In the post-pandemic workspace, employees are demanding a hybrid work experience. Many organizations are currently evaluating their "return to work" priorities and visions—deciding whether to bring employees back into the office, how to maintain safety measures, what kind of real estate they should be invested in. A year of fully remote work due to COVID-19 has changed employees' perspectives on what work looks like. The "future of work" is now, and it's important for organizations to support a hybrid workplace.
The Hybrid Workplace: A Post-Pandemic Phenomenon
What is a hybrid workplace? A hybrid workplace is a workplace model that emphasizes flexibility and supports a workforce that is both in-office and remote.
Recent studies have shown that 55% of employees prefer to work remote at least three days per week once the pandemic recedes. This is forcing many companies to rethink what the "office" looks like. Companies like Google are experimenting with a fully hybrid model, including on-demand work pods, remote-friendly TV displays, outdoor collaboration spaces and pop-up privacy walls. These measures are now setting the standard for how organizations bring their workforces back to the office and continue to support their remote employees.
Room Booking Solutions: Benefits for Today’s Workplace
Maintaining a hybrid work model cannot be done without the right tools, however. Room booking solutions offer a comprehensive way to manage employees' time, both in the office and remotely. A robust room booking solution:
- Makes it easy for your organization to establish desk, meeting room and collaboration areas
- Enables you to set and enforce policies for reserving space
- Allows your employees to manage their workspaces and exercise privacy when needed
- Supports video conferencing – especially important as large portions of the workforce stay at home
- Ensures you follow health and safety guidelines through safe distancing, room capacity and other practices
- Helps people navigate with wayfinding support
- Improves space utilization by giving data-backed visibility into actual space usage
Enabling Hybrid Work with Room Booking Solutions
Room booking software enables your employees to work in a hybrid model by offering:
- On-the-fly, touchless booking options.
- Desk and office hoteling functionality.
- Collaboration space booking.
- Control over safety and sanitization methods.
- Video conferencing integrations.
- Space utilization metrics.
On-The-Fly, Touchless Booking Options
In a future where employees are only in the office a few days a week, they will still need to book meeting rooms and private work areas, like huddle rooms. A room booking solution offers a way for employees to not only schedule spaces for collaborative work like meetings, but also private spaces and the ability to socially distance themselves from other employees. Additionally, with the utilization of QR codes and digital signage around the office, users can quickly scan and book rooms all from their mobile device or a tablet, providing a more flexible experience. Using tablets or kiosk displays outside meeting rooms allows for quick space booking or one-touch information viewing, providing a more connected, flexible experience for your employees.
Desk & Office Hoteling
Reconfiguring offices post-pandemic can be a costly and time intensive endeavor—but your employees don't want to return to the standard open floor plan office with assigned seating and desks. Office and desk hoteling through a room and desk booking software solution is a technology approach to office reconfiguration that provides fast implementation, anytime access to work areas, and granular control of access and availability. With desk hoteling, office managers can implement safe and "no use" spaces to maintain social distancing policies, desk groupings for teams or departments, and better track who sat where in case of a contract tracing incident when an employee gets sick.
While employees are looking for privacy and flexibility in their return to work, they still need to be able to collaborate with team members in a controlled, safe setting. Room booking solutions provide the space and resource scheduling needed to provide these areas. Google is taking collaboration spaces to the next level for their hybrid workforce, completely redesigning some of their offices to have fully functional outdoor collaboration areas in fresh air. While the average enterprise may not be able to accommodate an entire outdoor space, a room booking solution allows you to establish collaboration spaces that can be booked for in-person or hybrid (remote and in-person attendees) use.
Safety & Sanitization
A poll from Eagle Hill Consulting showed that 54% of U.S. employees are worried about exposure to COVID-19 at their job. The safety measures that have evolved from COVID-19 have become the standard for employers. Social distancing, masks, de-densifying office spaces, and sanitization efforts are all critical for reopening office spaces. With a room booking solution, organizations can schedule cleaning services and ventilation efforts per room to support employee safety. A comprehensive room booking solution allows facilities managers to book cleanings after spaces have been used and can allow employees to scan QR codes or send work orders for rooms to be sanitized after use or if they notice issues. Ventilation is also a big issue that employers need to be aware of for the return to office. The CDC has recommended businesses approach safety in regard to COVID-19 through improvements to building ventilation to reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of exposure. A room and resource booking solution can integrate with IoT monitoring to trigger HVAC usage, and monitor proper ventilation.
Video Conferencing Integrations
We've established that the return to work is hybrid—this means that we can still expect to see a significant portion of the workforce working remotely, even while some return to the physical office. In order to maintain collaboration and efficiency, offices will need to be fully integrated for video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These integrations within a room booking solution are critical for providing streamlined communications between teams, facilitating successful meetings and supporting distributed teams.
Real estate costs have become a major concern for employers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many organizations had empty offices for over a year, and some have downsized or reconfigured their spaces. When preparing for the return to work, it is critical for organizations to have insight into their space utilization to measure:
- How their spaces are being used
- Which spaces are being used the most often
- Which areas of the office are most trafficked
- How employees are spread out in their space
- How often scheduling software is being used
A room booking solution will be able to track and offer these insights, which will help organizations determine if their space is being underutilized, allowing them to cut costs and find real estate savings. Making changes to your office space, like supporting more integrated technology, reducing high contact activity spaces, and considering downsizing based on employee attendance can support increased organizational efficiency and reduce real estate-associated risk.
Finding a Room Booking Solution for Your Return to Work
Prepare for a hybrid workplace before your employees return to the office. Accruent's EMS room and resource scheduling solution provides a highly configurable, robust platform that allows for frictionless space booking, integrated video conferencing, and seamless sanitization and safety protocols. Watch a demo of EMS today and contact our team to see how we can support your return to work.