Why Workplace Flexibility Works

Back in the mid-to-late 2010s, employers interpreted things a little differently. Take the kegerator, for example. Back then, a growing number of big companies — Twitter, Yelp, DropBox, just to name a few — started stocking beer and wine in their office fridges, offering craft beer on tap for visitors and employees, and celebrating with "Whiskey Fridays".

But in today's era, offering this perk wouldn't necessarily land. So you have a keg in the office. So what? So do your competitors.

It seems all-too obvious, but it can't be said enough: Employees want workplace flexibility. I repeat: Employees want workplace flexibility.

What does workplace flexibility really look like?

When it comes to what flexibility means, there's an element of misinterpretation involved.

The parable of the office kegerator

Back to the kegerator example: If employees truly wanted a keg in the office — that’s not to say they are unhappy about the option or would waste the chance to put it to good use — the solution would be simple enough. Everyone gets a kegerator. Problem solved.

Except merely possessing the office keg doesn’t do much towards your hiring and retention goals. Let’s face it, there isn’t exactly a shortage of places to find a drink. They can go to a bar, go home, or forego the drink altogether. Plenty of options, most of which are more aligned with the type of workplace flexibility they're actually after.

What attracted people wasn’t the kegerator. In fact, it wasn’t ever about the keg at all. It was about offering something that was in touch with their ideal talent pool’s interests, something appealing because it was uncommon and set the culture apart from the rest.

It won people over because it gave people real benefits:

  • A way for colleagues to build connections
  • A chance to stay in the office for a purpose that didn’t feel forced
  • The opportunity for conversations that went beyond dashboards, metrics, and profit
  • Sharing experiences with people they spent all day long working with, and yet sometimes hardly seemed to know

People weren’t sold on the kegerator. They were drawn in by its relevance. Something told them they’d really get something special by working here. They’d be able to contribute here. They saw a glimpse of hope that work could be better here. Somewhere they fit in. Somewhere they enjoyed being.

Why people are drawn in by the office experience

According to Gensler, the top reason to come to the office — across all industries and generations — has stayed consistent throughout the course of the pandemic: to “collaborate with my team”.

And in an article with Wired, CEO of Leesman Tim Oldman is quoted as saying: "Out of all the slicing and dicing we could do across 250,000 employees, there’s one single biggest motivator for employees to return to the workplace….it’s the quality of the experience that they have when they get to the corporate work setting. If they like the office, they want to be there four days a week, if they don't, it's one day at most."

“If they like the office, they want to be there four days a week, if they don’t, it’s one day at most.”

- Tim Oldman, CEO at Leesman

Which would you choose?

Seven years ago, the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study found that 75% of employees ranked workplace flexibility as their top benefit. So you can only imagine how much of an impact the subsequent years — particularly those spent working from home — have had on this trend.

Let's put you on the spot for a minute. Say you've been given two job offers. Both companies offer equal pay and provide the same benefits. But there's an important difference when it comes to when and where you work. One asks you to spend the majority of your time in the office — the majority of your workweek; Monday through Friday; 9-5.

The other, seemingly more aware of the current climate, offers you more workplace flexibility. Not only will they allow you to arrive and leave the office on a more fluid schedule and work from home 2+ days a week, they're also a lot less interested in micromanaging your schedule. They want to support you and enable you — and trust your own ability to manage and meet your deadlines.

So, which do you choose?

If you’re like a lot of people in today’s job market, it's an easy choice. You want to work for a company that gives you the flexibility to work in whatever way you’re most productive and efficient, not one that makes you sit at the same desk every day for the same arbitrary 8-hour time frame.

"Work-life balance"

One key driver is "work-life balance". Sometimes life throws a curveball that doesn’t fit in with a traditional 9-5 work schedule. Good employees want to be able to dedicate themselves to their job, their families and their health. They want a balanced work and personal life.

Employees also want to be trusted. If employees are going to trust their employer, their employer has to trust them. And that includes trusting them to get their work tasks done, whether it’s by putting in a couple of 10 hour workdays, or by working 5 hours on a Friday and working the rest of the day from home.

Organizational trust substantially affects recruitment and retention numbers, especially when expressed as a policy that allows for a flexible workplace. Retaining talent was one of the top employer benefits by respondents from the Workplace Flexibility Study (65%), and according to a McKinsey & Company study, it’s more likely for a millennial to accept your job offer if your company offers flexible work schedules. Better attraction and retention of talented employees results in less turnover and training costs.

Flexibility can also lead to better employee engagement and productivity. When employees can balance work demands with their personal life demands through workplace flexibility, they report reduced stress and negative spillover as well as being more productive and engaged.

Employees with a work-life balance – having sufficient time to devote to work, their families and their health – are mentally and physically healthier. A University of Minnesota study showed that employees who were given flexible work schedules slept better and took better care of themselves.

3 ways to offer workplace flexibility in 2022

Convinced that a flexible workplace is the way to go, or at least ready to start taking steps in that direction? Here are three areas to consider.

1. Make it easy to reserve meeting rooms with the right tech.

When your employees’ hours are flexible, your meeting rooms need to be as well.

A flexible workforce isn’t going to have meetings at the same time or even the same day every week. Your different internal teams are going to meet when there’s a need – planned or not – or when all team members are in the office at the same time.

So you need to have enough available, bookable meeting space to make every spur-of-the-moment meeting possible. You also need the right conference room scheduling system so employees can quickly and easily find and book available rooms and times from phones or tablets.

When employees are not all in the office at the same time, effective meetings require the latest communication tools and technology, to keep everyone on the same page about deliverables, deadlines and schedules.

2. Provide a dynamic, adaptable workspace.

Some employees work better alone in a quiet cubicle, while others’ creativity thrives on frequent interaction and collaboration. Some companies find that a fluid workspace works well with a culture of flexibility.

Consider activity based working, for example, where are no set workstations. Instead, companies offer a variety of workstations with adjustable desks, common areas with couches and comfy chairs and long tables. Pinterest is a good example of a business whose office design embraces a creative, collaborative environment.

3. Set expectations and hold teams accountable.

Aside from the technical, communication-related challenges of remote working, accountability is the second most common hurdle to flexwork being implemented at more companies. Some managers worry that employees who are working remotely won’t be able to focus on their work duties, or will struggle to stay motivated.If your company is just starting to move toward a more flexible workplace, setting clear expectations from the beginning can help prevent potential problems later on.

The idea of empowering your employees is critically important, but often it becomes more catch-phrase than reality. Usually it's because even though leaders understand it's important, they don't always know how to do it.

The best way to tackle this challenge is by regularly setting expectations with your staff. If you're doing that at appropriate intervals, you'll have the confidence that the right things are being worked on, that issues are addressed before they become problems, that your team is held accountable, and that you have the information you need to make the right calls

Support new ways of working with workplace technology

Nothing will hurt your bottom-line as much as an unhappy, disengaged workforce. That's why, in an ever-evolving workplace, more companies are investing in the employee experience and offering more workplace flexibility.

Technology is just one factor that contributes to an employee's overall experience, but one of the most significant. When you have the right solutions in place, you can help reduce friction and frustration, boost productivity, and keep employees motivated and enabled.

Get our flexible workplace technology guide for helpful tips and best practices.

How Good Are Your Workplace Software's Reporting Capabilities?

If you're looking to add the most value to your organization, start with your workplace software's reporting capabilities.

Does your workplace software reporting give quick answers about the current state of your space? Can your system provide more in-depth workplace utilization data to help leaders plan for the future?

What is workplace software reporting?

Picture yourself among the rapid change and buzzing energy of the office. Meetings are coordinated, scheduled, and adjusted. Desks and rooms are booked, re-booked, or left sitting empty. A parade of customers, vendors, contractors, and other guests check in and out throughout each busy day. Workers of all kinds — full-time and temporary; on-site, remote, and hybrid; local and those visiting from another campus — move around and interact with the environment and the others around them.

Each day, your various workplace systems and applications are used to greet incoming visitors, reserve workspace, find conference rooms and send out meeting invites, and find their way around the office. The more people use these tools, the more information you have about how people are using your space.

Workplace software reporting takes the data that's been collected and transforms it into digestible insights and actionable recommendations you can use to optimize your workplace. 

Here are some of the most important workplace software reporting options and why they matter.

Must-have workplace software reporting options — and why they matter

Average meeting length and size

How long do meetings last in your workplace?

Knowing your average meeting length provides important insight into typical meeting behaviors in your workplace. When you can look at this information, it's easier for you to determine whether you need to makes some adjustments to your room scheduling settings.

Even though nearly 75% of all meetings have two to four attendees — according to research from design firm HOK — most meeting rooms are designed for holding larger groups. By looking into your average meeting size, you can intelligently adjust your conference rooms based on the actual needs of your workforce. Another tip: Your workplace software reporting tool should allow you to sort the average meeting times by location, that way you can get an idea of how meeting habits differ from one place to another.

Office space occupancy

If you take your total occupied space and divide it by your total available space, you get office space occupancy. For instance, if your workplace is designed to seat 100 people and you only have 60 desks occupied, your occupancy rate would be 60%. With a good workplace management software reporting solution makes it easy to see occupancy rates for all your buildings, floors, and departments.

Office space occupancy is an important metric, but it's becoming much more fluid as companies use their office space in new ways. Due to the current element of unpredictability around office utilization, it's important to understand how this is evolving.

We covered this in depth during a recent discussion with Dan Ryan, the CEO and Co-founder of VergeSense, about the new research they've conducted and how it's helping company leaders hone their future approach and inform their workplace strategies.

You can watch it on demand to learn more about:

  • How office utilization is changing
  • New space planning ratios
  • How utilization varies during the week
  • How collaboration factors into utilization today

True room utilization

True room utilization is an important workplace metric that tracks how often your team is using its existing space. We have found that the optimal usage for individual rooms is somewhere between 3.5 and 6.5 hours per day, depending on a variety of factors like the time of year and the size of your organization.

Keep this in mind: True room utilization isn't the same as perceived utilization, or the number of rooms employees think are in use because they appear to be reserved.

Room recapture rate

Room recapture rate represents the number of times a room was reserved and then made available again because no one attended the meeting. For instance, if Anna reserved a conference room but no one showed up after 15 minutes, the room is opened up so someone else can use the space. Another group can “recapture” the room for those 45 minutes that it would have otherwise been reserved but empty.

Check out our guide: How Room Scheduling Software Benefits Your Bottom Line.

It's a really important conference room utilization metric and a helpful way to track the ROI of your software. If you know what your recapture rate is, you have a better understanding of your organization's employee flexibility and space efficiency gains.

Meetings scheduled in advance

Analyze how many meetings are scheduled in advance versus scheduled at the last minute for insight into meeting behaviors at your organization. If most people are scheduling meetings ahead of time, people are probably using a mobile app to schedule their meetings more often than they're booking rooms via your room scheduling panels.

Meeting cancellations and unattended meetings

Meeting cancellations are normal when they happen occasionally. But if your team frequently schedules meetings and cancels them at the last minute, your conference room utilization could use some improvement — and it's probably time to evaluate meeting culture in your workplace.  Review the number of meeting cancellations to get some insight into whether or not your workplace is improving in this area.

Any scheduled meeting without participant check-in is considered unattended. It’s important to keep track of unattended meetings so you know how much conference room space is potentially going to waste.

Visitors

Tracking the number of visitors who come to your workplace is important, especially if you have decided to limit the number of people in the office at one time to maintain safe distancing.

Using Teem’s visitor management software, you can analyze trends by visitor type (such as clients, contractors and guests), and also see historical averages for the number of visitors on any day of the week. This can be useful if you want to minimize traffic in your lobby by requiring visitors to preregister or you’re planning for a higher volume of people in your employee cafeteria.

Can your workplace software reporting do that?

Get rid of Ghost and Zombie Meetings®

When you have a single meeting that no one attends, it's known as a ghost meeting. The meeting doesn't happen, but it still “haunts” your calendar, which prevents others from using the space. By requiring employees to check in — which you can do if you have Teem's room scheduling software —you can minimize ghost meetings.

Then you can review that data later to see how often this occurs.

Zombie Meetings are recurring reservations that no one attends. It is called a “zombie" meeting because it’s functionally “dead,” but still drains your organization of its time, space, and other resources. The good news is that you can minimize Zombie Meetings with Zombie Hunter, a Teem feature that identifies and removes these recurring reservations from room scheduling calendars.

Your zombie threshold is the number of failed check-ins that a recurring event is allowed before Zombie Hunter proactively removes the event from its space.

Optimize your new workplace strategies

Right now, real estate costs are continuing to rise while many assigned desks are going unused. But if you're like most leaders, you don’t have the tools to collect all of your workplace data. Or enough time to fully evaluate that data so you know how your desks are being utilized and understand what changes you need to make.

You can use Teem's workplace software reporting to optimize your seating strategy by automatically collecting and analyzing desk utilization data and quickly creating easy-to-understand reports with key metrics to justify new strategies.

Teem's workplace software reporting also gives you easy access to the following datasets:

  • How long meetings last
  • Typical meeting size
  • How far in advance meetings are scheduled
  • How often meetings are canceled
  • How much waste is recaptured by using Teem
  • Visitor overview
  • Room usage overview
  • Meeting room utilization
  • Zombie action logs
  • Technology overview

Start putting your room and desk insights to good use! In today's workplace, you can use Teem to check things like hot desk utilization and peak desk hours — which will be key to optimizing the hybrid environment. Get a free demo to see how it works.

How Does Remote Working Impact the Workplace?

The modern workplace is a fundamentally different place than the offices we left at the onset of COVID-19 shutdowns.

Read on to learn more about the rise of remote work, the impact it's having on workplace communication and company culture, and what can be done to help employees stay sane amidst the chaos.

What's the impact of remote working on company culture?

For workers, the long-term impact of remote working will continue to emerge over the course of 2022 as their employers ramp up their return plans.

As these numbers continue to grow, the impact of remote work ⁠on everything — from hiring and retention to company perks, collaboration, and culture ⁠— will continue to be seen organization-wide. While more employees demand the ability to take a more active role in organizing their work schedules, businesses will also benefit from the ability to reach out globally for the talent they need.

Organization and scheduling

With remote working, there is no set location for meetings, so they are held over video calls or in online tools that can be accessed from anywhere. In a hybrid workplace, planning and scheduling meetings is more complicated. It's harder to get a group of people together without having to coordinate schedules and in-person plans.

For planning out their office-based workdays, employees might need answers to questions like:

  • Which desks are open next Monday?
  • Are any large conference rooms available for our team meeting next month?
  • Is there a phone booth near my final meeting on Friday?
  • Where are my team members sitting on Wednesday?

Look for a dedicated workplace experience solution that integrates with your employees' work calendar, so people can book rooms and desk as they add events to their calendar. Teem's room scheduling software, for instance, works with your existing tech so it's easier for employees to plan for the week ahead. Plus, it's also really helpful for visualizing where the space is located in the office, so they know where they'll be in relation to their other scheduled meetings and reserved spaces.

More flexible workplace policies

As we mentioned earlier, most indications seem to support the notion that the many companies plan on splitting employees' time between remote and on-site workdays, depending on the specific requirements of their role and how the company has chosen to approach their post-pandemic real estate strategy.

  • In LinkedIn's recent Global Talent Trends 2022 report surveyed more than 500 C-level executives and found that 81% are changing their workplace policies to offer greater flexibility.
  • In a survey from across geographies and industries, McKinsey found 90% of executives would go hybrid — redefining the workplace to accommodate some combination of in-person and remote working.

Over time, the number of companies offering remote working as an option for their employees is only expected to grow.

That's good news for employees, considering:

  • 72% of workers prefer a flexible work model, according to a survey of 9,000 in six countries conducted by Slack in late 2020
  • That finding matched what 72% of 1,200 workers surveyed by PwC said: They want to keep the option to work from home 2+ days each week even after their company has returned to the office.
  • Maybe that's because remote workers are happier — at least that's what a 2021 report from Owl Labs found. They reported remote workers were 22% happier than their fully onsite counterparts and tend to stay with their company longer.

In many ways, remote work helps with employee retention by providing a flexible schedule that allows workers to balance their professional and personal lives. The ability to set one's own schedule, in turn, can help increase productivity and job satisfaction — two crucial factors for retaining top talent.

Team communication: It's complicated

Online or in-person communication? Communicating in real time or asynchronously?

Remote work arrangements have had a complicated impact when it comes to how teams communicate these days. Regardless of where they're spending their time, remote workers typically need access to online chat tools like Slack for communicating with colleagues and managers. That way, whether they're working down the hall from one another or from a different location than everyone else — communication doesn't break down due to the physical distance between them and their team members.

But research shows some of the key staples of a remote work arrangement may also be adding to employee burnout and digital overload. For instance, a Microsoft study in 2021 found workers are dealing with a higher number of meetings, emails, and chat messages.  With a constant stream of notifications piling up and coming in through multiple channels, it's no surprise people say the rise in online communication is contributing to their feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed. 

(If employee burnout is a concern, get ahead of it! Find helpful tips and creative ideas for combatting employee burnout in our e-book The New Rules of Employee Happiness.)

While in some ways, these tools have made internal communications easier ⁠— at least in terms of being able to instantly send and receive communication⁠— they've also been adding new challenges to the mix.

Managing new workflows

There are many pros and cons of hybrid work and remote work, which poses challenges for management. For example, when employees are constantly working remotely, it is sometimes more difficult to keep track of their team's schedule and ensure that individual employees are meeting deadlines.

One-on-one communication with employees is more critical for remote working than ever before, so managers have had to focus on how they communicate with their teams when some people are working remotely and others are on-site. After all, an increase in the number of employees working remotely means there will be a decrease in face-to-face interactions between managers and their team members. 

Plus, the lack of in-person interaction can make it more difficult for employees to build rapport with each other and with their supervisors. This can negatively impact the employee's work relationships and overall job satisfaction.

Employees need consistent feedback from their managers and leaders in order to feel valued and appreciated.

How does remote working impact the workplace?

Remote work arrangements can be complex, involving a variety of different locations and setups.

Because of the two-year experiment with remote working, conventional ideas about where and how work happens have been flipped on their heads. Traditional work arrangements are going extinct, at least by most estimates.

Workplaces should function differently than they used to. So, focus on meeting people's needs and your company's goals where they are now — not where they were before.

The technology-assisted employee experience

These days, people are also more accustomed to being in charge of where and how they get work done. It's not just millennial and Gen-Z workers — who grew up with technology at their fingertips — employees from all generations are embracing new workplace tech. 

In a hybrid workplace, employees will regularly need to know things such as:

  • Who is in the office today?
  • Which days do I want to work remotely?
  • Are any of my meetings going to be held on site?

There's no doubt that remote work has been a major reason for accelerating digital transformation efforts and high end-user adoption rates.  (See how Teem helps employees take back control of their workday.)

Now that they've been given a bigger budget, IT leaders plan to keep the momentum going. This means focusing on what works best for employees.  In our survey of over 300 IT leaders, we found that one of their biggest priorities will be finding solutions that are user-friendly and will be easy for their team to set up and manage. 

Fluctuations in attendance

Another impact of remote working will be a wide degree of variability in office-based attendance.

Some hybrid and remote workers travel between multiple locations throughout their work week, while others may spend their entire week at home or alternate their locations between home, co-working space, and company headquarters.

You don't want to have too much space sitting empty, but you also don't want demand to be greater than availability. And sharing limited resources gets tricky in a remote and hybrid workplace, too. Any mismatch between supply and demand is likely to cause frustration and lead to a negative in-office experience.

Stay ahead of emerging trends

Did you know we have a full library of resources you can access anytime?

  • Check out all of our upcoming and on-demand webinars for fresh perspectives on all things workplace. You'll discover the latest trends and keep up with today's most important tips and tricks.
  • Listen to the Workplace Innovator podcast — There you'll find compelling discussions with global workplace management experts about enhancing the workplace experience, improving space utilization, and preparing for what's coming next. exceptional advice from global workplace management experts. 

Not sure where to start?

Try this podcast: Two Years Later — A Workplace Strategy Update for 2022 with Arnold Levin of Gensler.

Why you'll like it: Mike gets an exciting update to our most-downloaded interview of 2020. Plus, you can go back and hear the original conversation — which was so full of insight we decided to split it into a two-part series, Going Beyond Industry Trends & Physical Design Part One and Part Two. Both were released in early 2020, right before the pandemic changed everything.
Bonus: The full recording of the 2022 discussion is also available to watch on demand.

Don't miss the next conversation! There's still time to register for our Expert Roundtable: Getting Serious About Well-being at Work.

What are the Pros and Cons of Hybrid Work in the Modern Workplace?

Like transformative events before, recent events have fundamentally shifted the norms of the modern workplace. One of the most meaningful changes occurring at work today is the emergence of the hybrid work model.

What are the pros and cons of hybrid work today?

The hybrid work model emphasizes productivity and efficiency because it overcomes the downfalls of remote and in-person work while balancing their respective benefits.

Here are the top advantages and disadvantages of the modern hybrid workplace model.

Employee engagement

Because hybrid workers have more flexibility to choose when and where they work, this type of employee tends to be more empowered to choose the right environment for their needs on any given day. Compared to those who work a traditional 9-5 office schedule, they won’t have a lengthy commute or additional time away from home. They may even have a higher rate of productivity than those who work remotely full time, according to some studies that suggest a permanent switch to remote work would make the workforce less productive overall.

For example, some recent research shows that though many workers are still working remotely, they’re not feeling as engaged or fulfilled in their work as in previous years.

This might be because of the lack of direct supervision that these types of workers experience and the generally unstructured nature of working from home on your own schedule.

On top of those concerning statistics, employees working remotely might also feel like they’re missing out on something — particularly those in the workforce who are younger or less experienced. In fact, 30% of workers with less than five years of job experience said they prefer telecommuting no more than one day a week, compared with 20% of all respondents surveyed in PwC’s 2021 US Remote Work Survey.

Organizational culture

A new report from CareerBuilder showed that remote and hybrid job listings are attracting seven times more applicants than fully in-person job posts. Research from Gallup also found that 90% of white-collar workers who had worked remotely at some point as of September 2021 would prefer to keep doing so.

The most shocking finding: 30% indicated they were extremely likely to seek a new job if their company eliminated remote work.

Employee retention is a major problem for employers. Currently, some of the best talent is being lost to attrition. Considering the cost of losing an employee can be as high as 1.5-2 times the employees’ annual salary, losing some of your best talent to attrition is an increasingly costly problem to have. But it's not just the immediate loss that's concerning. It's also the time and money spent recruiting and training up the new employees needed to fill the gaps created by each departure.

But employers should be cautious about blaming 'the great resignation' for the record-high number of employees leaving their current companies without examining the deeper implications of driving factors — rising burnout rates, misalignment between what employees want and what their company offers, and the impact of a global pandemic that surfaced a renewed urgency for reprioritizing personal priorities.

There are some reasons to think companies that hire employees on a hybrid basis will have a key advantage in terms of hiring and retention. Why? The data shows that organizations with hybrid work options will be more likely to attract a wider range of candidates and that adopting a hybrid work model could help reduce turnover.

A global study by Jabra surveyed over 5,000 knowledge workers to find out what they wanted their future work arrangement to look like.

  • A significant percentage (77%) said they’d rather work for a company with flexible location options, specifically that they’d prefer the ability to work from anywhere over a fancy corporate headquarters.
  • And more than half (59%) of respondents rated “flexibility” as more important to them than salary or other benefits.
  • But keep this point in mind, also: 61% said they’d prefer if their company allowed them to come into the office when they need to and work from home when they need to, another strong indicator that a hybrid work model is going to stay in high demand with the modern workforce.

Ultimately, leaders must focus on what truly matters to today's workforce: Having the options to design their workday in the way that best fits their needs.

Many leaders worry about losing an employee to a competitor because they were able to offer more flexibility or better hours, as more and more workers seek better work-life balance or look for another company that gives them the option to work remotely. It's these contributing factors that are driving the adoption of hybrid work models.

Space optimization

It's clear this is one of the biggest life-changing transformations to the office that the world has experienced. Even those returning to work to some extent understand that while they may return to the same location, there have still been significant changes to how people work and what they want from the office experience.

Some of the companies who were among the first to grant workers the option to work fully remotely haven't given up on the corporate office. Big tech companies such as Google and Meta, for instance, have continued spending billions on office space expansions.

Why? Look at how they're approaching their return plans:

It's clear that we are in the midst of a transition from traditional office routines to more dynamic arrangements. It's also clear that this transition is just as much about overcoming the downfalls of the traditional office but rather about adjusting your space for how people want to work. Clearly, there's still a reason to expect people to use the office. But expect them to be less interested in desk-based office space and more excited about environments that put a greater emphasis on collaborative working.

Still, the hybrid work model has its challenges — for instance, companies will need to keep the space from feeling too empty or overly crowded at any given time. Because the nine to five routine doesn't suit many people anymore – either because they're simply not motivated by it or need an alternative type of structure for their day as part of achieving success at home and/or work-life balance, some hybrid arrangements will split single days between home and office environments. For instance, an employee might come into work for morning meetings and head home at lunch on one day, stay all day the next, and then work from home the remainder of the week.

Because of this high-degree of fluctuation and variability, scheduling and self-service technology is becoming more important than ever. As more companies launch a hybrid work model as part of their goal to address employees' challenges in - and out - of their physical offices, they should look into hybrid workplace tools that allow them to keep attendance organized so in-office workdays aren't chaotic or poorly planned.

Going beyond the pros and cons of the hybrid work model

The mass adoption of hybrid work is a relatively new phenomenon, so it is difficult to determine the long-term impact of this new normal on organizational culture and business performance. However, as we talked about here, there are some advantages and disadvantages to this type of work structure that are already becoming clear.

One last thing to keep in mind when it comes to overcoming the downfalls of a hybrid work model is this: People have high expectations of employers today. When it comes to their well-being, agency, and autonomy, don't cut corners. Giving employees the option to choose when to work remotely and when to come into the workplace may help overcome some of the modern challenges people face and empower them to work how and where they feel most engaged and motivated.

The more you can support mental health and well-being, the more trust and connection you'll build within your organization.

As companies transition to new and improved ways of working, supporting individual employees can make the difference between a workforce that's engaged and motivated and one that isn't.

Find out what experts say about supporting the mental health and well-being of your workforce, so you can:

  • Enhance employee engagement and productivity
  • Support well-being and build trust
  • Build a stronger culture by fostering a sense of connection

Watch our Expert Roundtable: Getting Serious About Well-being at Work.  

Activity Based Working Benefits in the Hybrid Workplace Era

Attempting to meet the needs of every employee and department is an incredible challenge, especially when you factor in the impact of the pandemic and what the purpose of an office means to organizations today.

If you're wondering how to meet everyone's needs and revive the magic of the office for your employees, consider looking into activity-based working.

Continue reading "Activity Based Working Benefits in the Hybrid Workplace Era"

5 Benefits of Desk Booking Apps in 2022

In today’s hybrid world, a desk booking app is considered an essential return-to-work technology.

What is a desk booking app?

A desk booking app is a hands-free way for people to book a desk from their phones. You can use it in your workplace to help employees find and reserve an available seat in advance or in the moment. It arms people with information — the status and location of desks — and a sense of agency over their workday by providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to manage their experience. With a desk booking app, your employees can view a variety of workspace options and pick the one that aligns nicely with their personal preferences — which can have a positive impact on their creativity, focus, and productivity.

A desk booking app solves several workplace management challenges in today's challenging era, as well. First, it allows employees to choose where to work so they can collaborate with their colleagues at a safe distance. Because they’re using their phone for desk booking, it’s as sanitary as any touchless technology. And because end-users are actively using the tool, there's more data collected by your desk reservation system that workplace leaders can easily use to monitor space utilization, make adjustments as needed, and stay on top of their important tasks like keeping shared workspaces clean.

Here’s a closer look at why a desk booking app is more important than ever and how to find the best one.

Why does your workplace need a desk booking app?

New expectations for the work environment

In short, it’s what your employees will expect when they return to work. After the pandemic hit, a 2020 Gensler survey found 52% of employees surveyed said they expected to see a greater distance between workspaces. Some workplaces accomplished this by reconfiguring their office designs and others pushed reopening plans back or allowed a limited number of employees in their space at any given time.

With the end of the pandemic in sight, buildings are reopening their doors and people are looking forward to socializing and engaging in person again. But according to the most recent US Workplace Survey conducted by Gensler in Winter 2021, over one-third of workers surveyed believed their company had not yet prepared the work environment to support a hybrid model.

Accommodates a hybrid working model

In the future, more companies are expected to implement flexible workplace strategies like desk hoteling or hot desk booking to allow employees to choose where they sit on days they come into the office.

However, not all hybrid seating strategies are equal in employees' eyes. Some say they want their employer to eliminate hot desking entirely. Why? Hot desking is a less formal version of desk booking, allowing employees to grab any desk on a first-come, first-served basis. With hot-desking systems, it can be more difficult to find an available workspace. It’s also nearly impossible to see which desks have been used and when they were last cleaned. With a desk booking app, you can support desk hoteling, hot desking’s more attractive cousin with better hygiene.

What are the benefits of desk booking?

Desk booking offers many advantages for both your employees and your leadership team. If you’re encountering resistance to the idea, here are a few quick reasons to say “yes” to desk booking with an app.

Here are a few  key benefits of desk booking:

  • Provides more flexibility in the office
  • Supports mobile, on-the-go workers
  • Helps with attraction and retention
  • Makes planning and organizing work schedule easier
  • Enables easy collaboration and/or focused work
  • Supports mobile, on-the-go workers
  • Keeps real estate costs down
  • Easier resource scheduling and cleaning

Greater flexibility

Long before the pandemic, employees have been asking for more flexibility to choose when, where, and how they work. That’s more true today than ever before. In a recent survey by The Adecco Group, 77% of employees expressed this sentiment about returning to work.

A Gallup poll conducted prior to the pandemic even found 37% of employees would be willing to leave their current job to work in a more flexible office environment.

Organized work schedules

Employees can use a desk booking app to reserve any space from home, before even coming into the office. Or, if they forget to plan ahead, they can book it on their commute to work or do so upon arrival. This gives them the freedom to work remotely a few days a week and come to the office when they it makes sense — for instance, they might want to use the office to find desks near their team so they can work on a big project with their colleagues, or maybe they just want a break from their noisy household and need to find a quiet place to work where they won’t be interrupted.

Ability to plan ahead

Having real-time data on which desks are being used at any given time and the ability to see trends over time makes it easier for your executive team to plan for future real estate needs. The ability to analyze insights from their desk booking data also allows leaders to adjust their space to better support occupants in a day and age characterized by fluctuating office utilization.

Cost savings

From a management perspective, one of the biggest benefits of desk booking is the ability to reduce real estate costs. Desk booking increases the ratio of employees to desks, allowing you to accommodate more people with fewer dedicated workspaces. In CBRE’s 2020 Global Occupier Sentiment Survey, 73% of senior real estate executives said flexible office space will be a part of their long-term real estate strategy.

Easier resource scheduling

Desk booking frees up office resources. When Sun Microsystems deployed desk hoteling at their office in Santa Clara, California, they learned that at least half of their employees were working off-site or at home the majority of the time. The workplace leadership soon figured out that roughly half of their dedicated desks could be made available to the rest of the staff and visiting employees.

Using desk booking software that includes a desk booking app also makes it easier for employees to find what they need without feeling like they're bothering someone else.

Easier cleaning

Assigned desks can become magnets for clutter. Employees tend to use them as a place to keep a pile of jackets, blankets, snacks, and other personal items, which makes it harder to keep these spaces clean. A desk booking system democratizes your workspaces and gives employees more incentive to keep them clean because they could potentially use any desk.

What should you look for in a desk booking app?

If your workplace is new to desk hoteling or you’re switching from hot desking to a more formal desk reservation system, you want to make sure you choose the right technology. The best desk booking apps are easy to use, yet robust enough to give you data that helps you plan ahead.

Here are four key features to look for.

Intuitive user experience

Look for a desk booking app that allows employees to easily find available workspaces on a map of your floor plan and reserve them in seconds. The reservation should appear on the Outlook, Microsoft 365, or Google calendars they already use.

Enables conference room scheduling

The average employee has three meetings during a typical day. In addition to needing a quiet place to work, they also need access to an available room. Many workplaces use meeting room scheduling displays, but if an employee is planning out their day or their week from home, it’s easier to use the same app to book everything. That’s why a space booking system that's both a desk booking app and conference room scheduling app is an ideal solution for modern organizations.

Integrates with sensors

A workspace may appear to be reserved in your desk reservation system, but in reality, it’s sitting empty. While enabling check-in can significantly reduce these “ghost” reservations, sensors offer the most up-to-date information on which spaces are actually being used. This also gives you the most accurate space utilization data when it’s time to clean or sanitize them.

Desk utilization data

The desk booking app you choose should be backed by a robust software system that gives you valuable insights into which spaces are booked most often, the average length of booking time, and which days of the week have the highest demand for desks. This helps your executive team plan ahead.

Benefits of using Teem's mobile desk booking app

Boosts engagement and productivity

Hybrid employees who had access to the right tools had the highest levels of productivity and engagement, according to one study. With a desk booking app, employees have access to the information they need and are able to take action when they're ready. Teem's employee desk booking app, for instance,  lets users:

  • See a desk's availability status in real-time
  • Filter options to find the best space for the day
  • View their work calendar from the app and keep it synced with their reservations
  • Book desks ahead of time or on demand

A smooth transition back into the office

Giving your employees an easy option for room and desk booking is an important part of facilitating a smooth transition back to the workplace. And with Teem's mobile desk booking app, you can also send important announcements to keep your workforce informed of any changes or notifications.

With the Teem mobile app, employees can easily book desks in a few simple steps:

  1. Search for a room or desk by availability, proximity, or capacity.
  2. Select the length of time they need to reserve the desk for.
  3. Check in when they arrive.

Plus, if an employee does not check in after a certain period of time, the desk or room will become available again. With a hybrid workforce, you can expect schedules to fluctuate and change on a dime — so this feature is really helpful for freeing up space when people forget to cancel their reservations. That way, the space is free for others to use — no harm, no foul.

It can be challenging to evaluate workplace tech and find the solution that's right for your organization. Our Ultimate Workplace Technology Buyer's Guide makes it easier. Download it here.

Top 3 Challenges and Solutions at Work After the Pandemic

If you're among the millions of leaders who are eager to get back to face-to-face interaction, then it's time to start mapping out a resolution for all of the workplace challenges that lie ahead.

In fact, it's never too early to put your organization in a position to experience better space utilization and more employee satisfaction.

Pandemic challenges in the workplace (and solutions for overcoming them)

Knowing what to prepare for and how

You want to stay on your toes and be ready for anything. If you think about it, there are many potential workplace challenges that could arise. Your team might not be ready to come back into the office, they may not feel like it's worth the commute, they may be feeling unmotivated, or they may have trouble adjusting to life outside of isolation. You may struggle to improve utilization in your office, you might have a mismatch between availability and demand — such as having too many people plan on coming in on a particular day and not enough individual workspaces — or you might not have a good system in place for tracking who came into the office when for health and safety reasons. Whatever issues might arise, the most important thing you can do today is be proactive.

Resisting the urge to stay remote won't be easy, but there are many ways to get people excited about spending more time outside of their home and getting their work done without starting at a screen all day long. Whether they're eager to change their scenery, restore their former work routine, or feel a stronger sense of connection to the company culture and their colleagues, people are hoping the pandemic ends with solutions to their biggest workplace challenges.

To maintain a productive work environment, leaders need to take an active role in managing the day-to-day experiences of their office guests and employees. In order to be successful in the modern workplace, you need to be aware of potential workplace challenges that could impact your organization once employees return to the office so you're ready for when they pop up.

Beyond having a clear and comprehensive plan for how to respond if, or when, a challenge appears, you will also need to build adaptability into your approach to avoid being to changing circumstances, employee demands, new requirements, and other shifts resulting from the pandemic.

Do your research. (Reading posts like this one counts!)

Your goal is to anticipate potential workplace challenges and develop strategies for dealing with them. That's a challenge in and of itself — but fortunately, there are many resources that can help you prepare with expert insights, best practices, and even tips on how to equip your organization with solutions beforehand.

But being aware of any potential workplace challenges that could impact your company's ongoing return is only half the battle. You also need to have a plan in place for how you will address them when they do arise.

Here's how to overcome pandemic challenges in the workplace and solutions for getting your workplace strategy right.

Challenge 1. The convenience of working from home

The task of getting people to spend less time working from behind their computer screens and more time collaborating with one another in the office is daunting, but it is possible.

It's beneficial to start with a good understanding of the underlying reasons employees might choose to spend time on site.

When it comes to your workplace, what will draw people in? A comfortable place to focus on their work? A newfound appreciation for meeting offline? More opportunities for team-building? Easy access to many different types of workspace? The ability to switch up their surroundings? In other words, you need to know what are the most appealing characteristics of your office, things your employees simply can't get anywhere else.

The pandemic has taken a toll on your employees' work and home life, so it's important to help everyone feel comfortable, welcome, and empowered when they arrive at work. Your goal should be to provide a great place where people feel motivated and ready to perform the responsibilities of their role.

Solution: Easy-to-use technology for more convenient office days

The first secret, which isn't really a secret, is using technology to make the workday more convenient and less of a hassle. For example, with a desk booking app the power to personalize their office experience is literally within the palm of their hands. Plus, they can review a few more options with their location and schedule than they may have even known they had, which means they can use it to create the workday that feels right to them.

The most important thing to remember is to make coming to work fun and simple. If they're able to quickly see which spaces are available and where they are, using the office is as easy as finding a spot and clicking to book their space.

Challenge 2. A mismatch between people's expectations and company plans

Another really important way to approach these workplace challenges is by understanding that value is not the result of one-sided efforts. Success is something that is co-created. Most of these issues arise when things are viewed through an "either, or" lens that sets the tone that by delivering on employee needs, the business has to sacrifice something and vice versa. Hot desking anxiety is one example of this.

Solution: Align your workplace strategy with employee goals

Renegotiate the nature of the relationship that companies and leaders and employees have together — not just based on industry trends and performance metrics, but really looking at what those things mean under the surface.

What if, rather than set up that sort of dichotomy, you were to evaluate these topics with the goal of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement? Identify how the needs of the business and the needs of your employees intersect and influence one another so you can leverage the places where they overlap. That way, everyone wins and those wins contribute to even bigger wins.

Challenge 3. Hybrid work is complex and difficult to manage

Data analysis and reporting is a critical way for workplace leaders to keep an eye on what's going on in their office space and identify opportunities to optimize their space for more efficient operations and increased cost savings.

Making decisions in times as uncertain as these can be intimidating. It doesn't have to be though. There are some simple steps you can take and some easy-to-deploy workplace systems that can help you make the right calls at the exact right times. For instance, tools like Teem Insights help leaders collect data and evaluate how their desks are utilized to help optimize their seating strategies. Once you have an eye on the data that really matters, knowing what your workplace needs to succeed becomes simple, and executing your strategy is less of a hassle.

Solution: Hybrid systems with workplace analytics leaders can use

Businesses in today's digital era must focus on integrating all of the information that's collected from their various systems and applications in order to get a clear picture without overlooking any important factors. Having all your data in easy-to-digest dashboards is one of the simplest ways to check on key performance indicators and other essential metrics at a glance.

Know how your workplace is performing in real-time so you can make quick decisions and keep your finger on the pulse of your workplace. And when you need to dive into things more deeply, review custom reports that not only allow you to see information more in-depth but also go the extra mile by providing intelligent recommendations based on what your data shows.

In the meantime, if you want to streamline the return process sooner rather than later, then I encourage you to share your experience with your peers, continue researching how other companies are handling their returns, and stay curious about how the workplace is changing.

The pandemic has caused a lot of changes in the workplace, and many organizations are struggling to adapt. Here, we covered the top three workplace challenges that companies are facing and provide solutions to help you overcome them. You can also download our free guide that covers the specific challenges impacting the hybrid workplace in greater detail for more insights on this topic. Download it here.

The Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Workforce

What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a hybrid workforce?

What is a hybrid workforce?

A hybrid workforce sometimes refers to the practice of hiring full-time employees, part-time employees, and contractors. The idea of using a hybrid workforce isn’t a new one. In fact, it's been around for quite some time. Traditionally, businesses have used a mix of both full-time and part-time employees to complete tasks as needed.

With the rise in gig work and contracting, the concept of a hybrid workforce really took off over the past decade. In more recent years, companies have become increasingly interested in what a “hybrid workforce” can do for them from a business perspective. Leaders began looking at how to make their companies more agile and effective. As they started exploring creative ways to be more efficient with the work that they did and how it was distributed, the conversations about hybrid working primarily focused on whether it was cost-effective or questioning how they might use it to optimize their operations.

The hybrid workforce is the future of business. Here’s why.

To help account for the growing practice of hiring a mixture of full-time remote employees, part-time remote employees, and office-based workers, the definition of a hybrid workforce is expanding. Now, a hybrid workforce commonly refers to a workforce that's made up of employees who alternate between working on-site and remotely.

There's been a significant jump in the number of companies interested in implementing a hybrid workforce. According to a recently released report from Microsoft, 81% of enterprise organizations have started making the move toward becoming hybrid.

This growing interest in hybrid work is thanks in large part to the success companies saw after being thrown into the world of remote work during the pandemic. It can also be attributed to major shifts impacting the job market today. Not only must employers address the surge in employee demand for these new work models, but they also have to face hiring and retention challenges amidst a labor shortage and the 'Great Resignation' — the trend of workers quitting their jobs in favor of better pay, better opportunities, better benefits, or a better balance between their personal and professional lives.

SUGGESTED WEBINAR: What Will Office Days Look Like for the Hybrid Workforce?

Pros and cons of a hybrid workforce in 2022

There are both advantages and disadvantages to this type of workforce setup. Let's explore the pros and cons of implementing a hybrid workforce in greater detail.

Main advantages of a hybrid workforce

The traditional workplace arrangement, where companies hire an employee and they are physically present in the office full-time, is the opposite of the hybrid workplace. Compared to a traditional workforce, it can provide companies with several advantages, including:

  • Can be more cost-effective for space and equipment
  • Gives employees more flexibility and freedom
  • Expands the company's opportunities for growth

For business leaders and those managing the workplace, the primary advantage of switching to a hybrid work model is that it’s much more cost-effective. Implementing a hybrid workforce can expand your company’s reach to new markets, while also saving money on office space and equipment. 

A hybrid workforce is a great way to take advantage of the positive aspects of both remote and in-person work. Companies that embrace this model successfully support provide their people say-so over their workday while still putting a premium on human interaction and face-to-face collaboration. In other words, companies that are based on a hybrid workforce get the best of both worlds.

Hybrid workforces are built around flexibility and freedom. This is a growing trend in today’s workforce and was originally popularized by startups and tech companies. Since the growth of remote work and the gig economy, the concept of a distributed workforce can be applied to many industries, not just tech. Even small businesses can benefit from having a hybrid workforce. This is because they can save on office expenses and also attract a wider range of applicants when hiring.

Main disadvantages of a hybrid workforce

It is no secret that the trend of offering remote work as a perk has taken off in the past decade. This flexibility is a huge plus for many workers, who can use their mobile phones to schedule their workweek in advance and know where they'll be working before they even leave home. On the other hand, it's not right for every company and there are several disadvantages to keep in mind:

  • Makes managing people more complex
  • Can cause employees to feel overwhelmed or disconnected
  • Increases risk of cybersecurity risks and data privacy issues

A hybrid workforce can be a major disadvantage for companies that are not well-prepared for this new form of working. Don't overlook employee concerns while preparing your office space for your return. A hybrid workforce is great for employees who want to work flexible hours, but bad for employers who do not have the tools to manage remote workers effectively. It can become challenging to support your employees if they all work from different locations at different hours and have different work needs.

One of the main disadvantages of a hybrid workforce is that you have to bridge the gaps between those who are working in the office and those who are remote. According to a recent global study conducted by employee engagement platform Tinypulse, over 80% of people leaders reported that hybrid work was exhausting for employees. And employees, too, reported that hybrid work was more emotionally taxing than both fully remote and fully on-site work arrangements. Investments in digital tools that facilitate collaboration, make information accessible to everyone, and support mobility and flexibility should be considered to help your hybrid workforce thrive. 

When you have a hybrid workforce, you also need to take a fresh look at your company's cybersecurity policies and consider what updates need to be made to secure company data. In addition to investing in protection systems, threat analysis software, malware detection software, and cybersecurity systems, there are several actions you can take to help mitigate cybersecurity risks and minimize the likelihood of data breaches and compliance issues. Good cybersecurity and data protection practices should be top of mind for your whole organization, so employees should have regularly scheduled training on best practices and company policies.

Must-have technology for a hybrid workforce

Using technology to support your hybrid workforce will help save money on office space and reduce wasted space, saving your company money in the long run. Additional advantages include higher employee satisfaction and increased productivity.

Workplace analytics software

Organizational success is within reach and closer than ever when you connect the data you get from your space booking systems with workplace analytics software. It's an easy way to provide leadership with deeper insights into space utilization and peak times spaces are being used. That type of information will be hugely important both while companies return to the office and afterward, as the transformation of how and where we work continues to unfold.

Mobile employee experience app

People use their phones to quickly order food, schedule appointments on their calendars, plug a new address into their GPS. For your employees, the ability to access desk booking, wayfinding, and room reservation tools directly from their mobile devices via an easy-to-use employee app makes coming into the office a simple and hassle-free experience. It's precisely the kind of convenience and simplicity people deserve. Plus, the less time they have to spend tackling tedious, time-consuming tasks the more time they have for high-value add activities. And with less time in the office, every second counts.

There are new rules for creating workplace happiness for today's hybrid workforce. Download our guide to learn how to recognize employee burnout and get tips on how to overcome it.

What Is Hot Desking Anxiety (And How to Overcome It)

If you haven’t heard of hot desking anxiety yet, you will. Without a clear idea of who will be returning when, workplace leaders are implementing flexible workplace strategies like hot desking to help maximize their office space.

But for many employees, there are still some concerns about how this will work out. Continue reading "What Is Hot Desking Anxiety (And How to Overcome It)"