Planning and managing office space: five practical tips for facility managers

by FM Media
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When the phrase ‘office planning’ is mentioned, most people imagine that it is simply a matter of accommodating everything and everyone on the premises. Yet, planning and managing an office involves much more than just finding a place to keep everything. 

Planning an office space, and then managing it, are both strategic actions that lay the groundwork for productivity and smooth operations in any organisation. 

Interestingly, these duties fall within the many responsibilities of a facility manager (FM). If you’re an FM and are wondering how to plan and manage your office space better, keep reading for five straightforward and practical tips that can help you to accomplish that.

  1. Assess your current situation

Measurement precedes any kind of improvement. It’s important to measure and understand the current position before you can hope to make positive and sustainable changes.

That said, when planning a workspace, it wouldn’t make sense to disrupt or change areas that already work perfectly well. FMs should start any space improvement project by determining what spaces are being under or overutilised first, before making changes. Without taking a step back to assess where you are and where you want to be, it’s hard to define the measurable goals to establish the desired outcome and improve the end result. 

For instance, by assessing your current office space usage, you may find that the meeting rooms are always in use. That’s useful information; however, you may need to dig deeper because that information doesn’t present the complete picture yet. What if further inquiries show that staff are actually using those meeting spaces for quick informal discussions away from their desks because there is no other suitable space? In that case, wouldn’t it be better and more cost-effective to designate a few informal sit-out areas for those ad hoc discussions?

In essence, taking a step back to measure and plan ensures that you’re not plunging into a workplace redesign project with no measurable goals or any idea whether your time and effort invested in this project will pay off or not.

  1. Adopt modern tools and solutions

There’s a lot that goes into planning and managing optimal office space. Yet, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to adopt the right tools from inception. In order to finish an office planning project with minimal inconvenience and errors, consider deploying a few key technological solutions, especially the following:

 

  • CAFM

Computer-aided facility management (CAFM) is a robust digital platform designed to enable its users to achieve the management of building-related logistical tasks seamlessly. CAFM empowers FMs to manage several key business activities simultaneously. These activities range from everyday tasks such as logistics planning to move management, desk space usage, conference room allocation and much more.

 

  • CMMS 

Once everything is planned in line with your requirements, you’ll need help with maintaining the space and all the physical assets that help to keep staff productive – from servicing the HVAC units to keeping the conveniences tidy and safe. That’s where a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) comes in. This software will serve as a centralised platform that enables you to track, monitor and manage every single maintenance-related task or activity.

 

  • Desk booking software

The option of allowing employees to work wherever they feel most productive has quickly become a workplace norm. Desk booking software is an excellent tool to facilitate this new way of working. Facility managers can tap into the capabilities of desk booking software to automate and streamline the allocation of spaces and desks in hybrid working arrangements. That way they’ll ensure that every worker’s needs are met.

 

The advent of the above solutions means that now, more than ever before, FMs have the best tools to quickly and efficiently plan and manage today’s office spaces optimally.

 

  1. Optimise IEQ

No matter how well-planned an office may be, poor indoor environmental quality (IEQ) will severely hamper everyone’s productivity. FMs can overcome this challenge by focusing on the major contributing factors that impact the indoor environment, especially:

 

  • Indoor temperature: this has a direct impact on staff comfort and productivity, with most people performing at their best at temperatures from 21 to 22 degrees Celsius. To help control indoor temperature better, facility managers can research solutions such as smart HVAC systems and install appropriate units according to their building’s requirements.

 

  • Lighting: neuroscientists have long made a strong connection between adequate lighting (especially natural light), and its effect on sleep and quality of life. FMs can try steps such as incorporating natural lighting (via windows and skylights) as much as possible in their office buildings, and using softer lighting that won’t cause glare or eyestrain for workers.

 

Other aspects of IEQ worth monitoring include indoor air quality and noise management.

 

  1. Engage the staff during the process

Studies from sources such as the Harvard Business Review have emphasised the need to involve employees in the office planning process. This makes sense, because workers spend most of their day in the office – so ensure to ask staff about their observations, inputs and what kinds of improvements they want to see around them. The information presented by these studies shows that employee performance and motivation improve when they can control their workspace layout, since involving them encourages a culture of autonomy.

 

  1. Monitor and reassess

No workplace configuration is ever permanent. 

As time passes, employee preferences change and new staff come on board, the layout and decisions made will usually change and evolve. Facility managers need to put a system in place to help them reassess the current situation, and cross-check that the workspace still meets workers’ needs and that there are no major deviations. A quarterly checklist or some other resource should assist with this.

In conclusion

Workplace planning and management can often seem tricky to execute, primarily because of the need to satisfactorily incorporate staff members’ individual needs. With the backing of a thorough plan, the right organisational support and the adequate alignment of tools and technology to optimise productivity, however, this can be achieved successfully – leaving workers satisfied, creative and more motivated.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organise, automate and streamline their maintenance operations.

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