Reflections on Building Flexible Hybrid Workplaces that Work

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It’s been three years since Covid was declared a pandemic and would forever change how, when and where we work. During this time, employers have had to send employees home to work remotely (indefinitely) and then adopt new return to office policies and work models. To top it off, they’ve also faced extreme workforce challenges between burnout, talent shortages, The Great Resignation and most recently, “quiet quitting.”

It’s hardly surprising that, despite unemployment being at its lowest level in 54 years, many organizations are making preparations for an economic downturn. And while the only constant businesses have experiences is change, two trends have remained consistent through all these disruptions:

  • Organizations have had to become more adaptable in response to unprecedented change and uncertainty.
  • Hybrid and flexible work will continue to reign as the new way of work.

This contributed to many businesses taking a closer look at optimizing their real estate and workplaces. 

Let’s look at how some of our customers have turned to FM:Systems workplace management solutions over these last few years to ensure their hybrid workplaces are equally meeting the needs of their people and their bottom line, while also being responsive to inevitable changes in the months and years to come.

Space utilization data enabling new work models

Sutter Health provides coordinated healthcare to more than 3 million Californians. When the pandemic resulted in office closures and abruptly had employees work remotely, Sutter Health needed to determine how it could best streamline its administrative, non-clinical spaces that spanned northern California— one of the most expensive real estate markets in the US. 

Sutter Health chose to use FM:Systems workplace analytics solution, FMS:Insights, in early 2021 for 15 of its sites. When the nearly 12,000 administrative employees returned to those offices, the organization had an automated system to collect rich and reliable workplace data to inform its decision-making about its real estate needs now, and into the future. 

“…if we ever wanted to add on a different solution, we’d have to go through the painful process to get multiple vendor agreements signed. This undoubtedly would slow us down tremendously. FM:Systems offered us the ability to pick and choose what we wanted now, but also in the future.”

– Emily Laughton, Principal Architect, Sutter Health

Before choosing FMS:Insights, Emily Laughton, Principal Architect for Sutter Health said that while some of the vendors with single point-solutions seemed to have really user-friendly platforms, “…if we ever wanted to add on a different solution, we’d have to go through the painful process to get multiple vendor agreements signed. This undoubtedly would slow us down tremendously. FM:Systems offered us the ability to pick and choose what we wanted now, but also in the future.” – Emily Laughton, Principal Architect, Sutter Health

With FM:Systems in place, Sutter Health is looking to exit approximately 700,000 square feet of administrative space, which could translate to $21 million in cost savings. The workplace analytics data enables it to figure out which of its buildings are being used and whether those spaces are performing optimally. FM:Systems scalable workplace analytics solution has given the organization the means to adapt to ever-shifting workplace challenges through a data-driven approach.

Advanced desk booking to future-proof employee experience

In 2019, JLL, a world leader in real estate and investment management services, turned to FM:Systems for its touch panels and kiosks to display an interactive floorplan so in-office employees could see the status of meeting rooms or open desks next to specific colleagues and manage room booking functionality.

But once the pandemic hit, it became clear that the company needed the additional features of our hybrid workplace solution, FMS:Employee, to prepare the environment for a safe and effective workplace return for its employees. The system had to be adapted to provide mobile features for employees wanting to make room and desk bookings from home. In just 11 days, FMS:Employee was expanded to include an additional 626 rooms and more than 9,500 desks across 75 sites in the US and Canada.

Similar to why Sutter Health chose FM:Systems (hint: it has to do with being a flexible, all-in-one solution), when Brandon Briggs, Senior Vice President of JLL Technologies for JLL, met with the software selection team leads, they said, ”out of all the vendors considered, FM:Systems was the only provider that could support our immediate needs, with the added flexibility to grow and respond to new workplace needs going forward.”

Today, with FMS:Employee’s room and desk booking solution in place, JLL has been able to both offer a smooth transition back to work in the midst of the pandemic, while also enhancing the in-office employee experience by providing a simple way for workers to plan their in-office days ahead “…by reserving a workspace or even book a desk near a colleague they wanted to collaborate with, prior to leaving their homes,” said Kristin Hovda, IT Director of Workplace Technology at JLL

Integrated platform to optimize workplace utilization

A leading global space technology and intelligence company had to balance its rapid growth and expanding real estate footprint with adopting hybrid work. Rather than cobble together multiple solutions from different vendors, this company landed on our flagship workplace management solution, FMS:Workplace, and our FMS:Employee advanced room and desk booking solution.

With FM:Systems workplace management solution in place, this customer was able to move away from time-consuming manual spreadsheets to a system that aggregated all workplace utilization and occupancy data for complete visibility into its real estate. By being able to mine and report quality data, this also put the company’s facilities team in a far stronger strategic position: “Traditionally in facilities management, there isn’t an EVP,” said the Facilities Project Manager.

“We’re always a support organization. With FM:Systems, we’re no longer sharing anecdotal and error-prone data. Instead, we’re now able to share exactly what is happening across any building, floor, or workspace to the executive leadership team to make smart decisions that can translate into offsetting costs.” 

-BCBSM Facilities Project Manager

And, with our room and desk booking solution, the organization has been able to more seamlessly enable hybrid work where its employees can easily and quickly find a meeting room, huddle room, or hot desk so their in-office time is as productive and collaborative as possible.

What’s more? This customer says “FMS:Employee’s booking system is the most intuitive, easiest interface that makes it quick to jump into and start using right away. There is so much possibility with this tool for companies to customize it for their unique needs.” This is why this facility manager created a digital locker system on the platform so employees could leave any personal items they didn’t want to commute with on their in-office days. “If it’s reservable, it should be on FMS:Employee!” 

Improving employee efficiencies

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the largest health insurer in Michigan, serving 4.5 million people locally and 1.6 million members in other states. However, with 15 properties used by over 8,000 employees, meeting rooms would get overbooked or wouldn’t be released properly.

FMS:Employee was selected to deliver a consistent, company-wide system for managing room scheduling and desk bookings. “Whether an employee was coming to our location in Detroit or in Lansing, the process of reserving a space needed to be the same,” said Kathy Lord, Director of Facilities Administration at BCBSM. “Similarly, regardless if someone needed to book a training room, conference room, banquet room, flex department, or even the president’s conference space, the tool needed to be easy and consistent for everyone to use.”

Thanks to FM:Systems, the organization has been able to effortlessly manage all its booking needs which has translated into a more productive and positive workplace experience.

In closing

The changing world of work necessitates a more data-driven approach to space utilization and hybrid employee productivity. These are just a few examples where our solutions have enabled our customers to transform their operations and adapt to an increasingly uncertain environment.

How hybrid are you? Take our quiz to find out how your hybrid workplace strategy stacks up.

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