The talk of the town is hybrid working. More specifically, how it will play out business by business. Employers acknowledge that hybrid working is here to stay but are grappling with how to make this work in practice.
With hybrid working comes the opportunity to reassess the employee office experience – while also looking after staff and culture.
Practical considerations of this include ‘how do we manage hot desks?’, ‘how can we make better use of office space?’, ‘are people coming in as much as we want?’ and even ‘how much office space do we really need?’ - all, of course, viewed with a lens of encouraging staff to be healthy and safe in the office.
Let’s look at these considerations in depth.
(If you are are looking for practical resources to help with moving to hybrid working, take a look at our free checklists.)
Tracking presence in the office to understand usage and compliance
Tracking attendance in the office can help you understand if your hybrid working policy is working in practice. i.e. are people really coming in as often as you wish? It can also help you see what your office space utilisation is.
One way to gauge attendance in the office is to use a check-in solution like EVA and encourage staff to check-in when they arrive. An alternative is to use swipe card details from the building access system.
Compliance when using a check-in solution approach can be low as people might forget to check in and out. A couple of ways around that are to use a solution like EVA Check-in, that has geofencing to automatically check people in and out, and/or to offer an incentive - like monthly prize draw for people that have checked in. With check-in systems, dashboards allow you to review capacity at any point in time and over longer periods allowing for full utilisation reviews.
Card systems are a good option too although frequently this data is only accessible to security personnel and may not be suitable for easy reporting. It’s also hard to cut out the noise from duplicate entries as people may swipe in/out through many doors in a day.
Managing site safety when management is remote
If your management team is working remotely and there is an emergency on site or in the vicinity, how will you know who is affected and how will you communicate with them?
This is where having staff check-in really becomes valuable– especially if you can message them to provide instructions or check they are OK. With a system like EVA that has a built-in notification system, you can even set up pre-scripted messages to use in the case of an emergency – so you don’t need to craft these on the fly. This capability can be accessed by admin staff from anywhere – they don’t need to be onsite with the rest of the staff.
Signing-in visitors and contractors
With the adoption of hybrid working there may be a change in how your customers and suppliers interact with your people. If your customers and suppliers are happy to continue with online rather than in-person meetings, you’ll be noticing a dramatic reduction in foot traffic in your reception areas.
This is where unattended check-in software is handy. With EVA you can provide an attended or unattended visitor check-in experience. Either way host notifications via email, SMS, or Teams, will let your staff know they have someone waiting for them.
Helping your people book hot desks
There are a few common ways to organise the office that facilitate desk usage. Using a pod or neighbourhood set up is probably most common. Most likely there will still be people that are predominately working the office. For these people, allocated desks within a pod will remain their preferred approach – although some businesses will insist that all staff hot desk.
When it comes to the admin for hot desking, a booking system and office seating maps or plans are the key items. Though nice to look at, maps can be a pain to create and keep up to date. We suggest text descriptions and sticking to high-level maps – getting too detailed can be an unnecessary overhead.
Pros and cons of different hot desk booking approaches
Pod or zone or neighbourhood hot desk booking:
o How it works: Set up an area of hot desks– say 10+ in a pod. People then book a spot in the pod. These are sometimes called neighbourhoods. People get allocated a place in the pod rather than a specific desk (they just grab any available in the pod when they arrive)
o Pros: People in the same team or doing the same type of work know they can book into a day and an area where their collaborators will be. You may not need to create detailed desk maps and can just use labelling and descriptions to guide people to the area. You get flexibility to add desks to the pod or remove if you need to permanently allocate them.
o Cons: Depending how complex your set up is you might need to create maps. If you need to know precisely which desk a person is at, allocating them to a pod rather than a desk might not be ideal.
o How it works: All desks are named/numbered and staff choose a specific desk or are automatically allocated a desk based on their location and time. Staff know the specific desk they are allocated
o Pros: Better for knowing the specific desk someone is at. Works well for desks that may be available for only part of the day. Can be handled with normal calendar system like Outlook. Can also be preferable for people who are immune compromised as they can sit at the same desk each time.
o Cons: Lots of set up if you have many desks and are trying to use a calendar system. The booking experience for employees may be cumbersome – lots of individual bookable desks to scroll through.
If you take the neighbourhood/pod approach, a system like EVA Check-in can help you manage this. EVA lets you quickly set up pods or neighbourhoods for any number of desks. Capacity can vary by date too with exceptions or shifting capacity. The EVA booking portal for both the administrator and employee is easy-to-use – and with the ability to send out reminders to employees about their booking, you can support the return to work with any messaging you like.
If you are allocating specific desks, then you can either use a system like EVA or a calendar system like Outlook to manage the desks. There is a lot more set up involved using Outlook in this approach.
Other things to consider – Do people need to check-in when they arrive, so you know the desk is actually occupied? Do you need to be able to report on usage over time? Or real time usage to manage capacity?
Making better use of available car parks
Car parking in city offices is a precious resource mainly limited to a few executives. With hybrid working car parks are often not fully used and can sit empty for full or part days.
By making car parks a bookable resource you can offer them to your wider team – and let them act as a further incentive to get back to the office. For staff use, consider a system that doesn’t require additional hardware and provides a simple portal to book, amend or cancel bookings. EVA lets you do this. Optionally link the car park booking to the check-in process – so you know that when a staff member arrives the parking slot is now filled.
Businesses across the world are rethinking the office-focused software needed to deliver this different way of working. Ideally, a software solution will help you understand behaviour and make existing offices work more efficiently – both for the people who want to work safely in these spaces and for the employer who is looking to manage their business better.