how facilities management teams are safely reopening offices

How Facilities Management Teams Are Safely Reopening Office Spaces

As companies start bringing employees back to the office, they’re faced with the challenge of reimagining the workplace to support safe collaboration while mitigating health and safety risks. A key component in this balancing act is how the physical office space is allocated, and how much control facilities management teams have over how shared spaces like desks and meeting rooms are used. By giving facilities management teams greater control over space planning and space utilization tools, businesses can more easily manage a hybrid workforce, put measures in place to help limit the spread of infection by enabling social distancing, and respond quickly if alerted of a positive COVID test by accessing detailed contact tracing reports.

While there are many challenges when it comes to reopening offices, one of the first hurdles to address is office capacity. With local governments enacting capacity regulations for businesses—and continually making changes to them over time—it’s crucial to gain an understanding of how many employees are entering your office, and to have the ability to limit that number according to capacity restrictions as necessary. This challenge is compounded when businesses operate offices in multiple regions, as guidelines differ depending on the country, state, and sometimes municipality. However, the current critical needs are larger than just managing how many people enter the building. Once employees have entered the office, businesses need to understand how employees are using the office space and be able to control which office resources (desks, common areas, conference rooms) are available for employee use based on sanitation schedules, social distancing requirements, and more.

Let’s dive into some of the ways you can gain control of your office space, how more control over your spaces can help enable a safe return to the office and benefit your business in the long run.

Control Which Spaces are Available with Desk & Room Booking

Many companies are gradually reopening their workplaces by bringing employees back in phases or allowing them to work in the office on a flexible schedule, giving rise to hybrid workforce models. Within this new hybrid working model, fixed desk assignments will no longer be the standard. There will most likely be different employees in the office every day using the same shared resources, making it challenging to manage which desks are being used by which employees. A flexible desk and room booking solution allows businesses to give hybrid workers the space they need when they’re in the office and track space utilization trends over time.

FWI has a solution to help your business solve this challenge. With the SmartSpace Global (SSG) platform, businesses can easily control which desks are available to be reserved on any given day based on sanitation schedules, social distancing guidelines, and other health and safety considerations.

Better Enable your Employees with a Flexible Mobile App

A key consideration in getting employees to quickly and effectively adopt any space reservation solution is making sure it’s accessible, flexible, and easy to use. The best way to guarantee employees feel confident using these tools is to put the power to book space in their hands—via their own mobile device—similar to how many other things in their personal lives are managed.

With the SSG platform, not only do businesses gain dynamic, granular control over office space resources, but they can also empower employees to use our intuitive mobile app to book desks or rooms from their personal devices. In addition to mobile resource booking capabilities, employees can use the mobile app to navigate space via maps of the office environment, find colleagues based on where they’ve reserved desks/conference rooms, and find the quickest path to their destination with point-to-point wayfinding.

Gain Greater Insight into Space Usage with IoT Sensor Technology

While enabling employees to book space is important, it doesn’t provide actual resource usage data—we’ve all booked a resource of some type in our personal and professional lives without actually using it. Businesses also need to understand how space is used once employees are in the office. By collecting occupancy data, businesses can understand how their spaces are being used and measure that against space reservation data. By implementing occupancy sensor technology, businesses can gain an accurate view of space utilization that allows them to comply with COVID-19 guidelines and optimize space to make the best use of their real estate. Sensors can accurately measure capacity, detect when a room or workstation is in use, measure the distance between individuals, and automate workflows for desk and room check-in and sanitation schedules. For more information, check out our blog on occupancy sensor technology, which explores the different types of sensors available and how they can be used to more fully inform how office resources are actually being used.

While sensors provide your facilities management teams with useful insight on how your space is being used, they can also provide data that can be used to help solve one of the most difficult challenges facing businesses today—contact tracing.

Help Limit the Spread of Infection with Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a key element of safely bringing employees back to the office and helping slow the spread of COVID-19. By controlling which spaces are available for employees with desk and room reservations and gaining a real view of space utilization with occupancy sensors, businesses will have the tools necessary to alert employees if they have been in contact with a coworker who has reported a positive COVID test.

With the SmartSpace Global platform, facilities management teams will be able to access detailed contact tracing reports and understand which resources and employees an infected individual came in contact with. After learning which meeting rooms and desk areas the infected person used, companies will have the ability to block off the impacted workspaces that need to be deep cleaned to help prevent further spread. These contact tracing capabilities give companies the control and confidence to act fast in the event of an infection. To learn more, check out this overview of SSG’s contact tracing capabilities.

Safely reopening the office is challenging. Now more than ever, facilities managers need to have control over office space and how it’s used. By controlling resource usage, empowering employees to easily reserve office space with a mobile app, gaining occupancy insight with sensor technology, and helping reduce the spread of infection with advanced contact tracing reporting, businesses will be equipped to help safely reopen offices today and continually optimize their workplaces in the future. To learn more about how SmartSpace Global can help you gain greater control of your office space, book a workshop with us and we’ll discuss the challenges you’re facing; plus help you develop a strategy to safely reopen your workplace.

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