Is your Workplace Optimized for your Business?
Many businesses and organizations own and/or lease buildings, in order to operate and provide goods and services to their customers. The buildings and the equipment collectively are the facilities – the physical spaces and assets that comprise the activities of the business. Facilities Management (FM) is a highly skilled profession that ensures the safe and efficient operation of the buildings while maintaining economic responsibility. In large and complex facilities the only way to manage the operation is with a Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) system – a software application which includes a database, a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) application such as AutoCAD and reporting features. This CAFM functionality is included with more comprehensive Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) applications, such as IBM TRIRIGA and iOFFICE.
Having accurate floor plans of the buildings in which the business operates is critical to achieving efficiencies. Every building constructed in the past 35 years was first designed by architects and engineers using CAD software. That means that the electronic drawings of your buildings do exist and may be obtained from the building’s architecture firm. In many cases, these original drawings will represent the ‘as-built’ configuration and not include any subsequent renovations or additions. One task of the Facility Manager is to ensure the CAD drawings are up to date. If there are in-house staff with the skills to modify CAD drawings that is ideal but you can also have that service out-sourced on an as-needed basis. The more accurate the representation of your workspaces, the better it can be utilized.
Space Utilization& Strategic Planning
Humans are visual creatures but not everyone can orient themselves without a map. Having a map allows one to plan their route ahead of time and to determine where they are relative to other landmarks or services. Having a map of your facilities, the drawings of the floor plans, is vital to planning and managing the locations of people and departmental allocations. If two functions of the business work better if they are adjacent on a floor, it can be determined ahead of time where these departments can be located for the most effective synergy. Certain parameters can be applied, such as space standards, to assist in the planning. An IWMS software application will have standard areas per employee role, for seating and equipment that can be used in space forecasting. Multiple future scenarios can be created for analysis. To evaluate the current space utilization, facility managers can place occupancy sensors to monitor how often a space is vacant, thus providing insights into re-purposing space.
To promote the most cost-effective use of space, facility managers may employ a chargeback mechanism to entice department managers to reduce the space they are using. By outlining the areas occupied on a floor plan, the square footage (or sq. meters) can be accurately calculated using the IWMS. These outlines are closed polygons, also called polylines, that are added in the CAD drawing. Common areas on a floor, such as meeting rooms and primary circulation, can be pro-rated or shared among the departments occupying that floor. Common building areas like a lobby or cafeteria can be pro-rated among the departments occupying the entire building. An IWMS makes these complex calculations effortless. Furthermore, graphical reports can be generated to illustrate exactly where departments are located, making it easier to negotiate terms.
Space Requests, Reservations and Wayfinding
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-2021 has changed the workplace environment, perhaps permanently. At some companies, employees returning to the office are now required to reserve space a head of their arrival, to ensure safe distancing and cleaning protocols. IWMS software such as IBM TRIRIGA and iOFFICE have self-reservation apps for mobile devices, so an employee can conveniently book a workstation while in-transit. When the reservation is accepted, a work order is created for a custodian to clean the workspace prior to the employee arrival. Physical distancing parameters can be entered into the system to ensure that people aren’t seated closer than, say, 10 feet. The IWMS automatically determines the floor capacity based upon the distance specified. With the new paradigm of workplace occupancy scenarios, locating an employee can be a challenge, if they are not assigned a permanent desk or office. A simple query of the IWMS will highlight the employee’s reserved space on the floor plan and guide you to the location. This is especially helpful for visitors unfamiliar with the building.
Employees can also use their mobile devices to request a move for themselves and their assigned assets using the IWMS. The application will have a record of available spaces with role-based attributes to ensure that a person can request from only certain spaces. This prevents a person from requesting a move to an executive office, for example.