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Corporate Wayfinding in the Modern Office

Imagine if every employee always took the most efficient route from one part of your campus to another, even if they’d never been there before. What if your guests could find their way around your facilities just as confidently? With well-planned wayfinding, anyone can navigate your office without asking for directions or wandering the halls.

Corporate wayfinding is about making your entire campus more accessible. People are constantly immersed in wayfinding on the road, in public spaces, in facilities of all kinds, and in apps. When it isn’t available in the palm of their hand, people have been trained to look for and expect wayfinding support in prominent locations and the areas they’re most likely to need it.

This goes beyond simply labeling meeting rooms and putting up signs around restrooms. You need to equip employees and guests with a combination of moment-to-moment wayfinding and methods to visualize the entire route before they begin.

In this article, we’ll explain:

Let’s begin by looking at the increasing value of streamlining your office navigation.

Why corporate wayfinding is becoming essential

When everyone has assigned workstations, employees tend to walk the same paths over and over. Point A and Point B are fairly consistent, so it’s easy to learn the most efficient routes between these points.

But the rise of the hybrid workplace model is changing how and where employees work. That’s why wayfinding is becoming even more critical than it already was. As organizations change their work from home policies and dedicate more space to office hoteling, employees are more likely to find themselves making trips to and from unfamiliar locations.

Where before, Point A and Point B might have been the same every day, in a dynamic workplace, employees may use different workstations and different meeting rooms every day, based on whatever happened to be available. They may even use multiple workstations in a single day! Assigned workstations enable employees to get comfortable with their environment faster, so wayfinding becomes less valuable to them. But when your employee population shares a pool of workstations, offices, neighborhoods, and rooms, wayfinding becomes a crucial anchor, assuring them that they can find any space they need and familiarize themselves quickly. Your organization can enjoy the benefits of a dynamic workplace without adding undue stress to the workday.

Benefits of effective corporate wayfinding

Wayfinding may seem like a minor consideration, but it impacts every person on your campus every day. And when you consider the scale at which it can affect people’s comfort and efficiency, it’s worth taking the time to do it well. This isn’t just about keeping people happy. If it takes people longer to get where they need to go, that lost time adds up. And when people don’t feel comfortable using unfamiliar spaces, they use fewer spaces—instead of reserving whatever spaces are available, they’ll wait until they can use the ones they know.

Here’s how excellent wayfinding benefits your business.

Increase comfort and reduce stress

Done right, corporate wayfinding should feel like you’re being escorted precisely where you need to go. Regardless of where you’re coming from or where you’re heading, you’ll know the path. You don’t have to ask a coworker how to get there, wonder if you’ll get lost, or leave early in case you do.

Your employees aren’t helpless. They can find new desks, conference rooms, and coworking spaces. But every time they have to, it adds uncertainty to their day. And that affects some people more than others. Some people couldn’t care less about directions and trust their ability to stumble into the right room and find the right space. Others will be distracted by the possibility of getting lost and being late. They may even fixate on it.

Wayfinding “lowers the temperature in the room,” reducing stress across the board by ensuring that anyone can confidently get to any space. People are generally more comfortable using spaces that are familiar to them. Wayfinding helps familiarize them with more of your campus faster.

Fewer people get lost (so your business loses less time)

A single wrong turn could add minutes to someone’s trip around campus. That may not seem like much, but multiply that across your entire employee population, and how many hours will your business lose over the course of a year? Not to mention, each time someone gets lost, it makes their day more stressful. And sometimes, one person getting lost can mean many employees have to wait to start a meeting—suddenly you’re multiplying those wasted minutes by 20 people instead of one.

By leveraging mobile location data, you can give people real-time wayfinding in your employee app. Tango uses your floor plan, geolocation capabilities, and artificial intelligence to show employees a complete map of the best route from where they are to where they’re going.

In a hybrid workplace, an employee’s environment could have multiple changes in setting on a daily basis. Without solid wayfinding in place, there’s a much greater risk of people getting lost.

Improve your space optimization

As your employees scan the list of available workstations and meeting rooms, you don’t want them to think, “I don’t want that one; I’ve never been there before.” To maximize your space utilization, you need every employee to be willing to reserve any space that suits their needs.

It’s natural for people to develop favorite desks, neighborhoods, offices, and conference rooms. Maybe they prefer one with windows. Or a quiet, secluded space. Or a conference room near their department. Preferences are fine. But it can start to become a problem if people feel like they can only work in a specific space. When that happens, all of a sudden your ratio of employees to workstations goes down, and your utilization rate goes down with it. You might have planned your space  for a ratio of three employees per workstation, but in reality, some workstations may only have a 2:1 ratio while others may be more like 5:1 or 7:1.

Since corporate wayfinding helps employees feel more comfortable with more spaces faster, it can decrease their reliance on using the same spaces. With the right office booking software, employees can even filter available spaces to find ones with similar characteristics to their preferred space, or find a workstation near coworkers they prefer to work with—and then get directions with the simplest route.

In an ideal hybrid workplace, anyone can reserve a space that meets their needs, ensuring your organization can use your space in optimal ways. Effective wayfinding helps make this possible.

How to get corporate wayfinding right

Office navigation isn’t new. And many of the principles have remained the same over the decades. But corporate wayfinding has also developed simpler ways for people to get their bearings, and better tools to help organizations streamline wayfinding. Here are some of the best practices enterprises should be following today.

Combine wayfinding with office booking

Want your employees to feel more comfortable and confident reserving any space on campus? Give them directions right when they reserve a room. This is the best time to alleviate uncertainty and show employees the fastest route to a new place.

If you make employees work to find directions, not everyone is going to get the help they need. But with Tango, wayfinding is automatically built into your office booking system. Tango recognizes where an employee is, then uses artificial intelligence to guide them to their reserved space.

Set up wayfinding stations

When people enter a building or get off an elevator, that’s a natural place to get oriented. We’re used to seeing a clearly identified, prominent place to learn how to navigate the floor or building. Using kiosks, screens, or billboards of some kind, set up wayfinding stations for visitors and employees to find their destination and plan their route.

You don’t want this to simply be part of a slide deck on a screen. It needs to be a dedicated place for people to examine a floor plan. More advanced wayfinding kiosks are interactive and even let people search for spaces and get directions.

Choose memorable visual cues

People are used to patterns and visual cues playing a key role in navigation. We’ve been trained to recognize (and look for) numbering systems, alphabetized naming conventions, and color codes to find our way around and figure out if we’re on the right track.

The key to making these visual cues useful, though, is to see them through the eyes of a visitor. Where does someone learn what the system is? Are there places where someone could enter without encountering the “key” to the visual cues? Without clear labeling at regular intervals, a visual wayfinding system can easily become more confusing than helpful.

You might also consider incorporating unique names or memorable graphics. The names of your conference rooms or department wings could relate to your local community, your brand, your industry, your building’s history, or something else that’s more fun and memorable than “Conference Room C13.”

The more memorable your wayfinding is, the easier it is to learn, and the more it benefits everyone who sets foot on your campus.

Add navigation to your employee app

What happens when you forget where an office is? Or you get lost on your way to a conference room? You could try to find someone who knows where it is. Maybe you can retrace your steps to where you went astray. But there won’t always be someone there to show you around. And you could easily waste a lot of time wandering on your own.

With an intelligent employee app, your mobile device can share your location with the app, and the app can guide you to your destination in real-time. Your employees use this sort of wayfinding off campus all the time—so why not bring that technology to your office?

Tango doesn’t just provide wayfinding navigation when an employee reserves a space—at any time, they can find directions from their current location to any space on campus.

Incorporate wayfinding into your space planning

Office wayfinding shouldn’t be an afterthought. Sure, you can always retrofit your facility with signage, kiosks, and other wayfinding tech, but the best time to think about navigation is when you’re optimizing and planning your space. You’re already analyzing and predicting how people will use and interact with your space, where the highest traffic areas will be, and what people will focus on. Why not put those insights to use from the beginning?

Signs, maps, and kiosks people can’t see aren’t useful. To be effective, you want your wayfinding materials to be in conspicuous, prominent locations where people expect to find them, can quickly identify them, and can easily use them. Tango helps you do this by keeping all of your workspace optimization metrics in one place, displaying live floor plans, and making it easy to create models and mark locations for signage, kiosks, and more.

Wayfinding made easy

Corporate wayfinding helps you use some of your organization’s biggest assets more efficiently. Your employees can confidently navigate your entire campus—even the departments they rarely visit and the workstations they’ve never reserved. With Tango, wayfinding happens automatically through your reservation system and employee app, using your employee’s location to generate accurate, reliable directions from Point A to Point B.

Want to see what Tango can do for your organization?

Schedule a demo today.

Contributors

Brett Sample

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