Our annual user conference, Building Insights, has successfully wrapped up! This was our first year going virtual and we are still feeling the buzz of excitement. For us, Building Insights is not only a time to share our vision for the future but to hear the business challenges our customers are trying to solve and which creative, best practices they are using to drive results. 

Facility managers, HR and building professionals from around the world gathered for Building Insights to identify, plan, deliver, monitor and manage their workplace return – and they left with one consistent and significant point: the office of tomorrow has been completely reimagined including the roles and responsibility of facility managers.

 

Top 10 Takeaways from Building Insights:

 

1) Facility Managers Are Now at the Forefront of the Pandemic

Facility managers haven’t traditionally been “at the table” with executive decision making because much of the crucial facilities management work has been best handled behind the scenes. Pre-pandemic, a facility manager’s responsibilities may have been unclear to others but now it’s evolving and expanding with higher visibility. As we continue to adjust to the “new normal,” facility managers are analyzing new information on a daily, hourly and weekly basis in order to ensure the safety of the entire building and its occupants. We’ve seen the facilities management role really step up to the challenge and it’s been awe-inspiring to see facility managers go the extra distance. 

 

2)  Welcome To A New Era Of Communication, Transparency And Trust

Employee perception and reassurance are very crucial in the present environment, requiring not only consistent, open communications but early and frequent communications. Good communication is necessary to safely and smoothly reopen workplaces especially as the pandemic evolves and corporate decisions could change with the evolving local situations.. 

 

3) Employee Safety Has Never Been As Important As It Is Today

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, we saw unexpected and previously unconsidered safety circumstances arise like hand sanitizers being relatively unavailable but now there is one in every corner. There’s been a rapid rise of basic safety protocols to the implementation of high-tech occupancy alert systems such as University of Nottingham to keep students notified of space limitations in cafes and classrooms. While each region may have different guides on how to reopen the economy, each company’s reopening plan needs to include the safety of their occupant at the top of the list.

 

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4) It’s Not Just About Engaging Your Employees; It’s About Engaging Your Entire Team

Health and safety is an emotional conversation but one that requires cross-functional  team commitment to ensure proper sanitation – from cleaning conference rooms after use to ensuring reserved desks have been sanitized. Control the message from a single playbook to ensure alignment all the way from the leadership team to the building staff.

 

5) Flexibility Is Key To The Modern Workplace And The Cloud Will Get You There

At Sysco Business Services, employees found ways to be productive in the virtual environment but also wanted to get back to the office where in-person collaborations make their business better. The same rang true for many facility managers who were put to the test when over half of the workforce suddenly became remote. While WFH has been better than imagined, six months later with the second wave looming, companies are reimagining the office where employees feel comfortable and thrive by evolving into a hybrid workplace. Combining the best of office space and remote work, the hybrid workplace combines the flexibility and efficiency of shared workplaces with liberal remote work practices via cloud-based solutions.

 

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6) Omnichannel Is Critical To Meet Your Employees Where They Are In Real-time

Our friends at Southwest Airlines shared how some employees wanted to continue working in the office and wanted to ensure that everything was clean and sanitized. Others like the University of Delaware are now reopening their buildings for students. Regardless of when facilities reopen, a real-time notification system is critical to share live updates that keep employees safe and notify them of the evolving newscycle. 

 

7) When Embarking On Workplace Reentry, Create A Social Environment While Abiding By Social Distancing.

A common concern we heard was how to help employees interact with their space. While returning to the office has been on the minds of many, the workplace has inevitably changed and social distancing is key to help employees to feel safe. While spreading everyone out is the new standard, having meetings and collaborating in offices can still be successfully accomplished  as some customers share how they leverage room scheduling tools to keep track of utilization and proper sanitization procedures.

 

8) The Design Of Floor Plans Have Evolved

The standard layout of workplaces has changed: one-way hallways, auditorium seating spaces and multiple sanitization stations. However, the customers that felt the most prepared to reenter the workplace were the ones who could make intelligent decisions and measure accurate occupancy. When a company has good data, they have good floor plans and great reentry experiences.

 

9) There Is A Complete Paradigm Shift Of The Workplace That Will Change The Employee Experience

Now that employees, staff, students and customers are comfortable interacting in an online world, we may never get back to a fully “on-campus” function as we were before. With the right technology and ample trust, employees can be just as efficient (if not more) virtually. This paradigm shift will make buildings, corporations and universities actively reevaluate their real estate portfolio to repurpose space and create a whole new employee experience. 

 

10) The Right Tools Are Key To Your Reopening Success

From determining the parameters of occupancy on each floor to configuring mobile modules, having the right system in place not only helped facilities imagine what reentry would like in the fall but helped grow their facilities to be better utilized – some removing permanent seating to a very open and collaborative space.

 

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We covered a lot of ground, met some wonderful people, and heard from our incredible customers, partners and industry experts about how FM:System’s workplace technology is helping facility managers reopen the workplace safely and efficiently. We also had great laughs seeing humorous skits featuring “office reentry” product ideas that didn’t make the cut like sumo wrestling bubbles and super-duper powerful fans in each space! We are so grateful for every person who attended the event because the collective ideas and effort is what makes Building Insights worthwhile.

Did you attend Building Insights or have a story or takeaway to share? Tell us your favorite moment by tweeting us @FM_Systems using hashtag #BuildingInsights.

 

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