Tag: facility management

Workplace Technology Adoption Will Continue to Drive Organizational Priorities

michael blog header1 - Workplace Technology Adoption Will Continue to Drive Organizational Priorities

In our recent webcast, Eddy Wagoner, CIO JLL, showed that ‘future fit’ organizations outpace their peers in technology adoption and demonstrated the strong correlation between technology adoption and market outperformance.

Prior to COVID-19, JLL surveyed a little over 600 companies about what they were focused on and their priorities for 2020. In that survey, it revealed a shifting in priorities for the real estate industry. Investing in corporate real estate technology jumped from being a lower priority to being the top priority over the next three years.



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Since the survey results pre-dated the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to check our audience’s sentiment on data analytics. We polled webinar attendees with the question, “How likely it is that organizations will improve data gathering and analytics on workplace use?” We were struck by the overwhelmingly affirmative response, some 82% of respondents found it very likely (43%) or highly likely (39%), which boldly signals that CRE technology investment will only accelerate post-pandemic.


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The Advantages of Being a Data-Driven Organization


It’s well known (as evidenced in reports from all of the major strategy consultancies) that data-driven organizations are increasing their competitive advantage over less-informed organizations. The McKinsey Global Institute has found, for example, that data-driven organizations are 23 times more likely to acquire customers, 6 times as likely to retain customers, and 19 times as likely to be profitable as a result.


With the major shifts happening across all industries due to COVID-19, having the right CRE technologies in place should remain a top priority now more than ever. Technology empowers organizations with the flexibility that’s crucial to navigating these major changes.


“If I told you in January that your entire workforce was going to go remote and that you were going to close your offices, people would have thought I was crazy. I would’ve thought I was crazy. Now we’ve proven that we need to be 100% flexible.” 

-Eddy Wagoner, CIO JLL Technologies


Prudent CFOs will seek to curtail expenses in difficult times, however, investing in technology is a proven way to reduce costs, increase efficiencies, ensure employee and customer satisfaction and retention, and prepare for the future.   


While organizations may be looking to reduce short- and long-term obligations, a time of disruptive change such as this is the ideal moment to make investments that prepare the organization to be ‘future fit.’ The challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how to emerge from it, may be just the incentive you need to commit to data analytics to identify opportunities, enable better management, and inform and support key FM and CRE decisions. 


Workplace Analytics Solutions Can Help You To:


  • Leverage data for use- or event-based vs. programmed cleaning 
  • Right-size workstations and conference rooms for physical distancing 
  • Quantify occupant density and triggering alerts when this exceeds a threshold 
  • Quantify employee mobility for agile workspaces and desk sharing initiatives 
  • Enable targeted contamination follow-up in affected areas and employees. 


Leading solutions such as the FM:Systems portfolio of facilities management products can help organizations better prepare for a return to the workplace in the coming months. With these solutions, organizations can improve workplace effectiveness, and become future fit, by leveraging data analytics and IoT technologies that make the collection and tracking of space utilization data easier, more automated, and more accurate than ever before. 




Watch the full webcast >


Written by Michael Gresty, VP of Workplace Analytics at FM:Systems. Michael has over 25 years of experience advising Fortune 500 companies on leveraging workplace data to create an efficient, productive organization.

Working from Home for Beginners: Tips from a WFH Veteran

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Organizations across the country are accepting the responsibility of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing (or, in some cases, mandating) employees to work from home (WFH).  In recent weeks, IT departments have scrambled to ensure employees have everything they need to carry on with business as usual:  headsets and docking stations and VPN access for internal systems.  But a successful day from home requires more than the right tech stack.  Employees have to adjust to a new routine and set clear boundaries to be successful.  Work from home requires discipline, but there are habits you can adopt that can ultimately boost your overall productivity.  

The current public health emergency has also necessitated school closures, which means not only are employees working from home, their school-age children are there as well.  This creates a very interesting dynamic for two-income families and will require flexibility and understanding across the board.  As someone who has worked from home full-time for over five years and strived to balance work and life with young children, these are my tips and tricks to make the most of working from home. 


Have a Dedicated Workspace   

One of the biggest changes when working from home is losing that physical, and often mental, transition from ‘home’ to ‘work’.  Having a dedicated workspace is key to facilitating that mental switch.  You may not have a dedicated home office, but try to find a space in your house that you don’t utilize as often in your daily home routine.  A formal dining room, a guest room, even a large walk-in closet can be repurposed to serve as your workspace.  Try to keep it clear from at-home distractions like personal mail or laundry so when you sit down, you can immerse yourself in a professional mindset.  Listening to the same music or radio shows that you would when commuting can also help you psychologically transition.  


 Create a Schedule  

Some folks struggle with the lack of structure that can arise when you work from home.  It’s important to create a daily schedule and stick to it.  Take breaks and a lunch like you normally would and set a time to sign off for the day.  It’s critical to establish boundaries between your home life and your work life, especially when both are occurring in the same physical space.  


Resist the Urge to Multi-task  

Women, in particular, have an almost innate ability to do multiple things at the same time.  And while it might be tempting to fold that load of laundry during the all-hands call, those distractions can add up and keep you from being fully engaged with your work and your colleagues.  Set clear times in your schedule when you will focus on home tasks, so you can give your co-workers and work tasks your undivided attention.  

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Optimize your Commuting Time  

Not commuting to an office is a huge advantage of working remotely, and in many cases, it can add an hour or more back to your day.  And while it can be tempting to sleep in and enjoy an extra cup of coffee in that free time, think of how you can optimize your schedule now that you don’t have that requirement.  When do you do your best work?  When do you prefer to exercise?  I have personally found that I am most creative right when I wake up.  When I work from home, I can have that creative, productive time when I would normally be getting ready and sitting in traffic.  I can have two solid hours under my belt by the time I would normally be arriving at the office.  Working from home gives you a different kind of autonomy over your daily schedule.  Consider switching up your workout time or talk to your manager about starting and ending your day an hour earlier to really experience the flexibility that working from home offers.        


Turn On Your Camera

Loneliness can be a major downside of working from home, especially if you are naturally an extroverted personality.  Using your web cam during conference calls can help you feel more connected, and it can motivate you to keep a more professional appearance which often translates to improved productivity.  Staying in your pj’s all day might be comfy and novel at first, but it can negatively impact performance in the long-run.  


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Discover your inner Marie Kondo

You don’t have to clean out your closets to adopt the key principle that the Marie Kondo model is based on:  a place for everything, and everything in its place.  With entire families staying home all day, the house is going to pretty messy pretty fast, and that can add frustration and tension when you are having a stressful work day.  Encourage your family members and housemates to embrace that simple idea:  put things back when you are finished with them.  And give everyone a unique water bottle for the day or the cups are going to multiply in your sink like a science experiment. 


Give Compliments, Recognition and Praise

When you’re in the office, and you close a big deal or finish a tough project, co-workers are there to give high-fives and go out for a celebratory lunch.  But if you’re at home with just your cat, the response can be a little underwhelming.  Not having regular feedback and encouragement can be a tough aspect of working remotely.  Managers can play a big role here:  create opportunities for your team to share their accomplishments, provide positive feedback and make sure employees and co-workers know just how valuable they are. 


Have a Plan for Partners and Children  

One reality of working from home, especially in the current environment, is that you may not be the only one there.  Establishing clear boundaries with your children, partners and roommates is essential to making work from home work for you.    

  • Have a visual indicator when you are busy – something as simple as a neon-colored post-it note can let your family know you are on an important call and can’t be interrupted.  
  • Build family time into the daily schedule – kids thrive on routine.  If they know they are going to have lunch with you, they can usually save their ‘really important question’ for that time.  Have a place where they can write down or draw pictures of things they want to tell you so they don’t forget.   You can also set an old fashioned timer outside your door so they can see how much longer until you are available. 
  • Anticipate interruptions – if your kids are like mine, they are already bored and need a snack.  Keep healthy snacks and bottles of water where kids can easily reach them and help themselves.  Have puzzles, toys and art supplies at the ready, and try to coordinate their screen time with your critical meetings and projects.  
  • Anticipate boredom – if you have a playroom that is teeming with toys, pack up half of them, especially things they don’t play with often, and store them out of sight.  In a couple of weeks when you bring them back out, they will seem like brand-new toys, and their interest will be renewed.   
  • Over-communicate your needs and expectations – Kids can perceive when their parents are stressed, and it tends to make them needy.  They feel unsettled by your stress, and so they seek more of your attention as a way to feel reassured.  Which, if you are a stressed parent trying to work from home, extra attention for your kids may be in short supply.  Talk honestly about your expectations for the day and listen to their concerns and ideas.  Explain as best you can what you do and why it is important.  Talk through the day’s routine and create a visual schedule for younger kids to keep them on track.  Choose specific toys or games for the day and help them get started before you dig into work.  When the work day is over, reward their great behavior and tell them how much you appreciate all they did to help you get your work done.    

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Whether you are at home with your family, at home with a roommate, or flying solo, adjusting to our new normal is going to be a challenge.  The most important thing we can all strive for is an overabundance of patience and good humor.  Sometimes the audio on the web conference just isn’t going to work.  Your dog will inevitably spot the mailman when you get to the most important part of your presentation.  And all the planning in the world is not going to stop your 4-year-old from coming in and announcing to your top prospect that she has a gummy bear stuck in her ear.  Learn to be quick on the draw with your mute button and roll with the punches.  All families are struggling with the current situation; a sense of humor and a forgiving attitude can go a long way to helping us feel connected and engaged.  We are all in this together, no matter how isolated we might feel. 


Written by Jennifer Heath, FM:Systems’ Director of Product Operations. Jennifer’s been working from home full time for the past 6 years.


Download our e-book to learn more about smart office technology and how it can prepare organizations for a more mobile workforce.


Do You Know How Coronavirus (COVID-19) Is Impacting Your Facilities Management Strategy?

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Without actionable workplace analytics, this question is difficult to really answer. You may be thinking to yourself, “What in the world does workplace analytics and COVID-19 have in common?”  As of the time of this being written, the World Health Organization has officially declared a global pandemic and several significant social distancing measures have been taken around the world:  travel from Europe to the US has been temporarily banned, the NBA has suspended its season, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is canceled, Italy has shut down all non-essential commerce, major cruise lines canceled all sailings for two months, the stock market has paused trading twice due to sell offs and officially moved into bear market territory, etc.  No matter your age, it’s turning out to be one of, if not the most culturally impacting events of a lifetime.


As far as the workplace is concerned, organizations are encouraging or mandating that employees work from home and workplace utilization metrics now required reporting back to executives for tracking.  So, what does that leave us with?  The answer… a whole lot of empty office space.  I would even argue that it leaves organizations with EVEN MORE empty office space.  Most respected reporting sources state that office space is utilized around 50% on average anyways.  Working from home is not a new trend.  For the last decade or so, organizations have been supporting the agile and mobile workforce with concepts like hoteling and remote work, enabling the benefits of work-life balance and performance all while saving millions on their balance sheets with smaller and more efficient spaces redesigned to embrace these concepts.  It’s been a win-win methodology for organizations that truly embrace it.

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This all brings us to the year 2020 and COVID-19.  When business goes back to normal, executives, facilities, and real estate teams must come together and evaluate what the impact truly was of having a largely mobile workforce.  Why not take the opportunity right now to evaluate what action to take with your space that was already unused before the coronavirus?  This would mean seriously taking a look at workplace analytics technology to get empirical facts on how space is being used.  Helpful hint:  make sure you choose a solution that can give you past, present, and future data in order to look at utilization pre- and post- COVID-19.


According to the Deloitte Insights 2020 commercial real estate outlook , only 30 percent of organizations are capturing data and actually generating insights for decision making.  That means most organizations are staring down the barrel of millions and millions of wasted real estate dollars.  For most companies, the most expensive line items on the balance sheet are people and real estate.  If people can do the work that is required of them from anywhere, how many millions of dollars are potentially being wasted for business that is being performed elsewhere?


Learn more about the benefits of having a flexible workspace.

The Business Advantages of Moving to the Cloud

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Ten years ago, cloud computing was the number one technology impacting corporate leadership and IT effectiveness.  Would it surprise you to know the same is essentially true today?

IT leaders across the board are looking at 2020 and beyond almost exclusively in terms of the cloud: from hybrid models and private clouds to serverless paradigms and expansive API integrations, the cloud continues to dominate IT innovation and corporate strategy.  Machine learning, artificial intelligence, the IOT and IOE, even quantum computing all trace their roots to the data and power available in the cloud.

How did cloud technology so completely transform corporate IT?  It started with a few key benefits that continue to make the case for cloud computing today.


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Cloud computing is based on the idea that the bulk of the workload takes place on a machine, usually remote, that is not the one currently being used. Data collected is stored and processed by remote, or cloud, servers. This means the machine or device being used doesn’t have to work as hard. Cloud applications are typically hosted by public cloud providers such as Microsoft Azure or AWS, creating an opportunity for internal IT organizations to shift non-mission critical enterprise solutions to Cloud Service Providers so they can concentrate on their core business systems. This can result in significant cost reductions, more efficient operations and greater agility in support of an organizations mission.

The market research company Vanson Bourne released a report entitled “The Business Impact of the Cloud” which demonstrated that companies’ adopting cloud technologies are reaping the benefits, including an average 19.63% increase in company growth.


Cloud solutions enable enterprises to quickly and easily scale their IT efforts up or down, based on their unique business needs.  If your business demands increase, you can easily increase your cloud resources without having to invest in physical infrastructure. This scalability gives cloud-based organizations an advantage over competitors by minimizing the risk and cost associated with in-house operational management and maintenance especially when it comes to enterprise solutions that are important to individual business units but may not have mission critical value to the entire organization.

Further, cloud scalability extends to the possibility for integrations. Not only does cloud computing allow organizations to scale up or down as their business needs change, it creates a new opportunity to scale across the IT spectrum with powerful application level integrations to existing internally hosted data solutions or even other Cloud solution.


It is the area of user experience where the cloud might have its most far-reaching impact.  Cloud computing is essentially computing based on the internet. In the past, people would run programs from software downloaded on a physical computer or server on their local network. Cloud computing allows people access to the same kinds of applications through the internet which has opened the door for true mobility.

Employees in every industry are embracing mobility as a way to improve their work/life balance and increase their personal productivity.  More agile work styles combined with the rise of a global economy means work is happening 24/7, and the traditional 9-5 workday has become obsolete.  HR departments are recognizing mobility and flexible work schedules as a unique benefit that improves both recruiting and retention.  Real estate executives are seeing the opportunity to optimize their portfolios, armed with real-time utilization data provided by IoT occupancy sensors.  The cloud has fostered a digital workplace that brings HR, IT and Facilities together in a new way to create a dynamic employee experience that benefits both the employee and the employer.

The extraordinary impact of the cloud continues to reverberate, and its impact on the workplace experience can’t be overstated.  IT leaders will continue to innovate and grow their business with cloud-first and cloud-only policies.  If the cloud is still uncharted territory for your organization, let FM:Systems be your guide to the dynamic digital workplace.

Learn more about the benefits of SaaS by downloading our e-book: The Top 5 Benefits of SaaS



Workplace Management: What is It & What are the Benefits?

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Workplace Management in the New Era

Workplace management is the cornerstone of maintaining a building and the environment for work. With a frictionless workplace, employees can work efficiently and safely. It’s a strategic part of keeping employees happy and ensuring that the overall execution of facilities management.

Let’s take a look at workplace management (sometimes known as an integrated workplace management system) and what goes into ensuring that your facility runs smoothly. It’s so much more than just space utilization; it’s a comprehensive strategy.


What is Workplace Management?

Workplace management falls under facility management, but it focuses on the optimization of the physical environment of the workplace. Its partner, business management, focuses on the activities of the workplace, but workplace management optimizes and oversees the environment in which the work takes place.

What workplace management means depends a lot on the physical assets of the building itself. It could be making a secure check-in or managing desk and meeting spaces. It even comes down to things like overall temperature or the types of lights that filter through the building.


Who Needs Workplace Management?

Large organizations often have workplace management systems within facility management or IWMS. With this type of large scale corporation, it’s essential to maintain a productive and comfortable working environment. This involves making sure meeting and working spaces are secure, available, and comfortable enough to encourage productivity.

Large corporations have a lot of space to manage. Disgruntled employees fed up with the way bathrooms are maintained, the uncomfortable temperature, and never having a meeting space can lead to bouts of low morale, and that never gets the company the innovation it desires.

Smaller businesses and startups sometimes leave out this type of management, thinking the space is small enough to skip it. However, the physical environment in which employees work is a huge factor in productivity and innovation.

To compete with larger corporations, smaller businesses need a solid workplace management strategy to give employees the best and healthiest workplace conditions. Even the smallest teams need to understand how space facilitates or hinders work. These conditions also form the basis of scaling up personnel later.

For both sides, the financial burden of a mismanaged space can’t be ignored. Everything from energy utilization to security is a potential cost that can be mitigated with the right IWMS or workplace management system in place.

In some cases, an integrated workplace management system is a cross-company process, especially for businesses that share the same building. Workplace management ensures equitable treatment and a good relationship between different organizations in one space.


What Are Workplace Management Considerations?

So we know what workplace management is, but what specific things does it cover? There are a few significant areas in which a workplace management system is necessary:

Furniture layout

Nothing says cold, sterile workplace like cubicles, but totally open workspaces are giving your introverts anxiety. Understanding how to lay out an office helps you take advantage of different personalities and encourage a good workflow. These needs can change over time, so a strategy is always evolving.

Other considerations with furniture are energy needs and space optimization. If your staff grows, how do you give everyone room? Are you maximizing equipment energy? Are you keeping temperatures at the right place to ensure the safety of the equipment? All logical questions. And if space just isn’t working, you need data to facilitate relocation.

Workplace Assignments

Traditionally, the office was broken up by department, but we’re finding out that it doesn’t always facilitate efficiency. There may be times when your designer needs to sit next to the developer, and those workplace assignments may change as projects change.

If you have a nice open floor plan, that can facilitate a changing seat assignment, but offices with more structure may need a little more creativity. Software that helps with creative workplace arrangements may help or just rearranging equipment to facilitate movement between workplaces.

Planning For the Future

Workplace management is a big part of planning for the future. You may not plan to stay in your current workplace forever, so a little planning for the move is in order. It’s possible that you may have to make plans to move before you’re forced to.

The process of moving is more than just putting things in boxes. It’s an entire coordinated process of taking inventory, setting a timeline, and potentially designing the whole new space to facilitate the workflow. Workplace management systems ensure it all goes smoothly.



The Benefits of Workplace Management

There are quite a few benefits to workplace management strategies. It’s a smart policy and helps streamline the environment. With a system in place, there are quite a few things that can start going really right.

Better Morale

Employees who have efficient and workable spaces are better prepared for the day. They have workspaces that they know will support their work and the facilities are well maintained. With smooth operations, workers are more comfortable and more engaged.

Employee satisfaction hasn’t always been a concerning metric, but we now know that employees dedicated to their workplace are more passionate and more willing to take chances. It could be just that morale that gets the business its next significant innovation.

Easier Automation

Workplace management systems make automation easier. Those little details are sometimes forgotten but can also cause major issues down the road. Workplace management helps ensure that unplanned downtime is mitigated, and workplace obstacles are kept to a minimum.

Automation takes a lot off the manager’s plate when managing small, day to day details. MRO supplies get ordered without fail, the technician always has the right work orders, and all the reports are at the manager’s fingertips.

Reduced Overhead

Overhead refers to the ongoing business expenses not directly attributed to creating a product or service. Energy costs, HVAC, plumbing – these are things that can cause a huge dent in a business’s budget. Strategic management of a workplace can help reduce these overall costs and ensure that real estate forecasting happens easily and quickly.

Whether you’re planning a move or trying to manage a smart building, you can manage all the details and use the building to your advantage. You can also prepare for expansion and scale and potential situations such as renting spaces to other organizations.


Implementing Workplace Management

Building a stable workplace management system ensures that your employees have an environment that’s comfortable and safe. It improves morale and encourages employees to work efficiently.

These management strategies involve the oversight and optimization of where your employees must work every day. That environment can quickly turn sour if you aren’t able to keep up with the details that matter, or if you haven’t been able to optimize the space, you may lose your most valuable workers.

If you’re also planning on expansion in the future or pursuing new real estate, you’ll need a solid workplace management strategy to ensure that it’s as smooth as possible. The workplace management system is a way to scale in the future with a lot less stress.

A proper workplace strategy puts a physical foundation in place for both new employees and returning employees to function to their highest potential. It’s a critical piece that you can’t afford to overlook because it’s such a vital part of your overall business culture. Once you have a system in place, it could ensure that you never worry about your morale or your infrastructure again.


Learn more about the best practices about managing your space to maximize your real estate investments.