As we start to adjust to new ways of working, businesses are beginning to rethink the use of their office space — introducing the role of a space planner into their organization.
Since the move to home working in 2020, there has been a seismic shift in how people work worldwide. Many employers are choosing to adopt a hybrid working policy in line with employee expectations.
But there’s one problem. Now that in-office time is focusing on collaborative working, businesses are finding their workspaces aren’t equipped correctly.
Enter: the role of a space planner. Space planning involves designing how occupants of an office will use the space. It’s a practice that aligns physical space with business needs to create a new workspace plan.
Let’s take a look at how this all works in a hybrid workplace and how space managers can adapt their roles to hybrid work.
The role of a space planner in the hybrid workplace
Hybrid working is still relatively new and untested for many businesses. There’s a lot to consider including who will be in the office and when and what equipment workers will need.
With 80% of employees reporting they are either similarly productive or more productive working from home, it makes sense to reduce office time where feasible.
Traditional office spaces are usually split cookie-cutter style between desks, conference rooms, and meeting spaces. This was easy to plan for when headcount was relatively linear throughout the working week.
With hybrid working, it’s more difficult to anticipate what spaces you’ll need when only a portion of the workforce is in the office at any one time.
A space planner’s role is to consider all variables and decide how best to use the space they have. And part of hybrid space planning also involves deciding if (or when) companies should downsize their real estate holdings.
In a hybrid workplace, space planners need to:
- Create an office environment that will make people want to come in.
- Create collaborative workspaces by reconfiguring existing spaces.
- Adapt meeting rooms to ensure they have the technology to facilitate hybrid and virtual meetings.
- If adopting a hot-desking (or better yet, a desk-hoteling) model, ensure the office has a variety of workstations that support different types of work personas.
- Ensure workers can easily see who’s in the office, when, and where they’re working if they are in the office. This gives them control over their working patterns.
Essential tools for a hybrid space planner
For a hybrid workplace to run effectively, there needs to be some way of tracking and managing how people use it. A hybrid space planner needs to know how many people are using the office and when, so they can answer specific questions, including:
- How many days are people coming into the office every week?
- Are all of the desks being used every day? If not, what’s the average usage?
- Are there desks people don’t like using?
- What kind of work are people doing when they’re in the office?
- How long do people stay?
- Where do people spend most of their time in the office?
Space planners can only start to formulate a new plan once these questions are answered. Thankfully, plenty of tools are available to help hybrid space planners with this process.
- Smart sensors – help track how many people use the office and when they come in. The sensors track motion and can be used in any space in the business to identify heavy traffic spaces and underutilized spaces. They help you identify busy times of the day, week, and month. Space planners can use this to map out what the ideal office should look like and build a floor plan that accommodates everyone’s needs.
- Usage analytics – It’s impossible to know how well something works without gathering data and statistics. For example, there’d be no way of knowing that 30% of meeting rooms go to waste due to no-shows without capturing that information. For hybrid space planners, gathering usage analytics is essential in assessing where the need is. Utilizing analytics software helps space planners understand how space gets used (and, equally, how it doesn’t). It gives actionable insights that can be used to increase productivity and optimize utilization.
- Desk and room booking software – Instead of using up space with unnecessary desks, having a system that allows people to book in advance means fewer desks are needed. Available workspaces can be booked on a “first come, first served” basis through with a desk hoteling system, and reserved desks can be released if and when the booking is a no-show. This gives people flexibility around what day they come into the office and means they can ensure a designated desk space in advance. It also allows businesses to accommodate those with particular needs. It also increases collaborative working by allowing groups or teams to book workstations near each other.
Smartway2’s workplace utilization software can help space planners in a hybrid world
Space planners need analytics to get the necessary information to build a productive hybrid office. And analytics are more powerful when they’re backed by smart workplace technology.
At Smartway2 our powerful desk booking, room booking, and space utilization tools identify how and when employees use the office. Using this information to shape the office’s design can help space planners create a hybrid workplace that benefits businesses and employees alike.
For more information on how Smartway2 can help your hybrid space planners, get in touch for a demo today.