Workplace macro trends facing facility managers

Seeing who else will be in the office has become essential knowledge, new data reveals
Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The tension between employees’ desire to work fluidly and the need for predictability within a business is a key factor affecting the workplace. As companies put forth policies for in-office attendance, facility managers are at the forefront, having to plan around changing occupancy rates and the erratic demands of buildings. New global research on the future of work seeks to inform FMs about macro trends for long-term planning purposes.

In its Q2 Workplace Index report, global worktech company Eptura used proprietary data and an analysis of 2.7 million desks, 37,000 buildings, and 440,000 floors across more than 8,000 companies. ​​A survey of 6,700 employees on workplace attitudes and behaviours takes an in-depth look at the freedom of desired work styles versus the need for human connection with other employees.

Physical proximity to colleagues figures highly according to the data. Knowing who else will be in the office has become as essential as knowing what workspaces are available. Employees have been requesting features that allow them to see if their colleagues will be present.

The inaugural Q1 Workplace Index report shows that all regions, including Canada, saw significant increases in desk booking over the last year, which has been rising over every day of the week and particularly in larger cities.

For Q2, 84 per cent of respondents in the Americas saw year-over-year increases in desk bookings. Alongside this recent data, are key drivers behind the booking. Employees want to go into the office—primarily for socialization and collaboration, to be part of a community away from the isolation of home, and this is creating friction.

“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 efficiently,” said Brandon Holden, CEO of Eptura.

Senior managers and middle managers both rank collaborating with colleagues highest when asked what they appreciate most about going to the office. While socializing 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 socializing 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. The report found that roughly a third of employees in the Americas book desks the day before or on the day they go into the office, resulting in much more complex planning for facility managers.

How to optimize the office to attract employees and visitors while lessening burdens on the bottom line is a dilemma facing many companies.

Monthly equipment inspections are rising every month with more people being at the workplace, while daily maintenance work orders tend to peak at the start of the week, with daily inspections peaking in the middle of the week.

“To meet increased cost pressures, organizations must move away from siloed responsibilities to a cross-functional approach,” the report concludes. “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.”

The full Workplace Index Report can be accessed here.


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