November 18th, 2020


How IT Leaders Can Support A Safe Return To Work

As an IT leader, you’re pulled in many different directions. And the last thing you want to do is choose sides — especially when it comes to workplace software decisions that affect everyone.

Whether your company has gone back to the office or not, the events of the past year have likely prompted you to double down on technology investments. You’ve been tasked with finding solutions, like office wayfinding and visitor management, that protect and empower your workforce while giving your leadership team the insights they need to plan ahead.

It’s a tall order, but if anyone can do it, you can. You just need to get into the mindsets of your most important users.

Here’s how to find workplace software that not only checks all their boxes, but exceeds their expectations.

What do HR and experience leaders need from workplace software?

Whether they call themselves chief people officers, workplace experience leaders, or HR directors, the people responsible for attracting and retaining top talent are feeling stressed.

“For most organizations, talent is the single biggest overhead expense — and the biggest competitive advantage,” said Brian Kropp, Group VP of Gartner HR, in a recent article. “Heads of HR are under extreme pressure right now to realize the promise digitalization has to offer, both in terms of the business and employee experience.​”

If your company is lucky enough to be adding new employees right now, those in more traditional HR roles are trying to find and onboard the best candidates remotely. They’re trying to equip them with the technology they need to be productive while working from home and collaborating with people they’ve never met in person.

Even the best applicant tracking systems are no longer enough to support your HR team’s needs. They need workplace software that will help them manage the entire employee experience, including onboarding, talent development, and employee engagement.

Workplace experience leaders, who worked closely with the HR and facilities teams to ensure employees had everything they needed in the office, might be struggling to find their place right now.

Many of the benefits and amenities that bolstered your workplace experience, like conference room displays, were likely centered around physical places. They’re trying to reimagine what that experience looks like remotely while developing a return-to-work plan when leadership decides it’s time.

Both HR professionals and workplace experience leaders need solutions that:

  • Allow employees to be more self-sufficient when it comes to accessing benefits, amenities, workspaces, and technology
  • Make it easy to manage health checks when employees return
  • Make internal communications easier

To satisfy your HR and experience leaders, look for workplace software, such as office wayfinding, that integrates with employee directories. It should also include a mobile app your workforce can use to reserve rooms or desks from the moment they download it.

What do facilities managers need from workplace software?

Like everyone else, your facilities managers have also become experts at pivoting.

Whether they oversee one building or many properties, they’ve had to make swift adjustments to align your office space with the new realities.

They’ve had to determine how to bring essential on-site employees back to work safely.

That includes limiting capacity in the office, reconfiguring workspaces and meeting rooms to allow for appropriate physical distancing, and implementing new protocols for cleaning and sanitizing your spaces.

In addition to meeting these immediate needs, they’re also trying to forecast future space needs. Even after the threat of the pandemic has diminished, employees aren’t likely to return to the workplace five days a week.

According to a Slack survey, 72% of people prefer a hybrid approach to work that includes a mix of on-site and remote work.

Facilities managers and corporate real estate leaders need to account for this new reality as they make decisions about floor plans and lease agreements.

As HOK’s global WorkPlace director Gordon Wright said in a recent livestream event, facilities managers can’t afford to make short-term, costly decisions.

“Let’s make sure that we make smart decisions about the space and how we’re going to occupy it that are adjustable so that we don’t go in adjusting entire campuses and buildings,“ he said. “The worst thing we can do is start making changes without understanding where we’re coming from or where we’re getting to.”

That means facilities managers need a workplace management solution that:

  • Gives them real-time insights into how employees use your space
  • Offers robust reporting
  • Provides recommendations for maximizing space utilization
  • Makes cleaning and sanitizing spaces more efficient

Look for solutions that integrate with IoT sensors, which offer real-time data on how your workforce is using the space available to them. Solutions that simplify room and desking booking are essential. And if your company is managing more than a single office or you’re growing fast, you also need workplace software that helps you visualize and manage many spaces at once. That includes the ability to create safer floor plans and manage seat assignments or shifts.

See how our Space-Right™ space planning feature makes this simple.

What does your IT team need from workplace software?

Your team has been implementing new technology with a focus on security and scalability since this crisis began. You may be fielding more RFPs and support tickets than ever before as your company moves more of its operations to the cloud.

At the same time, you recognize technology should make your employees’ lives easier, not more complicated. And it shouldn’t add more work for your team, either.

Any new solutions you implement needs to fit into your overall business strategy, your infrastructure, and your existing technology stack.

That’s why any workplace software you choose should:

  • Be 100% cloud based, so it’s accessible anywhere
  • Be priced to scale with your organization, requiring little or no upfront capital costs
  • Include regular updates and maintenance in subscription fees
  • Integrate with the solutions your team already uses
  • Have enterprise-level data security, including encryption of data at rest and in transit

Look for solutions that are easy to implement and integrate with your existing calendar apps, digital signage, and other technology you already have.

What do your employees need from workplace software?

Even if you haven’t expanded your team, your employees have changed.  When COVID hit, they had to shift their focus and learn new skills.

Employees who excel at building in-person relationships, for example, may have felt out of their depth when trying to develop and maintain remote work relationships. Those whose jobs didn’t require strong digital skills had to adapt quickly to using unfamiliar solutions.

They also had to adjust to a new work environment at home that may have included juggling restless children, dealing with live video calls next to roommates or spouses, or being single and alone in a new city without the social outlet of coworkers.

Now that they’ve somewhat adjusted to remote work, they’ll have to re-adjust to going back to work in person, with unfamiliar rules and procedures that may make them feel like they’re starting a new job.

New anxieties are cropping up among employees and managers alike as they prepare for this transition. For example, they may have concerns about pre-COVID practices such as hot desking, which may increase the risk of virus exposure.

Others may not be able to return right away or have unpredictable schedules due to sudden school closures and lack of daycare. This could leave them feeling out of the loop with their team.

While employees have missed the face-to-face interaction with their co-workers, they want to maintain the flexibility they’ve become accustomed to in the past year.

Being sensitive to these needs and expectations will help you make better choices when it comes to investing in technology.

To ensure a smooth transition as you head back to the office, you need workplace software that promotes safety, simplicity, and collaboration.

To maximize user adoption, look for solutions that:

  • Have an intuitive user interface
  • Are mobile for contact-free reservations and wayfinding
  • Use a single platform for multiple purposes to reduce “app overload”
  • Allow employees to sign in securely with single sign on (SSO) authentication through your existing email provider
  • Improve collaboration by making it easy to reserve rooms or book desks on demand

Look for features that make employees feel more connected to your company’s mission and each other, regardless of their physical location.

The software you choose should be as simple and streamlined as the apps your employees already have on their smartphones.

Build a culture of trust with Teem

You need technology that allows your company to be nimble while you grow, but that also allows you to change directions quickly when you face the unexpected.

By putting safety, simplicity, and collaboration at the forefront when deciding on workplace software, your company also has the opportunity to re-define its culture.

Teem’s return-to-work technology empowers your employees to find and reserve the desk or room that best supports their needs through a user-friendly mobile app. Your HR team can manage wellness screenings and contact tracing with our visitor management system, which integrates with Active Directory. Meanwhile, your facilities team will gain important insights on space utilization so they can make adjustments now and plan for the future.

And implementation and integration couldn’t be easier for your IT team.

Keep your employees safe in your workplace while keeping them connected. Start your free trial today.

Teem author thumb


Teem by iOFFICE provides enterprises with space scheduling and management, workplace analytics, building, and campus wayfinding, and visitor management to help cultivate workplaces that fuel productivity, efficiency, and creativity.


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