behind the hype in alternative workplaces. 

Alternative workplace concepts come down to an investment in work and the worker, instead of the workplace. So long as they can do the job, who’s to stop employees from doing it in a place that’s comfortable, familiar, and supportive of their personal work habits? It’s a trade many employers willingly make for bolstered productivity, improved culture, and employee satisfaction.

Alternatives are part of today’s modern workplace 

This is not a fad” is a simple but striking sentence in the groundbreaking 1998 Harvard Business Review article. Indeed, it’s not, especially to have survived over 20 years and become the foundation for the adaptive workplace solutions we see today. 

The rise of the internet, cloud applications, and better computing technology have all made alternative workplaces viable solutions as companies navigate the modern workplace.

Remote work, flex scheduling, hoteling, experiential workspaces, and coworking are all alternative forms of work, but they’re only part of the greater alternative workplace employees rely on today. 

Why breakout spaces are essential to the modern workplace

Revisiting space planning is important for evolving companies. As your employees’ needs change, the workspaces they use will need to change. It’s also worthwhile to reevaluate space allocation if you haven’t done so in a few years — the types of workspaces present are likely outdated or, at the very least, due for a few upgrades. It’s an excellent time to ask yourself if there’s enough available breakout space. 

Offices have informally utilized breakout spaces for decades. Today, they’ve risen from convenience to necessity based on their role in agile workplaces. Not only do you need to provide breakout spaces, but you must ensure these areas support various types of work. It’s time to reevaluate the role breakout spaces play in your office. 

Defining breakout spaces 

What is breakout space? The simplest definition is any space without a predetermined purpose. It could be a table with three or four chairs or as complex as an experiential space employees can flex in and out of. 

Breakout spaces are a quick fix to an immediate need. A conference ends, but three people need to get together to discuss a subtask. Instead of crowding around someone’s desk, they “break out” into a space for 15 to 20 minutes. An employee has two meetings on the fourth floor, with a 30-minute break between them. Instead of returning to their office on the first floor, they flex into a breakout space to prep between meetings. 

Breakout spaces are usually occupied for 30-45 minutes and able to adapt to the needs of whoever occupies them.

Breakout spaces are the ultimate representation of agility in a fast-paced workplace. They’re usually occupied for around 30 to 45 minutes, and their unstructured nature turns them into the ideal space for whoever occupies them. 

Give employees diverse breakout spaces 

Breakout spaces themselves don’t generally follow a defined purpose. However, a breakout area can set the tone for the type of work people do in these spaces. 

A breakout area tucked into a quiet corner might attract employees looking for a hideaway — a place to concentrate on something important for a short time. Likewise, an experiential breakout area themed like a coffee house might encourage collaboration by attracting small groups who need a place to brainstorm or toss around ideas.

The atmosphere of a breakout space should signal to employees the type of environment they can expect to work in. Creating diverse breakout spaces throughout your facilities is a great way to give employees flex space that meets their changing needs. Quiet work today, collaboration tools tomorrow, and space to spread out next week. The more diverse breakout spaces, the easier employees can move seamlessly throughout the workplace as their day or workload dictates.
 

Unstructured space is crucial in agile offices 

The role of an office breakout area cannot be understated in the modern workplace. Employees in motion need spaces to hunker down, whether to catch their breath, catch up on messages, or accomplish quick tasks. An undiscerning, easily co-opted breakout space is the ideal opportunity. Create the right ambiance via space design, and it becomes a haven for employees — a space where they feel comfortable and grounded, despite their fast-paced schedule. 

Employees today need spaces to hunker down, whether to catch their breath, catch up on messages, or accomplish quick tasks

Today, so much of the office is structured to promote agility specifically. While the workplace experience is flexible on the surface, there are rigid controls in place that allow it to bend without breaking. Facility managers play an invaluable role, and the rise of office automation makes overseeing dynamic environments easier.

Unstructured workspaces are an essential asset on the management side, as well. These “set it and forget it” spaces don’t need management because they’re truly agile. Well-conceived, they’re a smart way to both support the workforce and optimize the office space floor plan. 
 

Making breakout space work 

Breakout spaces are the most flexible spaces in the office, but that shouldn’t make them an afterthought or a filler solution in your floor plan. Dedicated breakout space should be strategic — located in areas where it’s easy for people to transition into and out of different activities. Employees should feel comfortable in a breakout space, whether doing head-down work or meeting with a small group. Most importantly, it must foster productivity by contributing to greater workplace concepts of agility and flexibility. 

Employees have always used breakout spaces. Now, in the modern office, their role has expanded. Put these adaptable, accessible spaces where they’ll do the most good and encourage employees to leverage them whenever they need a place to be productive.

The connection between design thinking and workspaces

In today’s hybrid workplace where occupancy and utilization fluctuate regularly, creating workspaces that matter to employees has never been more important. The days of a 1:1 desk-to-person ratio are now more the exception than the rule. Sharing space in an office is now as common as using a smartphone to request a ride home or rent a shared bicycle.

Continue reading “The connection between design thinking and workspaces”

The ultimate guide to space optimization in the hybrid workplace

Walls no longer confine work, and the hybrid workplace is here to stay. A Gartner survey predicts that 39% of the global workforce will work hybrid by the end of 2023 — up from 37% in 2022.

By the end of 2023 39 percent of the global workforce is predicted to work hybrid.

Many employees want to spend at least part of their time working in the office to collaborate in person with their colleagues, reserve a quiet place to concentrate, and take advantage of on-site amenities. Managing a hybrid workplace brings new challenges, including space optimization.

How do you maximize office space while also allowing employees the flexibility to work remotely part-time? There are no easy answers, but here are a few recommendations.

What is space optimization?

Simply put, space optimization is making the most of all the available office real estate you have and using it to support a positive employee experience while reducing waste and minimizing costs. The goal of space optimization isn’t just to increase the number of employees per square foot but to ensure each space is being used the way it’s intended.

5 strategies to improve space optimization in the hybrid workplace

  1. Establish a baseline occupancy target to determine office space per employee

While different employee roles and functions require different types of space to be productive, it’s good to have some general guidelines.

Consider your employees different space needs depending on their department and roles.

Start by considering your average occupancy percentage before the pandemic or before you transitioned to a hybrid workplace. How much space did you have per employee at that time? If you don’t know, look at recommended industry averages.

Commercial real estate website Squarefoot also offers a handy space calculator.

Consider how employees’ needs might differ depending on your industry and their department and roles. Your legal team will likely need more private office space for closed-door meetings and review of confidential documents. In contrast, your marketing team will want more open areas for brainstorming and collaboration.

If you plan to continue having assigned desks, you probably won’t need one for every employee. Determine which employees can share desks based on how often they intend to be in the office — or consider implementing office hoteling.

  1. Establish a remote work policy

While each department may have its own guidelines for when employees work remotely and how they use your hybrid workplace, company-wide expectations help create clarity, transparency, and understanding. Decide what values are most important, not just for team morale and productivity but also when it comes to planning and optimizing your space.

when will teams meet in person?

Set clear parameters around when teams will meet in person, when they are expected to meet with clients in person, and when fully remote employees will be expected to attend company events.

  1. Survey employees to determine how often they plan to use the office

Ask employees to consider all aspects of remote and in-office work and give them the flexibility to decide on their hybrid work schedule.

Questions to ask employees include:

  • How many days each week do you plan to be in the office?
  • During what hours do you plan to spend most of your time in the office?
  • How do you feel about attending meetings when you are not physically present?
  • How will you take the initiative to remain involved in office activities?
  • Have you discussed how often, if at all, you can travel back to your department’s primary worksite?
  • How will you feel if your travel is limited once or twice yearly?
  • What type of meeting space and amenities do you need when meeting with clients in person?

As you consider employees’ needs, don’t forget about their belongings. You might need to add shelves, closet space, or intelligent lockers to help employees keep valuable items secure.

When you understand your employees' needs and expectations, you can leverage space optimization.  

Intelligent locker systems are ideal for a workplace with desk hoteling because they can be reserved, assigned, and reassigned by any employee throughout the day.

Understanding the employee’s needs and expectations helps you optimize your space accordingly. It also enables you to analyze, test, and implement tools to streamline space reservations/claims.

  1. Use a desk booking system

As you give employees more flexibility to choose when they come into the office, you need a way to manage seating while ensuring space optimization.

A desk booking system gives you a more structured way to manage your space and resources. Desk booking allows your employees to reserve space in advance, helping your facilities team update your workplace based on the number of employees who plan to be there. It also helps you monitor space utilization trends over time to better design your future space needs.

Desk booking allows employees to reserve space in advance, helping you monitor space usage trends to better design your office.

One of many considerations for desk booking is creating a welcoming and productive workspace for most people. It’s common for facilities managers to plan their booking strategies by thinking about the average day. How many people are typically in the office? What resources do they need? This narrow planning may create problems later. Instead of preparing for a reasonable scenario, think of the worst case.

Consider your peak demand; how many desks will you need if everyone shows up? Desk booking software gives you analytics and data regarding usage and timing. You can use this and prepare around that number.

  1. Make smart, multi-purpose furniture and surface choices

Your workspace is more than computers, desks, and tables. After overcoming a global pandemic, we all learned to adapt and pay attention to our surroundings to create the best environment to thrive. Look around your office space for innovative ways to use your current assets.

Companies use innovative ways to better optimize their space and assets.

Use whiteboard paint on the walls in brainstorming or meeting rooms. Buildings.com, an industry news source for facilities and space managers, offers these and other tips for optimizing your space.

Furniture also plays a role in creating a space that can host a board meeting in the morning and be subdivided into smaller team meeting rooms later in the day using mobile walls or dividers that double as whiteboards. Use smaller desks or tables that can be rearranged Tetris-style to create differently sized spaces, change the energy or mood, and make the most of your area.

Use space management software to optimize your hybrid workplace

Space management software helps you visualize all your spaces, track utilization, and reconfigure your floor plans.

You can see a graphic representation of your floorplans overlaid with real-time data on desk and space reservations, giving you the ability to make strategic, data-driven decisions.

The right space management software will provide you with a sense of control and understanding of your facilities from a global perspective, helping you create short and long-term strategies while avoiding paying rent on unoccupied space. Understanding how your space is used and creating a space that serves your employees will lead to better employee productivity, boosting the bottom line while minimizing costs.

Just because your employees are scattered, your office space organization doesn’t have to be. Tour Eptura’s space management software and find the tools to improve space optimization in your hybrid workplace.

What are collaboration tools?

Collaboration tools are a simple concept to explain but tricky to characterize. They help teams and groups work together toward a common goal. But what are collaboration tools themselves? Is a project management app a collaboration tool? Of course. What about a chat or messenger client? Sure. Is a wayfinding app a collaboration tool? That depends. Does it help a bunch of individuals work together in a meaningful way?  

Defining collaborative tools 

Collaborative tools provider real-time interaction between workers, helping teams and groups work together toward a common goal.

There’s plenty of grey area in defining collaboration tools when evaluating new workplace collaboration trends. The simplest collaboration tools definition is a catchall term for anything that two or more people use in conjunction with one another. These tools come in all manner of varieties and purposes but ultimately foster interaction between people.  

Some examples include: 

  • A chat app that lets multiple people brainstorm ideas 
  • A project management app that defines tasks across a group 
  • A video conferencing tool that lets people talk face-to-face 
  • A file-sharing program that gives many people access to collateral 

This definition leaves the concept of collaboration itself wide open. For example, if you plan a meeting and use a wayfinding app to send directions to participants, it’s a collaborative tool. Gmail. Dropbox. Slack. Microsoft Word online. They’re all collaborative tools — part of a growing repertoire of thousands of apps and programs designed to facilitate group work.  

No matter the nature of the software or what it’s used for, each one makes working together easier in some way. Let’s take a look at some universal collaboration tool benefits.

Full team visibility and accountability

Expecting people to collaborate without full visibility over what they’re working on together is a recipe for disaster. Every member of the team needs to see the bigger picture and how what they’re doing fits into it. Collaborative tools make this possible.

Logging into a Google Doc and tracking changes alongside everyone else, for example. The ability to see task timelines in a project management app is another excellent instance. Everyone is on the same page, working toward the same goal. 

With this visibility also comes an element of accountability. Team leaders know who to hold accountable if a task isn’t completed. Or, from a proactive perspective, team members can see when others need help and collaborate to keep the project on track

Track progress in real life 

No matter how carefully a project is planned, something may still go wrong. Just because you structure a group project one way doesn’t mean that’s how it’ll progress. Business changes rapidly — daily and sometimes even hourly. Teams need a way to adapt just as quickly; collaboration tools give it to them. 

Business changes rapidly — daily and sometimes even hourly — and collaboration tools help teams adapt quickly.

Modern collaboration tools help to create dynamic workflows and team agility. For example, Person A in facility management uploads client feedback on a logo to the #Logo Slack channel, where Person B can make changes, uploading a new iteration to Dropbox without changing the shared link. Everyone has the new logo in real-time. 

The ability to act, react, and reallocate resources as fast as projects change is an asset teams can’t function without. Collaboration tools help teams respond to changes as quickly as they’re expected to, prevent setbacks, and keep projects on track

Enable full group participation 

Every member of a team is an asset. Teams are successful because they’re more than the sum of their parts—but that’s only true if each piece contributes to the whole. If group members can’t collaborate properly, they’re limited in the assistance they can provide.

If Person A works off-site and can’t access collateral for their portion of the project, they cannot work on it, which can stall the greater effort. Likewise, if details X, Y, and Z aren’t told to Person B, they might not do their work appropriately, adversely affecting what Person C does. 

Collaborative tools enable full group participation and synergy so everyone contributes meaningfully. Each person uses their skills and talents to drive the project forward in a show of true collaboration.   

The easier it is to collaborate, the easier it is to succeed.

Collaborative tools help teams succeed 

A team is only as good as the sum of its members and their ability to work together. Collaboration tools leverage each individual’s responsibilities and talents into the team’s greater success.

Any technology that helps one person work with others to contribute to a larger mission is a collaboration tool worth using. 

Not every group needs the same tools for specific tasks, but all groups need diverse ways of functioning together. The easier it is to collaborate, the easier it is to succeed. 

Bare Minimum Monday can be a glass half full, not half empty

No matter how you apply it, the term ‘bare minimum’ sounds negative. But what if it didn’t have to be? What if it could be positive and empowering? 

Bare Minimum Monday is a growing work trend that first appeared on TikTok. Employees and employers alike typically see it as a negative in the workplace. How could doing the bare minimum work on Monday possibly be beneficial? 

But as we know, perspective is everything. Keep reading to learn more about Bare Minimum Monday, why it began, who coined the term, and how it can benefit worker productivity and business overall. 

What is Bare Minimum Monday? 

Bare Minimum Monday refers to employees starting their work by doing only the required tasks needed on Mondays. Marisa Jo, a digital creator, developed the viral concept with good intentions — to reduce stress and create more work balance throughout the week. 

She explained, “I would wake up on Monday already feeling behind, overwhelmed, and anxious — this feeling would only compound as the week continued. I was trying to get myself to overachieve my way out of the burnout I was experiencing, but of course, that didn’t work.” 

Tired of the pressure and stress that came every Monday morning, Jo decided to permit herself to take it easy that weekday. Ultimately, she found that her productivity for the entire workweek improved. How, exactly? She discovered that she could increase the quality of her work by pacing herself. 

Bare Minimum Monday is a counterintuitive method for employees to improve mental health, reduce burnout, and improve productivity. The gentle start to the workweek eases the usual pressures and expectations that arise after the weekend, resulting in more consistent and grade-A output by the end of the week. 

That said, after she coined the term on TikTok, Bare Minimum Monday spread like wildfire and its initial logic got lost. People put their own spin on it, using it as an excuse to slack off on Mondays entirely — posting themselves oversleeping, sunbathing at their pool, and anything else not work related — redefining the phrase as a negative. 

Bare Minimum Monday doesn’t mean lazy workers 

Employees who embrace Bare Minimum Monday aren’t lazy. In fact, they end up being more efficient. Hustle culture taught us that taking breaks throughout the workday equates to laziness, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Employees who take more breaks work in a way that allows them to be more productive on their own terms without sacrificing their well-being. 

The truth is, no one can work at 100% all the time — it’s entirely natural, not to mention healthy, to have some slower days. Bare Minimum Monday encourages employees to begin the week by embracing the natural flow of productivity rather than trying to force themselves to overwork, ultimately burning them out as soon as the week starts. 

Employees embrace the natural flow of productivity rather than trying to force it.

How can managers encourage their teams to work on their own terms while ensuring they remain engaged? The answer is trust and communication. Managers and employees must have open conversations about their working patterns and productivity. Leadership can set work output expectations that match their teams’ needs. 

When employees have the autonomy to work in a manner that bests suits them, everyone wins. Hybrid work is an adequate model to do this as it balances employees with both remote and in-office work options — ultimately supporting the same goal as Bare Minimum Monday, to reduce burnout and improve productivity. 56% of companies reported this as accurate, stating their organizations surpassed their annual targets thanks to hybrid working.  

It’s no secret that Mondays can sometimes overwhelm professionals. But with Bare Minimum Monday, employees can ease into the week rather than diving in headfirst. No matter where employees work — from home, in the office, or both — and regardless of how many breaks they take or if they work 6.5 hours instead of 8, Bare Minimum Mondays helps reduce stress while ensuring employees are still meeting deadlines.  

So, if Bare Minimum Monday means lazy workers, it’s time to redefine lazy. 

Employees are set up for a productive week 

 Think of Bare Minimum Mondays as a way to protect employees from Quiet Quitting. While Quiet Quitting refers to doing the absolute minimum requirements of the job every day, Bare Minimum Monday focuses on doing less at the start of the workweek so employees can remain productive throughout the remainder of the week. 

Please create an in-text graphic of: Runners don’t sprint at the beginning of a marathon, so why should employees overwork themselves on a Monday?

Think of a marathon. Runners know to pace themselves from the beginning, making sure to start off slow to save energy for the end. Why? Because if they use all of their energy at the beginning of the marathon, they won’t make it to the finish line. The workweek is similar. If employees overwork themselves on Monday, their productivity dwindles before the week ends — just like a runner who starts the race sprinting.  

When workers prioritize three to four less time-consuming tasks to execute on a Monday, they naturally witness increased productivity levels. Employees who don’t try to tackle too many tasks simultaneously allow their creative juices to flow better. 

Contrary to its reputation, Bare Minimum Monday doesn’t encourage employees to slack off but allows them to pace their productivity throughout the week rather than use it all at the start. This career trend brings the lesson of “The Tortoise and the Hare” to the workplace.

How employers benefit from Bare Minimum Monday  

When employers hear of Bare Minimum Monday, most assume it’ll threaten their bottom line. However, leaders who do more research on the trend find that it can significantly benefit their company. 

Employees who properly implement Bare Minimum Monday still meet expectations. But rather than multitasking on too many projects while attending two or three critical meetings, they space their workload throughout the week. For example, a worker can use Mondays to catch up on emails, focus only on priority tasks, and prepare for the week’s upcoming meetings. Bare Minimum Monday can be a glass half full, not half empty. 

Here’s how: 

  • Better employee retention and engagement 
  • Enhances creativity and output 
  • Promotes work-life balance among workers 
  • Supports employees’ mental health 
  • Creates a positive company culture 

Rather than allowing your workforce to define their versions of Bare Minimum Monday, lead the conversation. Have managers talk to their teams about ways to make their Mondays less stressful. An example of a guide for Bare Minimum Monday is: 

On Monday, employees are encouraged to… 

  • Start the day with some form of self-care 
  • Not schedule meetings unless it is the only availability 
  • Work remotely for a portion of the day or the entire day 
  • Only focus on priority tasks and cut out “busy work” for the day 
  • Use that time to properly plan for the week to avoid procrastination 
  • Not stress over deadlines as projects should not be due on Mondays 

Bare Minimum Monday isn’t going away anytime soon. So, if you can’t beat them, then it’s best to join them. Instead of dwelling on how employees could take advantage of the trend, find the positives, partner with your workforce, and leverage Bare Minimum Monday to improve your bottom line. 

Leading the charge will not only benefit your business, but it will express to your employees that you care about their well-being. And in today’s modern workplace, employees demand to be valued and appreciated more than ever. 

Bare Minimum Monday isn’t going anywhere 

The concept behind Bare Minimum Monday is to improve employee health and well-being without decreasing output. If anything, workers who embrace Bare Minimum Monday consistently produce better quality work while avoiding burnout. 

Bare Minimum Monday has taken the workplace by storm, with thousands admitting it’s the secret behind increased productivity and happiness at work. If the trend isn’t harming your business but bettering it, why not embrace it?