The Best Return-to-Work Strategy: Facilities Management Post-Pandemic

As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses and vaccines become more available, workplaces have a crucial decision to make: how to safely return to work. Many factors must be considered when making this decision: how employees have responded to working from home, what your state health and safety guidelines regarding the pandemic and business are, your budget and how the pandemic has affected it, the equipment and space you have available for a floorplan re-stack, and many, many more. Generally, return-to-work strategies are falling to three categories:

  1. A stringent approach: organizations will not be returning to physical workspaces until 2022.
  2. A return-to-normal approach: organizations are requiring their employees to return to the same operations as before the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. A hybrid approach: organizations have some employees attending the physical office and others working from home.

There is no right answer as to which approach your organization should take, excepting where state health and safety requirements may require you to implement certain health practices, such as temperature-taking, mask-wearing, hand-sanitizing, social-distancing, and more. All those in consideration, the pandemic has emphasized to a greater degree that the health and happiness of employees and facilities is extremely important to the health and productivity of organizations. RSC has compiled what each approach may entail, what we recommend and why, and what your organization may want to consider when returning to work. Read the following articles to learn more and determine the best return-to-work strategy for your organization.

How to Track Remote Employees Pt. 1 – Archibus Space (Planning & Management)

This is part one of a two-part series on tracking remote employees.

The facilities management field is committed to answering the specific needs of organizations, which currently is how to respond to Covid-19 (coronavirus). Social distancing has required organizations to bring their facilities to minimal capacity, if not entirely shut down. This advent has brought some great advantages to organizations and their employees, namely cost-savings due to employees working from home, and greater productivity.

RSC has helped various organizations track remote employees over the years. Users can accomplish this through either of two different domains: Archibus Space (Space Planning & Management) or Archibus Sustainability & Risk (Emergency Preparedness).

This article will only focus the methods in Archibus Space. There are four methods that RSC recommends:

  1. Room Standards Displayed on Space Console Floorplans
  2. Room Category and Type
  3. Customizable Fields in the Employees Table
  4. Floor Code and Room Code in the Employees Table

Why track remote employees?

Tracking employees who are working from home poses two major advantages to organizations:

  1. Future space planning – Once the effects of Covid-19 have subsided and employees may return to the office, organizations can plan how they may need to expand or decrease their space. Organizations will then already have tracked the employees who prefer to work from home even after the pandemic.
  2. Understanding your real estate portfolio – Keeping this up-to-date is a cornerstone of effective facilities management. Data within the IWMS will be accurate and employees at all levels will be able to make strategic decisions for the health of the organization.

Room Standards Displayed on Space Console Floorplans

One of the great advantages of Archibus is its visual tools. The Space Console within Archibus Space (Space Planning & Management) can display a floorplan that allows users to see various highlights with different meanings.

A screenshot of the Archibus Space Console displaying remote workers via the room standard highlight.
Show which employees are working from home in the Space Console found in Archibus Space.

In the case of tracking remote employees, the Space Console can highlight room standards. In the demonstration in the video below, we created a room standard of “Remote” that we assigned to specific rooms, and then viewed on the Space Console floorplans. Watch the video below to see how we did this!

The Space Console in Archibus can be used to display a floorplan with color-coded rooms denoting a room category. Use the Room Standard table to create a “Remote” assignment to specific rooms and see who is working remotely.

Room Category and Type

This is RSC’s CEO Bob Stephen’s favorite method. He highly recommends this because the data will automatically be displayed in summary reports, without having to create a new, separate report, and it can track the total number of employees without needing a headcount.

Under “Define Room Categories and Types”, we created a room category and a room type under that, both called “Remote Worker”.

Please note that we recommend users assign the “Calculation Used In” field to “No Totals” so that any existing room counts are not affected. We also recommend that users assign the “Super Category” field to “Other Area” so that any chargeback numbers are not affected. Users may wish to change the “Occupiable” field to “No” to avoid similar problems.

A screenshot of the Define Category and Type view in Archibus Space with the Calculations Used in and Super Category circled in red.
RSC recommends that, when using room categories and types in Archibus to assign employees as remote workers, that users assign “Calculations Used In” to “No Totals” and “Super Category” to “Other Area” so that room counts and chargeback data are not affected.

Setting up the category and type will allow users to go into a report under “Personnel & Occupancy” called “View Employee Average Area by Category and Type” and see how many total employees are assigned to the “Remote Worker” category.

Watch the video below to see a live demonstration of how we did this!

A screenshot of the View Employee Average Area by Category and Type report in Archibus Space with the Remote Worker category circled in red.
Users can see exactly how many employees are assigned a room category or type of “Remote Worker” when they access the “View Employee Average Area by Category and Type” report in Archibus Space.
Users can create a room category and room type of “Remote Worker” in Archibus Space, assign this to specific rooms, then track exactly how many employees are working remotely in reports.

Customizable Fields in the Employees Table

Under “Personnel and Occupancy”, users can view the Employees Table, which contains basic information about all employees, such as email address and location. Archibus has recently added the capability to turn on two fields called “Option 1” and “Option 2” that can be filled with any data or information desired.

We used these fields to create a label of “Remote” for any employee who is working from home, then filtered down to display all employees marked as such.

A screenshot of the Option 1 customizable field in the employees table in Archibus filtered for remote workers and circled in red.

6 Free-form fields in the employees table in Archibus Space can be turned on to add any kind of information to an employee, in this case, whether he or she is working remotely.

The advantage to using this method is that no existing location data is lost, and these options require no customization; they can be turned on without modifying the code of the software.

Watch the video below to see a tutorial of how to turn these fields on.

The customizable “Option 1” and “Option 2” fields can be turned on to fill with any information an organization desires. RSC used this to label which employees are working from home.

Floor Code and Room Code in the Employees Table

In the “Background Data” users can click on “Define Locations” and edit the Sites, Buildings, and Floors drop-down tree.

Within this tree, we created a floor code of “Remote”. The actual code only allows for four characters, so we chose “REM” to represent this.

A screenshot of the floor code creation view in Archibus Space with the floor code circled in red.

8 The floor code in Archibus Space only allows for four characters. To track remote employees, we used “REM” to represent a floor name of “Remote”.

Users can then go to the Employees table, just as in the previous method, and filter under the floor code for “REM” to display all employees who are assigned a floor code of remote.

A screenshot of the employees table in Archibus Space with the floor code circled in red.

9 Users can filter under floor code for “REM” in the employees table in Archibus Space to display all employees who are working from home.

This method works well for assigning an entire floor to remote work, but the disadvantage is that all previous location data will be lost. Alternatively, users could create a room code of “REM” and filter for that in the employees table, which would maintain the floor location for that employee.

Watch the video below to see a live demonstration of this method!

A screenshot of the employees table in Archibus Space with the room code circled in red.

10 Users may also filter for “REMOTE” under the room code in the employees table in Archibus Space to display the employees who are working remotely. This method ensures that not all previous location is lost.