6 Takeaways from our Building Insights 2021 User Conference

On Sept. 15, we brought together over 350 facilities, corporate real estate, security, IT and HR leaders from 15 countries to virtually attend our 2021 Building Insights user conference. This year’s event was packed with rich discussions from customers, partners and of course our team of experts about ever-evolving workplace challenges, exciting company updates, and how customers are using our Workplace Management Solutions to reimagine and transform their workplace experiences that match the new, dynamic world of work. ​​

Thank you to all who joined us for another great event. For those who missed Building Insights this year, read on for our top 6 takeaways. 



1. Embrace these 6 truths to push into and through the new normal.

To start off the conference, our CEO Kurt von Koch shared the progress FM:Systems has made over the past year, what comes next in regard to our product roadmap, and our areas of attention. He says they all tie into these six foundational truths that are also happening across the industry:

  • Work from Home: We will be working from home more than ever for the foreseeable future. Pre-Covid, the number of employees who worked 2-3 days a week from home was about 3.5-5%. Today and going forward, that number will be far closer to 30-50%.
  • Be Safe & Feel Safe: Although this may seem like a no-brainer to some by now, it’s as important to provide a safe and healthy workplace to all occupants as it is to take steps in making them also feel safe. Providing clear visuals that reinforce the safety efforts an organization is making, including when a workspace was last used and that it was properly sanitized, will help achieve balancing occupant’s health and safety with confidence and trust.
  • Demand ON Space: Offices need less space for focused deep thinking “me spaces” and adapt to become predominantly a place of collaboration and ideation, or “we spaces.”
  • Door-to-Door: Similarly, as the more individual focused work continues to take place at home offices, more investment will be made in managing the full home-to-office experience. We’re starting to see an increased desire for insights into the physical workplace, like who is coming in, when and how they are using the space, as well as how workplace technologies can help both in the office and at home.
  • Touchless Experience: More and more of the occupant experience will be aggregated onto personal mobile devices. This is a trend that radically accelerated throughout the pandemic and one we expect to continue to advance.
  • Predictive and Prescriptive: Future Workplace Management Solutions will need to learn occupant preferences and provide prescriptive solutions in a passive user experience. This will provide a much more fluid, easier experience within the workplace for everyone.



2. Refocus and rationalize the workplace.

With the dramatic shifts of “we spaces” happening more within the workplace and “me spaces” shifting more inside individual home offices, smart organizations will refocus their workspaces to align with their missions. This means, a company will likely focus on innovation around their customer’s needs (i.e., the products and services they provide). For higher education institutions, the workplace will be focused on how it can best enable certifications, research and knowledge provided to students. And for healthcare organizations, the re-focused workplace will be on improving patient outcomes.



There will also continue to be a massive rationalization of corporate real estate based on its function and purpose. This doesn’t necessarily translate to less or more space – it can be either. Instead, rationalization is about adapting what existing real estate an organization has to become more directly aligned with their mission. This process involves evaluating their refocus (i.e., mission) against how much and what types of spaces they they have, which cities the spaces should be located, if they should be in suburban areas or in the heart of the city, and what types of interactions and activities the organization is trying to encourage in each space.  



3. Make workplace experiences ideal for all occupants – not just for the employees.

With an increasingly dispersed workforce and more companies adopting hybrid work models, many employees are inevitably beginning to feel and behave like visitors. In other words, because both employees and guests are going into the office on different days and times, organizations are beginning to prioritize having the right visitor management tools in place so ALL occupants – employees, contractors, and guests – can have a safe, seamless, productive and might we add enjoyable experience from the moment they arrive to the time they leave. And, by collecting data points on which people are coming in, who they’re meeting with, when they’re coming in and for how long, and why they’re coming, organizations are better informed about how to successfully deliver an ideal occupant experience now as well as more easily make any necessary changes down the road.



4. Involve HR to ensure your evolved employee strategy includes a hybrid approach to the workplace –  or expect them to leave. 

Millions of workers are leaving their jobs at record rates this year. Why? The reasons vary, but largely the pandemic has people reassessing how they spend their time, when and where they want to work, and how they have been treated – or not treated – by their employers over the last 18+ months. Study after study indicates many workers want hybrid work arrangements – so much so, they’d be willing to take a pay cut for greater flexibility or quit and look elsewhere.

During our Global Pandemic Workplace Insights partner panel, Dan Lorenz, president of AMS Workplace Technology, said, “Certainly hybrid is here to stay. Then it starts with HR getting involved, understanding what type of employees are doing, what type of job functions and which employees are going to be required to work onsite that are essential to do so, which ones can maybe flex and work in a hybrid environment, and which ones really can just go remote and come in to use bookable spaces as needed. What we’re doing and seeing is we’re either able to get this data now into our HR feed, so that we can load it into the personnel data in FMS:Workplace; because FM:Systems is so configurable, you can add a new field and then that data can be quantified and reported on for information about their job function and their type of hybrid need.” 


“If you don’t have your HR group involved when you’re thinking about hybrid, you’re going to lose competitive advantage. And, if you think you don’t need hybrid, the companies around you that are offering it and giving their people a better experience and more flexibility, they’re going to come after your people. Your people are going to actually look at that as a better place to work.”  – Eddy Wagoner, CIO of Digital for JLL


Rhonda Small, Director of RSP, added, “One good thing that the pandemic has brought, is it’s helped break down the silos to really enforce the need for all of these groups [including HR] to be talking and working together for the people.” 

There’s no going back. Covid-19 has forever changed the workplace and employee expectations. With Workplace Management Solutions and employee data collections tools that provide useful insights into how, when and where employees work best, there is so much opportunity for companies to rethink how they attract, retain and manage great talent. However, it’s the organizations that involve their HR teams and their invaluable expertise on top of data-backed insights that will really succeed in creating workplaces that will keep their people motivated, happy and loyal. 



5. Successful change management programs all come back to the employees.


Change management is a term we heard a lot about from several speakers. Organizations that embark on managing change initiatives during even “normal times” are already difficult. Doing so during a pandemic when organizations are in a constant state of planning for the unexpected makes a change management program seem like an impossible task.

Despite the current unknowns, organizations that are succeeding in implementing workplace transformation remain focused on one key area: constant employee engagement.Whether checking in with employees through surveys, 1:1 meetings, or focus groups by department or location, organizations are factoring in things like: 

  • What employees miss most about not being in the office. 
  • How the company can make the office better for them.
  • How the remote experience has been and what the company can do to make that better. 
  • How they want to work moving forward.

Then, how can technology advance the feedback employees have given? Justin Friedman, Practice Manager for CADD Microsystems says they and their customers look at creating a seamless process from start to finish, including both in-office and remote work experiences. “When I say start to finish, I think when you wake up in the morning, you book a space that you’re going to work out for the day, whether it’s a conference room, whether it’s a desk now, even having the ability to reserve a parking space,” Friedman says. After an employee parks their car and walks into the building, they “…check in at a kiosk and then use wayfinding technology to find the room or the desk that you booked for the day, or maybe even find colleagues that you want to interact with on any given day or any given moment within the day.” And finally, as an employee wraps up his/her day, “…the space checks out, maintenance comes, they clean it up behind you, and we start all over again the very next day!” 

He concluded that “a lot of our stakeholders have to be openly collaborating and be on the same page when making these kinds of changes to the employees’ situation.” Once HR, IT, facilities and real estate teams are on the same page to “construct and actually stand these spaces up, and when we have those kinds of changes ready to go, the flow of information needs to be precise and transparent about how those decisions were made, and how they’re going to impact employees on a day to day basis.”



6. Creating a future-ready workplace needs a lot of data.

Which offices are we going to keep? How are we going to reconfigure this space to ensure it meets the way our people will be using it? How is it performing after making these changes? Does it make sense from a financial standpoint?

Any of this sound familiar? Perhaps even more critical now, when organizations are having to make big decisions about their workplaces all while knowing everything can change in a moment, Friedman said it’s important to have a strategy first and not make any rash decisions. And what better way to do this than with as many data points as possible?

“When you have a strategy and you have the metrics to back it up, you’re going to make intelligent future decisions when it comes to real estate. Understanding how a space is performing over the next one to two years will give all teams – facilities, real estate, etc. – the ability to be creative when it comes to adjusting current locations; and also when we lease a new space, we have a better idea of how it should be constructed so that it meets its full potential. When we have all these steps in place, it’s going to allow for real estate portfolios to perform efficiently and also thrive over the next 5, 10 to 15 years,”

– Justin Friedman, Practice Manager, CADD Microsystems


Without leveraging rich workplace and employee experience data sets, organizations are essentially making choices based on assumptions, which often result in costly mistakes. FMS:Insights captures and analyzes key employee and workplace data in real time, so organizations can make informed, data-driven decisions with confidence that will ultimately optimize their workplace and elevate the employee experience now and long into the future. 

If you didn’t get the chance to join us live, you can watch each of the 6 sessions here, including an official introduction of FMS:Insights and FMS:Visitor!