Evolving workplace and workforce norms and trends have created a crucial demand for modern occupancy planning methodologies and technologies.
The technologies and methodologies occupiers and workplace teams utilized for occupancy planning before Covid are losing relevance for many reasons. In this blog post, we will explore:
Many of the pre-Covid tools occupiers and workplace teams used for occupancy planning aren’t conducive to hybrid work or fluid workplace strategies. From post-Covid work strategies via flexible scheduling and reservation systems, legacy systems and tools don’t support the ever-evolving needs of occupiers and workplace teams.
Additionally, pre-Covid tools tend to be clunky and inherently siloed. Most teams use separate tools for design, workplace strategy, HR management, and occupancy planning, in order to be responsive to our current, hybrid times.
As a result, the main challenges organizations face are fragmented data sources, data integrity issues, and consistency problems between different data sources. This not only hinders the decision-making process but is also time and labor intensive--with internal teams wasting many hours a week to align on data inputs and outputs to get the crucial insights necessary to make workplace changes.
Occupancy planning is already complex enough; however, vertically integrated systems can help workplace teams "navigate the intricacies of managing and fully utilizing an ever-increasing amount of flexible workspace.” They can also streamline the collection and analysis of “the data needed to optimize space based on changing needs, effectively perform moves, and allocate space back to the organization.”
1) Workplace teams are dealing with a lot of uncertainty
As offices reopen, many occupiers are unsure on just how to accommodate the hybrid needs of their workforce. Because of this uncertainty, new methodologies and technologies that foster an iterative mindset to space--i.e., looking at office space as an evolving entity rather than a one-and-done initiative--can help workplace teams learn what will bring employees back to physical workspaces.
Relying on real-time utilization data for occupancy planning allows occupiers to “accurately predict growth and effectively plan ahead” as spatial needs fluctuate--i.e., enabling occupiers and workplace teams to make on-the-fly decisions to properly optimize office space.
2) Different, post-Covid stress points for employees
In our more post-Covid times, there is an increased focus on the employee experience.
From the employee’s physical and mental health, to their emotional and overall well-being, legacy technologies don’t have a means of capturing the entire employee experience. These tools were built in the context of people to desks who were in the office, Monday through Friday, regardless of how they felt about the office.
Hybrid work has changed this and new age tools must allow occupiers to get a better understanding of the whole employee. Post-Covid technologies and methodologies have to be nimble, responsive, and intelligent enough to capture the pulse of employee stressors and their perception of office space, in order to obtain the actionable insights that reveal true workplace usage patterns. This helps occupiers make better informed--and once again, iterative--design decisions.
IWMS is the most widely accepted tool as it provides a combination of different capabilities.
Occupancy planning tends to be one of the key features and organizations often customize and buy IWMS to fit their needs.
However, many occupiers are unhappy with their occupancy planning tools because they often have to use other separate tools for tasks which should ideally be accommodated in their IWMS. This leads to:
The right technology stack should be vertically integrated and provide a single system--or single source of truth--when it comes to programming, designing, occupancy planning, office utilization, and the employee experience.
Occupiers that utilize vertically integrated technologies can achieve three major outcomes:
1) Reduction of time on costly manual tasks
As previously mentioned, trying to get fragmented technology stacks to talk to one another is time consuming and costly. It is estimated that 70% of corporate real estate projects are delayed by over three months, with budget overruns occurring as often as 25% from disparate datasets and manual processes.
By leveraging vertically integrated technologies, occupiers can streamline internal workflows and increase effective collaboration by having all facets of programming, design, occupancy planning, the employee experience, and utilization data all in one place.
2) Optimization of real estate portfolios by way of space iteration
The needs of the post-Covid workplace and dynamic worker behaviors are fluid--making the optimization of space an evolving endeavor.
Occupancy planning and spatial design is no longer a one-and-done initiative. What the post-Covid office should look like is gray and occupiers must combat ambiguity by iterating space until it’s fully optimized for their unique and specific workforce.
3) Promotion of employee happiness
At the end of the day, better occupancy planning technologies and methodologies should work towards the increase of employee satisfaction and happiness with office space.
The right technology will allow occupiers to take in real-time information and data that’s reflective of how people actually work, as well as their behaviors and preferences. As noted by two workplace experts from JLL, “In order to provide employees with engaging and productive office spaces, workplace and real estate teams need to know as much about employee behavior as possible.” Occupancy planning must be rooted in employee behavior in order to ensure employees are happy and satisfied with their office space.
Modern occupancy planning practices ensure you manage your space to the needs of your employees. And while the employee is the ultimate beneficiary, other roles--and their specific functions in the business--will also reap the benefits of modern occupancy planning practices:
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