The future of hybrid work


Max Shepherd-Cross


December 22, 2021

If you’re still updating employee attendance manually, trying to book conference rooms through Google Calendar, or allocate desks in color-coded spreadsheets, you’ve likely wondered: There’s got to be a better way.

The good news? Workplace management software can take you from spreadsheet pandemonium to scheduling paradise.

Workspace management software lets you manage the nitty-gritties of office space scheduling and usage in a simple, purpose-built platform. The best workspace management software fits easily into employees’ day-to-day workflow and helps managers track attendance, desks, and other amenities with a few clicks.

Read on to find what to look for and what to avoid while choosing the right workspace management software platform for your business.

What is Workspace Management Software and How Does it Help?

Workspace management software lets employees log office attendance and book desks or spaces like conference rooms in advance. It also allows managers to track usage of office space, amenities, and supplies. Proactive management prevents over-allocation or underutilization of desks, spaces, and other office facilities.

Also known as hoteling software, desk booking tool, and hot desking software, workspace management software is most helpful to track employee attendance and office usage for companies with rotating usage of facilities. These include businesses with:

  • A hybrid working policy, where employees come into office as needed
  • A distributed workforce that works out of multiple coworking hubs assigned by the company  

Before you start looking at prospective workspace management software platforms, though, it’s worth considering these eight important factors about your business and the capabilities of the platforms you’re considering.

1. Consider The Size of Your Team

The software you choose should accommodate your workforce and your future growth plans. Managing attendance and office usage for a workforce of 500+ employees is more complex than managing a small team of ten.

If you manage a large team, you'll need software where you can create different teams and departments, assign different managers to each team, and track usage of various office amenities and spaces.

On the other hand, if you manage a small to medium-sized business, simpler software will suffice for tracking usage of a limited number of spaces, desks, and amenities.

2. Determine How Many Locations You Manage

If you manage offices in multiple locations locally or globally, look for software with the ability to add offices in different locations, sign up all employees on a single platform, and track all activity in one place. Tracking activity in one dashboard helps you compare usage across locations.

The ability to track multiple locations is also helpful if your employees are distributed nationally or globally, and work out of multiple coworking spaces sponsored by the company.

3. Look for the Ability to Log Attendance in Advance

Employees should be able to log attendance or book in-office time in advance. That lets you track how often employees come to office and better plan work activities.

The ability to advance book time into office is especially helpful for teams with hybrid and flexible work policies, as it takes away some of the uncertainty that comes with varied employee schedules. Managers can plan meetings and events on days when most employees are expected to be in the office, schedule cleaning days accordingly, and stock up on supplies like food and coffee.

If employees expect to come to the office on a fixed schedule, look for software that lets them automatically book time into office for a given period, to save time.

4. Assess Your Needs Around Booking Desks, Collaboration Spaces, and Other Amenities

Giving employees and managers the ability to book office facilities and spaces in advance helps you avoid shortages or underutilization of office resources like individual desks and spaces like quiet areas, meeting rooms, conference rooms, or phone rooms.

Typically, workspace management software lets you divide desks into different neighborhoods like “standing desks” or “quiet spaces”, or into random variables like colors. Employees can choose where they want to spend their time while booking time into office.

Here's an example of desk booking:

Desk booking in Officely
Desk booking software

Bonus points if the software also shows employees who else is coming to office on a given day and where they’re sitting, so they can book a desk in the same neighborhood if they wish to collaborate.

If you offer amenities like yoga sessions or limited parking spaces, employees should also be able to book these in advance to avoid overallocation. For example:

Hybrid office management software
Workspace management tool

5. Think About How You’ll Send Health Surveys

Health surveys are an important tool to gauge employee fitness and susceptibility to viruses like Covid-19. Health surveys typically ask employees if they’ve recently had fever, cough, and other Covid-19 symptoms, their recent travel history, who they’ve been in contact with, and if they’ve recently recovered from the virus.

The software you choose should allow you to send health surveys to employees periodically to check whether they’re showing symptoms of Covid-19 or if they’ve been in contact with an infected person.

Here’s a sample health survey in Officely:

Covid health surveys for employees
Officely Covid health survey

6. Consider The Availability of Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is useful for determining who an employee has been in direct contact with over a given period. Contact tracing is helpful to track at-risk employees if someone from your office tests positive for Covid-19, as the disease spreads through close contact with an infected person.

Since workspace management software tracks employee attendance, it can easily provide information about who an employee interacted with over a period of time, preventing an outbreak of Covid-19 in your office.

7. Check for Availability of Office Usage Analytics

Office usage analytics help you gauge how your office spaces are being used, so you can either repurpose unused space or build new spaces to meet demand.

Your workspace management software should provide basic insights like space utilization by day, week, and month, average usage of different spaces like conference rooms and phone rooms, and days with maximum and least occupancy.  

Based on office usage data, you can adopt policies like hot desking or hybrid work, or even repurpose unused workstations to build more casual-style seating or recreation areas.

8. Test Each Platform for Ease of Setup and Use

Your employees are unlikely to use software that’s cumbersome or has a steep learning curve. Poor adoption means you won’t have enough data to optimize use of office space, and worse, employees might face shortages of resources like desks if too many people check in without prior bookings.  

As you trial new software or sit down for a demo, pay attention to:

  • Ease of set-up: How long does it take to get employees signed up and running on the platform? The simpler the set-up, the easier the platform will be for employees to begin using.
  • Learning curve: Do employees need to watch lengthy tutorials to learn how to book desks or spaces? Make sure important tasks require little handholding to maximize adoption.  
  • Ease of use: Do employees need to complete several steps to make bookings or log attendance? If so, employees might eventually stop using the app. On the other hand, an app like Officely that integrates with Slack and is simple to use can easily become a part of employees’ daily workflow.

Workspace Management Software is An Efficient Solution to Wasted Office Space

Evidence for wasted office space abounds globally. One 2018 study found businesses in England and Wales waste 10 billion euros a year on unused office space. Global respondents in another 2019 study revealed they used only 63% of their office space.

The only way you can avoid wasted office space is to first understand how your office space and resources are being used. You may be using spreadsheets for this purpose, but as you’ve experienced, spreadsheets are neither built to track office usage and attendance, nor provide you with the right insights to avoid wastage of space.  

Invest in a good workspace management solution like Officely to minimize wasted office space more efficiently. Watch a 2-minute demo of how Officely works.

Max Shepherd-Cross

Max is one of the cofounders and CEO of Officely.

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