Helping you adopt & adapt the Microsoft Modern Workplace & Azure Cloud for your business

Creating a new workspace that works

How you can make returning to the office work for everyone

The signs are encouraging, and although social distancing rules have relaxed, June 21st is still the date most firms are waiting on for aiming at to enact a return to the workplace in a meaningful way.

What do we mean by meaningful?

For many organisations it’s not just about getting as many people back into the office as possible whilst social distancing.

It’s about using office space in a new way that delivers true value to individuals, teams, and the company as a whole:

A space to concentrate working from home isn’t always the best place for individuals to be productive and focused.   For many staff members (especially those with young families) a visit to the office can offer a private desk with reduced noise and fewer distractions than they perhaps have at home.

An opportunity to collaborate properly with your team – When we are physically together, it’s easier to avoid distractions and focus on group tasks. 

Getting access to resources – Not having convenient access to the equipment you need to do your job can seriously hamper productivity:  High resolution scanners, colour printers, shredders, etc.

Learning on the job –  One of the main concerns raised by Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon was around new recruits who wouldn’t get the “direct mentorship” they need.

In person training – Although Teams provides a great platform for virtual in-person training (VILT) you can’t beat real breakout rooms.

Team building – Face-to-face interaction enables us to get to know each other informally, build deeper connections and gain a shared understanding that have a positive impact on subsequent virtual meetings.

Cross fertilisation of ideas – that serendipitous water cooler moment, as industry analysts are calling it, when co-workers or employees in completely different parts of the company connect and spark creativity and innovation.

Wellbeing – The impact of being able to meet colleagues in person cannot be underestimated.  While many have thrived in a lockdown working situation, for some people the workplace is a key source of social interaction that has been missing for over a year.  

See below for our quick summary on what to look for in a ‘next generation’ workspace booking solution to help you return to the ‘new format’ office.

The ‘new format’ office

With this in mind, many organisations have taken the opportunity to re-format their offices:  

  • Providing a variety of different workspaces that employees can choose from, depending on the task at hand.
  • Creating clusters of various types of space into a neighbourhood or zone where teams working on a certain project or in a particular department can gather.
  • Providing multi-media resources: Video Conferencing screens, white boards
  • Investing in a great-looking, funky workspace that offers value add over a regular office, creches, yoga classes and more, with staff well-being front of mind.

What’s counter-productive to the new workspace is:

  • Having to get in extra early in the morning and be part of a mad scrum to get the workspace you want
  • Being unfamiliar with the new office layout
  • Folk hogging the same desk/resources day in, day out
  • Struggling to get your team into the office on the same day and seated in the same area.

This is where a workspace booking system can help.

Below are some of the scenarios you should expect to support with a next generation workspace booking system:

First off – this is how your workforce should be benefiting:

For your workforce Solution features (that make this possible)
Make it easy to find a workspace with the optimal facilities for their planned office visit
  • Convenient workspace booking from Outlook, web or mobile (Android or iPhone)
  • Selection from an interactive floor plan that gives visibility at-a-glance
  • Search & selection filtering according to workspace attributes such as riser desk, docking station, quiet space, multiple screens, accessibility, etc.
Build confidence that their visit will be COVID-safe.
  • Automatically block out adjacent desks when a workspace is booked, or
  • Make only pre-designated, safely-spaced workspaces bookable
  • Show the location of hand sanitisers, occupancy limits & flow of direction on interactive floor plans.
Make it easy to book a workspace for collaboration.
  • Clearly display team zones/neighbourhoods on an interactive floor plan
  • Enable filtering of available spaces according to teams/departments
  • Book workspaces for yourself & (named) team members at the same time
  • Find where a co-worker has already booked a workspace & book a desk nearby for yourself.
Offer additional resources to ‘ease’ their visit
  • Book a range of ‘supporting services’ that may be available, such as a parking slot, catering, visitor passes, an AV support technician, creche space, yoga class (!) etc, at the same time as scheduling your visit.

This is what facilities managers should be able to do:

For your Facilities Team Solution features (that make this possible)
Ensure social-distancing and/or address the fact that you have may significantly downsized your office space.  
  • Throttle how many people can come into the office at once
  • Automatically block any additional workspace bookings when you reach a pre-determined number for a given day
  • Get staff to book a ‘daily visit pass’ & limit the amount of passes you have
  • Create policies that allow you to avoid ‘peaks’ mid-week (& empty offices on a Monday & Friday).
Designate team areas
  • Earmark workspaces for different teams for different days of the week or as required
  • Prioritise bookings for that team until a pre-defined cut-off point (e.g., 24 hours in advance).
Understand workforce needs
  • Make office visits subject to approval by a line manager
  • Use questionnaires to determine the reason for a visit to understand trends.
Prevent resource hogging
  • Stop the same person booking the same workspace according to parameters you define.
Spread office attendance across the week
  • Create policies that allow you to avoid ‘peaks’ mid-week.
Share resources equally
  • Limit how long or how many times in a given timeframe an individual can book a limited resource – such as a video conferencing suite.
Maintain track & trace information
  • Enforce check-in on arrival to get an accurate view of who’s sat where
  • Generate reports to support track & trace activity in event of a reported COVID-19 infection.
Schedule between use cleaning
  • Automatically create cleaning schedules &/or send notifications to facilities staff on check-out or end of session
  • Only allow one use per day to allow for daily cleaning.
Keep visitors safe
  • Enforce registration of visitor contact details to support your COVID-19 response
  • Automatically send visitors safety information in advance of their arrival
  • Provide visitor information for your front desk & security staff.
Understand utilisation patterns 
  • Track workspace utilisation accurately
  • See what workspaces are popular, understand peak demand.
Easily revise COVID-19 measures in the event of change (e.g. in the winter months)
  • Make it easy to respond to change in Government advice with flexible policies that include the ability to:
    – Recalibrate auto-safe zoning (e.g., change from 1m back up to 2m)
    – Revise & enforce the number of people that can come into the office each day.

And this is where the business as a whole should benefit:

For the Business Solution features (that make this possible)
Help your workforce feel confident to return to the office & reinforce the measures you are taking to keep your workforce safe. 
  • Deliver an easy to use desk booking system that’s accessible from Outlook, web or mobile devices
  • Use selection filters & graphics that enable staff to quickly find the best workspace for their office visit
  • Inbuilt COVID-safe functionality such as auto-distancing & interactive maps with traffic flow indicators, hand sanitiser locations, etc.
Foster healthy group interaction
  • Make it easy for workers to book a group space.  E.g. enable an individual to make a booking of a multiple spaces on behalf of co-workers
  • Clearly indicate collaboration zones & team/departmental spaces & neighborhoods
  • Earmark & prioritise bookings for different groups on different days.
Reap the rewards of spontaneous new connections across your workforce  
  • Create rules to prevent individuals from booking the same desk repeatedly.
Attract & retain talent
  • Provide an agile workplace management system that will help your business demonstrate your values
  • Make it easy for staff to locate their nearest office space, find the best workspace & resources for their needs & feel immediately comfortable coming into an unfamiliar office.
Understand the views & needs of your workforce & adapt your office space accordingly.
  • Regularly poll your workforce to understand their plans on returning to the office & the kind of workspaces they need
  • Understand exactly how your workspace is being used: Are certain types of workspace favoured over others?  Are some workspaces being under-used?

See these capabilities & more in action:

Request a personalised product demo or
join our webinar which explores this area in more detail