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New report shows a cross-functional approach is needed for FM

Global worktech company, Eptura has published the second edition of its quarterly Workplace Index which reveals employees rank socialisation and collaboration as the top motivator to work from the office. 

The index analyses building use, asset data, and behavioural insights to provide a comprehensive view of the rapidly changing modern workplace. Key findings show a consistent yearly rise in workspace bookings and visitors across all regions and industry sectors alongside a 20 per cent increase in maintenance work orders from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023.

Along with proprietary data including an analysis of 2.7 million desks, 37,000 buildings, and 440,000 floors across more than 8,000 companies, the Q2 index includes findings from a survey of 6,700 employees on workplace attitudes and behaviours. Additionally, the survey included senior managers, middle managers, and individual contributors at businesses with at least 1,000 employees or more. Respondents came from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Australia.

The report builds on insights from the Q1 Workplace Index across the competing priorities organisations are navigating in today’s workplaces and takes an in-depth look at the balance between employee freedom and the desire for connection. Findings reveal that the key driver for employees wanting to go into the office is the need for socialisation and collaboration, acknowledging the desire to be part of a community and the isolation of working at home.

Brandon Holden, CEO of Eptura said: “Facility and asset managers continue to face significant challenges to identify the right workspace mix for employee needs while keeping their real estate and building systems running efficient. We hear this from our customers worldwide, particularly as employee behaviour continues to reinforce the need for flexibility. For organisations to make better investment decisions on their building assets, they must look beyond siloed data sources. Our quarterly Workplace Index analyses operational data and qualitative feedback to uncover the macro trends that help inform long-range business planning.” 

Key findings:

Connection leads the motivation for movement 

Employees recognise the need for balance, acknowledging the isolation of working remotely and the need for social interaction. Asia-Pacific (83 per cent), Europe, the Middle East and Africa (70 per cent), and the Americas (84 per cent) all saw significant year-over-year increases in desk bookings in Q2 2023.

According to the survey, senior managers and middle managers both rank collaborating with colleagues highest when asked what they appreciate most about going to the office. While socialising with friends and colleagues does not feature in senior managers’ top three motivations, it is the second-most important factor for middle managers. Individual contributors clearly crave connection, ranking socialising with friends and colleagues as their number one priority.

When asked where they like to work when in the office, 47 per cent of survey respondents say they like to be near their team. This highlights that physical proximity to colleagues has a value beyond what employees feel they can achieve virtually. Matching this trend, meeting room bookings continued to increase steadily across regions and industries, pointing to an increased desire for connection and collaboration in the workplace. Year over year, APAC room bookings increased by 67 per cent in Q2, EMEA increased by 57 per cent, and the Americas increased by 48 per cent.

Employee flexibility leads to workspace uncertainty 

Workforces want full autonomy in choosing when they go into the office and the type of work they do there. While this fluidity is broadly welcomed by many companies, it affects the facility management and corporate real estate teams who must plan around erratic demand for workspaces and variable occupancy rates.

The report found that roughly a third of employees (33 per cent in the Americas, 34 per cent in APAC, and 31 per cent in EMEA) book desks the day before or on the day they go into the office, resulting in much more complex planning for facility managers. This highlights the need for organisations to marry their employees’ desired workstyles and the need for predictability to paint a clearer picture of how a rising in-office population uses the modern workplace.

Cross-functional approach needed for facility management 

Many companies are stuck at a crossroads – how can they optimise business premises to attract employees and visitors while simultaneously lessening burdens on the bottom line? While the report shows that monthly equipment inspections are rising month-over-month corresponding to more people being at the workplace, daily maintenance work orders closed tend to peak at the start of the week, with daily inspections peaking in the middle of the week.

To meet increased cost pressures, organisations must move away from siloed responsibilities to a cross-functional approach. Facility and asset managers, who traditionally work behind the scenes, need to work closely with front-of-house leaders to combine data analysis and decision-making. This will help companies efficiently manage assets and real estate portfolios to match demand while ensuring a cost-effective work experience that attracts employees to the office.

Flexible work patterns lead to flexible footprints  

Business leaders are under immense pressure to reduce their CO2 emissions, especially with buildings accounting for 39 per cent of global carbon emissions. However, leveraging flexible work patterns to optimise building systems — such as turning off lighting, heating, and cooling in targeted areas when not in use — offers less expensive ways for businesses to cut their carbon footprint.

By focusing on preventive rather than corrective maintenance, companies can make gains that can result in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. While the ideal ratio of preventive to corrective maintenance is roughly 4:1, Eptura Q2 data shows a ratio of 4:7, meaning that for every four work orders planned, maintenance is responding to more than seven break-fix or other ad hoc ticket requests. By shifting the balance of maintenance activities from unscheduled to scheduled, organisations can optimise work based on building occupancy to meet sustainability goals.

To download the full Workplace Index Report by Eptura, click here.

About Sarah OBeirne

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