Workplace management is how businesses plan, structure, and optimize their facilities to improve space utilization, increase productivity and efficiency, and boost employee satisfaction. It involves a combination of space management, facilities maintenance, and lease management, as all of these areas impact how you manage your workplace.
Effective workplace management ensures your employees have access to the types of spaces and resources they need when they need them, and that your spaces serve the most valuable purposes. This is important whether your employees primarily work virtually, on campus, or a combination of the two. But the rise of the dynamic workplace has added new layers of complexity and value to strategic workplace management.
Modern organizations that use a hybrid workplace model need sophisticated tools to understand how their space is being used day-to-day and in real-time, what demand for space will look like in the future, and how their real estate portfolio can adapt to their business’ changing needs. As employees cycle between working from home and working in person, you need to be confident your space can accommodate a fluctuating workforce.
For most organizations, this means adopting Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) software including space management like Tango Space. Tango Space is a module of our IWMS platform that enables you to visualize and manage your workplace in real-time, bringing together all relevant space-related information and other related real estate and facilities data and organizing it in meaningful ways. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Tango recognizes patterns in space utilization—like who works together and when—and helps you find the best ways to optimize your space according to your goals.
In this guide to workplace management, we’ll examine:
- Why organizations need a workplace management strategy
- What effective workplace management looks like
- How workplace management is evolving
Let’s start by exploring why workplace management matters.
It might be tempting to let “workplace management” happen organically, leaving decisions about individual workplaces to the leaders or administrators who work in each location. But the larger your organization, the more unwieldy this approach becomes.
Regardless of how many locations you have, an ad hoc workplace management system will inevitably result in missed opportunities to improve the way your locations and employees operate.
Here’s why you need a workplace management strategy.
What do you want your organization to look like in the next few years? Do you expect to have more employees? Fewer? Will you be adding or eliminating a department? Are you trying to downsize your real estate portfolio? How do you want employees to work in the future? Do you want to foster collaboration between teams or departments?
A workplace management strategy helps you consider your current space in light of your goals. If you leave workplace management decisions to an individual location’s leadership or administrative team, decisions about using your space to support employees may miss the big picture of where your organization is heading.
Developing a plan that fits your goals also helps you evaluate whether your current space can accommodate your future needs. Using software like Tango Space, you can easily explore possible configurations, letting our AI show you ways your floor plan could meet your goals. Want to create more space for virtual collaboration? Done. Need more hoteling space for dynamic employees? Easy.
Being intentional about your organization’s workplace management ensures all of your locations use your space in the most valuable ways for your business—now and in the future.
When your employees have to walk across the building or wait in line to use the spaces and equipment they need, those bottlenecks hold back your entire workplace. But you obviously don’t want rooms to sit unused all day either. The challenge is to find the balance between occupancy and vacancy, so employees can be productive and your space gets used efficiently.
Workplace management requires that you constantly have your finger on the pulse of what your employees need to be effective and how you can allocate your space to meet those needs. This may involve collecting regular surveys, streamlining maintenance requests, and providing clear, frictionless communication channels.
In addition to improving employee performance, excellent workplace management should result in happier employees—because they’ll have the resources they need and an environment they’re comfortable with.
If you increase employee satisfaction, you’re naturally going to reduce employee turnover, decrease complaints, and develop a healthier company culture. When people enjoy working for your company, they’re more motivated to stick around, and it makes your job offers that much more compelling.
Just as you need to keep up with what employees need to be effective, you need to pay attention to what your workforce needs to be happy. This may mean adding more flexible space, or creating more of the types of spaces they frequently use. It could involve reconfiguring what a typical workstation looks like. Or solving congestion problems and improving wayfinding. You may need to purchase additional equipment or install new amenities.
Managing your workplace efficiently and intelligently needs to account for the kind of workplace your employees desire.
There are a few significant ways workplace management can reduce your occupancy costs. It can:
- Prevent you from paying for additional space when you can reconfigure the space you have.
- Reveal opportunities to reduce your real estate portfolio by eliminating unused or poorly utilized space.
- Help you avoid paying maintenance costs you aren’t responsible for according to your lease agreement.
- Optimize your energy consumption based on how your space is used. (You don’t need to heat, cool, or light rooms that aren’t being utilized.)
These savings opportunities depend on how attentive you are to what’s happening in your workplace. If you don’t have the ability to track space utilization in meaningful ways, it’s difficult to determine where you can reduce costs without disrupting productivity or decreasing employee satisfaction.
So let’s look at what it takes to do workplace management well.
Workplace management is an ongoing process that depends on several key components. It takes space planning, data collection, automation, feedback, and constant optimization. Without these pieces, you’re not always going to make the best decisions about how to manage your space and accommodate your employees.
Space planning needs to be a core part of your major business decisions. Policy changes and new initiatives can significantly impact the types of spaces your company needs and even the amount of space you need. Finalizing changes to your business without considering their implications for your space may mean you have to walk back important announcements or commit to investments you aren’t prepared for, such as leasing additional space.
Forecasting future demand for space is another vital part of planning. As your company grows according to your goals, and space utilization trends continue, can your facilities keep up? Your plans will evolve, but it’s important that you intentionally think through the best ways to configure your space and start from those models, rather than simply letting each workplace decide what to do ad hoc.
Effective workplace management depends on data. Without space optimization metrics, you’re really just guessing what your business needs and whether your locations can satisfy them. In the past, “space utilization data” has consisted of things like badge-in / badge-out data points and periodic manual counts of how many employees occupy a space at a given point in time.
But that’s not always very helpful. More organizations are deploying technology to collect more valuable insight. Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), blurred vision cameras, and other IoT sensors can detect things like how many bodies are in a room, where they’re located, how far they are from each other, and where they’re heading. Combined with other tools like your booking system, this can tell you precisely how space is being utilized and how it will be utilized in the near future. If a space regularly becomes too congested, you can find alternative spaces and other remedies to prevent this from decreasing employee satisfaction and productivity.
Automation has diverse applications for workplace management. The more data you can collect, the more potential there is for automation to help you make better use of your space and recognize potential problems at scale.
For example, using preset specifications, AI-enabled space management software can detect when a space becomes too crowded, recognizing a space’s maximum capacity and alerting you when there are too many bodies occupying it.
Automation can also streamline the space planning process and show you configurations that satisfy your objectives and work within the parameters of a given space.
Perhaps most interestingly, tools like Tango Space can make automated recommendations based on how employees have used space in the past. Suppose a team of people likes to work on campus together, but they’re all remote, so they have to reserve workstations in advance and plan their on-campus time around your available space. Tango can recognize these patterns and suggest that an employee reserve a space next to their colleagues at the same time.
Innovations like this help your business manage your workplaces more effectively and on a larger scale. Administrators and leadership teams don’t have to constantly monitor your space because your space management software does it for you—often identifying opportunities and issues that would otherwise slip through the cracks.
Your employees are one of the most important variables of workplace management. Every workforce is a unique combination of individuals, each with their own preferences, desires, comforts, and needs. You don’t want to guess what will make your employees happier or more productive, and you don’t want to base decisions that affect everyone based on who happens to be the squeaky wheel.
Maintaining tight employee feedback loops is key to successfully optimizing your workplace. Anonymous survey tools [KF9] will help you collect authentic employee sentiments and keep tabs on whether employees have what they need to be happy, healthy, and productive. At Tango, we believe employee input is so crucial to workplace management that we’ve actually built a survey tool right into our IWMS software, so your survey results live in the same place as all your space utilization data, lease information, maintenance requests, and other information about your workplace.
Even if your physical space doesn’t change, over time, the way your employees use it likely will —especially if your workforce grows or shrinks. If you want to manage your workplace well, you need to adapt to how your employees use your resources, or else develop a plan to alter employee behavior.
Workplace management isn’t static. If you want to maximize the utility of your real estate and keep your workplace efficient, you need to react to what you’re seeing in the data and hearing from your employees. You may need to reconfigure the same space more than once before you find the ideal way to utilize it. You might need to fine-tune policies or even adjust your goals.
Organizations at the forefront of workplace management are undergoing some major changes. As more workplaces adopt a hybrid model, space management becomes increasingly challenging. You have a fixed supply of space, and variable demand for it. This has given way to what we refer to as the real-time occupancy management imperative. Using real-time space utilization data, companies are beginning to adjust the ways they plan and manage their workplaces based on how they’re currently being used.
Learn more about real-time occupancy management in the video below:
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