The average workplace has changed a lot in the past few years. The pandemic caused an exodus from the office and forced millions of employees to work from home. Even as many of them return to the office, they’re coming back with new expectations about what their workspace can look like. As businesses work to keep up with these changing expectations, they’re finding ways to optimize their spaces to improve employee satisfaction and increase productivity.
Here are five of the top trends in workspace optimization.
Rather than being fully remote or fully onsite, hybrid workplaces allow you to get the best of both worlds. Employees may alternate between working remotely and being on campus, or some may be fully remote and others fully in-person. This provides the convenience and cost savings of remote work, as well as the workplace culture and collaboration of onsite work.
This isn’t a new idea, but it has grown in popularity along with the rise in demand for remote work. During pandemic restrictions, many employees found that they were not only able to work from home without losing productivity, but they actually thrived at it. For certain positions, they have come to expect remote work as the default option. Still, employers may worry about the long-term effects of fully remote work, and of course some positions require employees to be on site. As a result, many businesses are shifting to a hybrid workplace model.
Large enterprises have helped drive this trend, and it appears to be here to stay. For example, Microsoft announced that they were switching to a hybrid workplace, stating, “Whether employees are working from home, at the workplace or utilizing many of the outdoor collaboration spaces we have at our work sites, our approach seeks to create a sense of belonging and helps teams stay connected however they choose to work.”
Not too long ago, office space optimization meant densification of workspaces. By placing more employees in less space, businesses were able to reduce occupancy costs and maximize room for growth. But COVID-19 changed all that. Occupancy limits were lowered, and social-distancing regulations were enacted, forcing a reversal of the densification that had taken place.
Although many of the official occupancy restrictions from the pandemic are being lifted, many employees remain wary of being packed in too tightly with their coworkers. In fact, in a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, 34% of respondents said they would need continued social distancing in order to feel comfortable returning to on-site work. And beyond social distancing, de-densification can also help reduce clutter, make it easier to clean thoroughly, and offer a more serene environment conducive to productivity.
Rather than investing in additional real estate, many organizations are de-densifying their workspaces by tracking space utilization metrics and repurposing underutilized areas. Hybrid workplaces also help with de-densification by reducing the number of employees in the office at a given time, allowing you to get by with fewer workspaces.
Instead of having each employee sit at an assigned workstation all day, activity-based working allows employees to move around from space to space as needed. And rather than each workstation having to provide everything an employee may need, every space is optimized for a particular kind of work.
Workplaces that use an ABW model typically have open areas for generalized work, isolated spaces for focused work, and rooms for collaborative work. They may also offer specialized spaces like treadmill desks, café areas, lounge rooms, and stations equipped with particular tools. Studies have shown that activity-based working tends to improve employee satisfaction, promote better health, and increase productivity.
When Publicis created their new headquarters in New York City, they adopted an activity-based working environment, designed by Clive Wilkinson. Speaking on how the office now functions, Wilkinson says, “The greatest influence is putting everyone in close proximity to everyone else, in earshot, in one open space with no barriers, and then encircling that space with private rooms that you can dash into to make calls or have meetings or whatever. It’s a pretty simple formula.”
The more advanced these workspace models become, the more important it becomes to track occupancy analytics to keep up with the changing dynamics. And we’ve come a long way from relying on crude metrics like badge scans and visual walkthroughs to determine how a space is used. Smart IoT sensors like LiDAR strips and blurred vision cameras enable you to access real-time occupancy data for any space and track utilization over time.
Advanced space management software can take those occupancy levels and combine them with data from additional sources like booking, scheduling, lease administration, and facilities maintenance, giving you a full picture of not only how your space is being used, but how much it’s costing per room, per seat, and per person.
These insights can show you which spaces are performing as expected, which spaces are underutilized, and which spaces are in high demand that may need to be expanded. Then you’re empowered to optimize your space accordingly
Although sharing a workspace has typically been considered the realm of startups and independent contractors, larger, more established companies are finding advantages to it as well. For example, when Spotify decided to allow employees to work anywhere, they provided memberships to coworking spaces for employees who wanted an office environment to work in.
Flexible office spaces provide the same functionality as a traditional office space, but at a much lower cost due to the reduced overhead of sharing a space. They also offer more flexible leases and make it easier to move in more quickly. On the other hand, flexible office spaces are much less private, and for this reason, they may not always be the best fit.
Whether you’re de-densifying your space, embracing a hybrid workplace model, or just trying to make the most of the space you have, you need a modern space management solution. Tango Space takes out all the guesswork and makes it easy to keep up with the ever-changing workplace.