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.

Conversations with Todd: How is ARCHIBUS most commonly used?


Todd: I think most of our clients use it for Space Management and for Building Operations. We’ve also seen it used for Energy Management, Project Management, and I think one of the great strengths of ARCHIBUS is that it’s a really deep well. There’s a lot of stuff you can use it for. Most people start with Space or Facilities Management but there’s a lot of places you can branch out.

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ARCHIBUS Applications: Space Inventory & Performance

Evaluate and plan space usage to maximize efficiency and decrease total occupancy costs.


  • Delivers flexible, self-service reporting for effective space allocation and cost control.
  • Improves evaluation of building performance and enables accurate benchmarking.
  • Enhances design/planning capabilities to use space more efficiently.
  • Helps achieve business results with ARCHIBUS Quick-Start, a productivity aid which includes tutorial videos and “How To” instructions.
  • Increases productivity with ARCHIBUS All-in-One Home Page with quick access to 80% of tasks.
Use the single view, easy to use space console or mobile interface to manage space assignments to departments and employees, plan for future space needs, and report on portfolio-wide space utilization.

Knowing how much space an entity has, and how efficiently it is being used, is essential for managing the organization’s Total Cost of Occupancy. To expedite self-service access to space inventory and usage reports for decision support, ARCHIBUS Space Inventory & Performance provides an integrated Webbased solution for viewing and managing an organization’s different types of space (such as departmental boundaries/rooms/common areas, vertical penetrations, service areas, and more) to ensure optimal space allocation. With this application, managers can plan for greater space efficiency by co-locating departments and identifying opportunities for consolidation.

*All information was provided courtesy of ARCHIBUS

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Conversations with Bob: Why is IWMS essential today?

Megan: I’ve seen a lot of articles about how IWMS is a break through technology and now more than ever, with the way corporate real estate and facilities management is growing and changing, that IWMS is essential to a successful business. What are your thoughts on that?

Bob: I absolutely agree. Today’s world is changing. The U.S. used to be a global financial area as well as Japan and Europe but the world is now becoming a global economy. With technology, people can work from anywhere at anytime. We’re a virtual company. All my staff either work on site or at home. Larger companies are starting to have their staff work remotely. Understanding where groups of people are, how much square footage you have, and how much you actually need is imperative in today’s fast changing world. You begin to understand that what used to be the norm of 250 sq. ft. per person which included the common area and their office now is down, in some companies, to 50 or 60 sq. ft. per person. Why? Simply because the person isn’t there all the time. They can work from home. They’re on the road. All you really need is a desk to touchdown. They don’t actually need a space to put a picture of their family, they’ve got it on their phone or their laptop. These systems allow companies to reduce their geographic footprint as far as physical buildings go, but to still understand what they need for the amount of staff they have and where their staff are. I’ve also done things like heat maps. In London I have three satellite offices and there are 35 employees. Doesn’t it make sense for us to consolidate that into one floor and not have three satellites and pay three leases but bring them into one and only pay one lease? It really helps them to make strategic decisions like that.

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Pt. 1 Managing CAFM Information Systems

When looking into an IWMS, most companies focus mainly on technology. This is completely natural; companies want to “touch” the software and get a “feel” for what it will be like. Technology is only 20% of the implementation, though.  Oftentimes, time and energy are focused solely on this 20%, while the remaining 80% goes untouched.  To have a successful IWMS implementation, attention needs to be given to all aspects of the process, which is broken into three parts: the business process, the relationship arena, and the technology.  

Business Process

A business process is simply defined as the way you as a company accomplish work. RSC examines what is working, what is not working, and what are nice-to-haves.  When these are defined, analyzed, charted, and agreed upon, a clear path to success can be accomplished.  RSC understands that business processes are not always easy to change and should not need to be changed to fit a technical solution.  We focus on making sure the technology fits the desired process.  For these reasons RSC has always recommended ARCHIBUS as the solution because:

  1.  it is designed from best practices,
  2.  it is open architecture,
  3. tools are provided to allow process modifications, and
  4.  it leverages existing tools used by your IT department
    (i.e. MSSQL, AutoCAD, etc.).

This model allows staff, existing Business partners, or other Consultants to assist in tailoring the application to meet Business Processes. Other IWMS software solutions may require Vendor staff (at a high price) to make these changes. Often the request may not be fulfilled because the request simply does not fit the roadmap of the IWMS Company.  RSC will diagram the workflow so the system will be configured in a way that will fit your business process best.

Relational Environment

All organizations have political drivers. They may range from cost constraints, manpower needs, higher priorities, or specialized operations. Recognizing these drivers is a key factor in successfully implementing IWMS. Each department or cost center may have various and sometimes conflicting drivers.  A clear understanding of additional process and data needs will need to be driven from within the organization’s leadership. If the desired outcome is left to the individual department or cost center managers without a clear understanding of the desired results the likelihood of having a successful implementation and achieving those desired results is reduced.In layman’s terms:  RSC helps multiple departments within a company work together for a common cause.  Examples of this include collaboration with an HR department and with IT.

  1. IWMS use HR systems (e.g., Workday, People Soft, etc.) to put people into the space.  This can be done manually, but would be a waste of time to re-enter the names and employer identification of all employees within a company when the information is already entered and available within the HR system.  Whatever information is entered into the HR system is synchronized to the IWMS automatically.  Often times, trouble ensues when reaching out to the HR department.  Due to the sensitivity of information contained in the records, HR is hesitant about releasing their information.  The IWMS does not need Social Security Numbers, pay rates, or personal addresses,  it simply requires the employees full name and employer identification number in order to assign each employee a desk, seat, and resources (e.g., phone, computer, internet connection, etc.).
  2. IT departments are phenomenal at what they do.  They are experts at understanding what technologies they use and how to use it.  Rarely, however, do they understand why facilities or corporate real estate need a complex IWMS.  It is vital to have a translator between IT and Corporate Real Estate to explain the importance of graphical interfaces versus excel spreadsheets.  IT needs to understand the IWMS as well as ensure it is on the server and running 24/7.

Bridging this arena can be complicated, which is why RSC is devoted to creating a smooth transition.


The technology selected must be flexible enough to maneuver the Business Process and Political Environment.  Installing, populating data, and writing reports are all just a smaller portion of the successful IWMS implementation. Too often a company will focus on the features of the technology and ignore the business process and politics.  RSC works with our clients to determine the technology features that are most important to our clients, our client’s desired business processes, and the current political climate to ensure the right goals are met.Not only will RSC ensure our clients have a great IWMS, but that transition into the software is seamless so the system can work the way it is designed to.

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What is IWMS?

So what is IWMS and why do we need it?  An IWMS or an Integrated Workspace Management System can be defined as a software platform that helps organizations optimize the use of workplace resources, including the management of a company’s real estate portfolio, infrastructure and facilities assets1.
The ARCHIBUS Total Infrastructure and Facilities Management model, shown below, covers the entire infrastructure’s life cycle, from acquisition to reassignment or disposal.

Image credit: ARCHIBUS

The expanded discipline of Infrastructure & Facilities Management, also shown below, groups all those activities under four main business competencies: Property, Facilities, Technology, and Operations Management, delivering all the processes from Real Estate Portfolio Management to Assignment and Redeployment.

Image credit: ARCHIBUS 

ARCHIBUS is the only solution available today that provides a holistic approach to Facilities and Infrastructure life cycle management. The ARCHIBUS family of tightly integrated applications and activities deliver comprehensive solutions and capabilities. This single solution is simple to install and use, scales to grow with your organization, and provides flexible cost-effective add-on options that extend its benefits throughout an enterprise.

Image credit: ARCHIBUS

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Article Review: 9 Benefits of Space Management That Will Impact Your Bottom Line Big Time

Have you seen this article in IWMS News?  We came across it a while back and thought it was spot on!  Here are a few highlights and excerpts from it:

1. Identify Under-Utilized Spaces

45% of space is vacant at any time, which means companies are paying a lot of money to not occupy space!  Use an IWMS system to identify what space is not being used efficiently.  Once that’s done, you can implement necessary changes.

2. Align Workplace Initiatives with Business Goals

Without a firm grip on your space occupancy, organizations can’t align their workplace initiatives with their business goals.  Effective space management is a fundamental requirement for impacting bottom line results.

3. Forecast Future Space Requirements

In order to reduce poorly used space, you need to be able to forecast future space requirements.  Space management through an IWMS creates reliable forecasts and hypothetical scenarios to compare costs based on business evolution variables.

4. Simplify Chargeback Process

Space management helps analyze historical space usage and creates accurate chargeback reports for when disputes arise.  When departments are held accountable for their actual space usage, they tend to be more defensive, having a direct impact on your bottom line

5. Simplify Space Analysis

Space Management teams using an IWMS can analyze actual space usage, compare it with planned space usage, and present information in a way that allows you to make informed decisions.

6. Streamline the Move Process

Moves are expensive.  If you want to impact your bottom line via effective space management, you need effective move management.  This means streamlining the entire move process from request to completion in order to optimize churn rates and reduce costs.

7. Compare Actual with Planned Space Utilization

It’s very important to constantly compare planned space utilization with actual space utilization.  Using dashboards and business intelligence reports allows you to monitor actual space utilization and make changes in usage accordingly.

8. Increase Efficiency

Two co-dependent departments, like Accounts Payable  and Accounts Receivable, for example, need to ensure cooperation.  Most IWMS systems can graphically create scenarios based on interdepartmental relations. Now aware of what each other is doing, each department can function at its most efficient.

9. Utilize Building Information Modeling

A lot of information required for BIM is already in an IWMS, which usually is the dominant management approach for generating and managing a building. This means that most IWMS vendors will include geospatial information to create cost-effective space occupancy scenarios.

We thought these nine points were excellent examples of how important it is to have a quality IWMS system.  The impact IWMS makes to your bottom line is tremendous.  At RSC, we know we can help you achieve goals like those mentioned above and are happy to help you out every step of the way!

*disclaimer: most of the above text are words originally shared on an article posted at  We do not claim them to be our own.  We are posting them to share information we found interesting or insightful.  Credit is given to the source*

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AutoCAD Advantages

In this edition of AutoCAD Advantages, we thought it would be helpful to share some basic glossary terms to help better your understanding of AutoCAD.


X,Y,Z values indicating a cartesian coordinate system for placing all objects. Most of the time Z=0. Basically, this is a grid system for describing location. There is a defined origin (0,0). The unit measurements are also defined (inches, mm, cm, etc.). Coordinates are indicated with the horizontal value (X) first, then the vertical (Y).


Base unit of measurement. Everything is expressed in terms of this measurement. There’s a bit of complexity involved with this information – Architectural, Decimal, Engineering, Surveying Mm, cm, m, inches, feet, yards. The file has to know what kind of units it uses, and what kind of units other drawings are coming in at, and unit conversions have to take place, for instance, 1inch = 2.54cm.


The rectangle that contains all the visible information in the drawing. The extents of this drawing is shown by the blue dotted box. If you were to zoom to the extents, all the lines and points would be visible. The system variables EXTMAX and EXTMIN refer to the upper left point and the lower left point of the rectangle.


The organizational system for drawings. All items on a layer share certain properties and can be turned on and off as a group. This is often explained as a bunch of layers of tracing paper on top of each other. I find that explanation a bit simplistic. Layers are used for controlling visibility and line thickness as well as organization. On/Off vs. Thawed/Frozen – On/Off layers are loaded into memory, so they can be quickly toggled. Thawed/Frozen require a drawing refresh (the difference was a HUGE deal back in the day – there was a significant trade off with performance – not so noticeable now).


Containers of geometry. Allows the program to use shorthand when dealing with multiple instances. It isn’t 20 do-hickeys, it is 1 do-hickey referenced 20 times. These could also be considered internal references (as opposed to external references), or a file within a file. There’s a presentation, here that I’ve used to explain blocks and Xrefs. I’d be happy to review it at some point. When inserted the program mostly only cares about: Insertion point (insPoint) the X,Y,Z coordinates of the block Scale factors (X,Y,Z) these can all be adjusted separately, but usually aren’t Rotation – a number generally expressed in degrees


External References. Allows an autoCAD drawing to contain another AutoCAD drawing. Originally this was used to make working with a file much faster. The current file doesn’t allow you to edit the information in the reference. Now it is used to allow mutlitple people to work on a single drawing. It is also useful for organization. I think of this as a pointer from one file to another. There’s a presentation, here that I’ve used to explain blocks and Xrefs.

  • Nested X-ref – A file contained within a file.
  • Attached – firm connection to the drawing, passed through if this drawing is Xrefed into another drawing
  • Overlayed – file just sits on top – not passed along if containing file is xrefed into another drawing.

Model Space

Where the drawing takes place. 3D is available. Everything is drawn 1:1.

Paper Space

A print preview. Only 2D available. Viewports into Model Space, show areas at scale. You can have two areas at different scale (close and far) at the same time.


A rigid coordinate system where only certain values are acceptable for snapping purposes. See coordinate system.


Removes unused entities. (They exist in the drawing definitions but aren’t visible.)


There are a couple color spaces that you may have to deal with: RGB (millions of colors) , and AutoCAD colors (256 colors) This is similar to the web based color palette, but not exactly the same.


Red Green Blue – Color Space for mixing light. Also expressed as a coordinate system R,G,B.


One of several programming languages in AutoCAD. Based on, but different from, Common LISP. Here is a good online resource here.

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Chargeback (Space)

Chargeback (Space) is a process that determines a department’s financial charge for the actual area it occupies, plus a proportional percentage of the facility’s common area.

This is done in a few steps:

  1. Common area is proportionately distributed among the departments on a floor, in a building, or across the facility site according to the area’s Prorate field. This determines each department’s percentage of facility common area

  2. Each of the department’s assigned areas and its shares of common areas are multiplied by each area’s associated Cost Per Area (square foot or square meter).

  3. For each department, the cost of each assigned area and the cost of the common percentage areas are totaled to determine a department’s financial charge for the total area it uses.

The rationale behind proportionately dividing common areas among departments is that the larger the department, the greater number of personnel it has using common areas; thus, the greater percentage it should pay for using the common area. In addition to distributing common area in this manner, your facility manager may wish to distribute a floor’s remaining area to the departments on the floor, in the building, or in the site. Distributing the cost of remaining area in this manner ensures that all space on a floor is billed for. Typically, a floor’s remaining area is a much smaller amount than its common area.

Please note, you may need to run the following:

  • Update Manual Areas

This is required if you manually enter values to the Room Area Manual Entry ft2 (rm.area_manual) field. This moves the manually entered value into the room area (calculated) field.

  • Update Area totals

Always run the Update Area totals.

  • Chargeback 

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