A recent Condeco study suggests most business leaders see the value of agile working practices. How can CAFM systems support new flexible environments, including coworking and serviced office spaces?
TECHNICAL SALES MANAGER, FSI
Most people are now fully aware of how modern attitudes to working have changed. The traditional default of working at desks from nine to five has shifted to an approach that prioritises flexible, agile working.
Among the growing agile working trends, one notably gaining steam is coworking, where employees from various companies share the same office space to perform their duties. The number of these spaces has exploded in recent years: in 2015, there were 8,900 coworking spaces supporting 545,000 workers globally. By 2020, this is predicted to have risen to 26,300 and 2,680,000 respectively.
Coworking supports a company and its employees’ abilities to work efficiently, productively and contentedly in several ways:
- It reduces operating costs (renting or mortgaging workspaces is the second biggest expense for many companies after payroll)
- With most coworking spaces based in city centres, it presents a convenient and accessible option for team members
- It encourages conversation and collaboration between companies in a range of industries, leading to different perspectives and stronger networking ties
- It enables employees to work how and where they want, boosting their happiness and productivity levels.
As coworking is quickly becoming a fixture in the evolution of flexible working practices, it is essential that facilities managers, owner-operators and others are in a position to adapt to this shift and to support the buildings and staff they’re responsible for.
Inevitably, the rapid rise of coworking spaces and approaches has presented new challenges to FMs that they must be prepared to overcome:
- Trying to keep people from varied organisations happy
- Creating a sociable, pleasant atmosphere for all users
- Keeping facilities regularly maintained for different users
- Supporting the technological demands of all workers.
CAFM plays an essential role in meeting the needs of FMs in properly maintaining and organising these locations, and presenting the most productive, beneficial working environment for everyone utilising them.
An immediate benefit of CAFM software is in clearly visualising the space available through an intuitive floor layout interface. This enables FMs to effectively organise desk use in the building, ensuring all available space is optimised and any maintenance work can be prepared in advance.
Furthermore, powerful room booking and meeting reservation applications support the effective administration of the building. These apps allow users to reserve areas independently, informing FMs of what areas need to be prepared in advance, all through an easy-to-use app.
Another benefit CAFM offers coworking is how it enhances the way users engage with their FM teams and each other. The range of social engagement apps available on these systems helps to ensure the sociable atmosphere required to maximise the effectiveness of these spaces, and that any facility-based issues affecting users’ productivity or comfort are rapidly flagged, logged, prioritised and handled.
FSI’s social application ChatLog, for example, enables users to immediately highlight problems with the facilities utilising predefined questions, giving FM teams clear information on the issue, the volume of people affected and the level of priority it should take.
Fundamentally, as the number of coworking locations continues to rise, FMs need to consider tools that help them to effectively maintain these facilities to the required standard, as well as cutting-edge apps developed to create the positive, productive and collaborative atmosphere that these locations are expected to provide.
FM has transitioned from a reactive service to a strategic, forward-thinking discipline. It is the backbone of an agile working environment, providing the communication and insight to keep office spaces operating efficiently, for a happy and productive workforce.
At a fundamental level, CAFM allows facilities teams to manage resources effectively. Work is completed more quickly and the probability of equipment breakdown is reduced, thus creating a more productive environment. Used more widely, CAFM can keep the whole workforce running smoothly through space management and automation capabilities.
Space management functionality within CAFM is invaluable in maximising the potential of a shared environment. Detailed floorplans not only show the locations of desks and resources for hot desking, but can also be tagged and colour-coded to help keep track of contracts and occupancy for charge backs and reporting. Software can be used to identify underused space by testing various layout scenarios right down to desk level in order to create the best possible working environments.
Hot desking is known to require less space than a traditional static office layout, but it also provides opportunities for employees. Office users can easily book a desk based on its location or proximity to other resources or teams to minimise time wasted looking for a seat or a printer, for example. Working at different desks also provides the opportunity to interact with other members of the organisation, stimulating new ideas and communication for a truly agile business.
Multiple contracts can easily be managed within the same platform, so service providers or building owners can manage different tenants without confusing or accidentally sharing information with the wrong parties. For example, reports can be produced for the whole building or for one area, and the tenants using the CAFM system to book space will only be able to see availability within their own area.
The same is true of self-service; tenants can request services, report faults or book rooms or desks within their area quickly and easily, as the system only shows information relevant to them. Ultimately this means people are more likely to use the CAFM application, keeping it updated and ensuring the continued smooth running of the working environment.
Self-service check-in has an important place in an agile workplace, improving the flow of people and information throughout the building. CAFM can take care of the whole process, from capturing sign-in and taking a photograph through to printing a name badge. A custom notification is then sent to the host to advise of their guest’s arrival.
A recent development that enhances the functionality of CAFM systems is 3D building information modelling (BIM), which is becoming ingrained within organisations, and complementary technology is working to make it more accessible to facilities professionals. For example, using a smartphone to scan a QR code associated with a property allows users to experience a virtual tour of the inside of a building. They can ‘walk’ around the room, through doors and look in any direction as if they are physically there.
Virtual reality BIM provides significant benefits for property owners who can use it to show their facility to potential tenants. It can be used by FM teams to view a remote site in detail so they can work more efficiently on arrival, knowing where to go, what to expect and have a clear understanding of any access requirements to reach the asset or job in question. Work is completed quickly, leading to a better, more productive environment for all building users.
In summary, the ongoing evolution of CAFM systems made possible by new technologies such as BIM and VR capability continues to facilitate effective agile working in coworking and serviced office spaces.