Multiply Agile Working Benefits: Invest in the Employee Experience

Corporate real estate professionals understand agile working benefits: the company stands to cut property costs significantly by optimizing space and reducing footprint. At the same time, this workplace strategy can help to attract and retain talent, boost engagement and productivity, and even increase innovation within a company.

However, at first your employees and managers may not be fully convinced that the move is in their best interest. After all, you are taking away the private offices and desks that many have worked at for years. Even though they may complain about them, people may be emotionally attached to their workspaces and even feel a sense of ownership. That’s especially true of managers who feel they have earned their private offices and worry that their status within the company is being reduced.

That’s why, to achieve all of the touted agile working benefits, your workplace transformation must do more than simply reduce workpoints. One of the biggest mistakes I see companies make in moving to an agile working strategy is failing to reinvest in the workplace to improve the employee experience. When you are taking something away from employees, it’s essential that you give back workplace features that facilitate productivity, collaboration, and employee well-being.

Gaining agile working benefits: how much to invest?

Your business needs to decide what to reinvest back into the workplace and I would recommend 10% at a minimum. Remember the aim isn’t to just reduce costs, it’s to attract, retain and ENABLE the best people. That’s especially true for knowledge-worker driven businesses. It’s your people who will drive your next innovation and big revenue gains.

Moving to a flexible environment provides the agile working benefits mentioned above, and also helps you pay for your modern workplace along with investing in overall business requirements.

Here are some ways that companies are multiplying their agile working benefits by improving the employee experience.

5 ways to increase agile working benefits by investing in employee experience

1. Use technology to get neighborhood designs right

To get the agile working benefits you expect, each neighborhood fit-out needs to accommodate the needs of the teams that will be using it. That means you need to have a deep understanding of how each group works, what they need to accomplish, the types of spaces needed to do their work, and how many people are using which spaces each day. Asking people what they need is a great start, but doing that is not enough to provide the accurate, timely data you need to improve the employee experience in the workplace.

A better way is to invest in utilization tracking technology (such as IP networks) and a modern workplace management system. Various types of IP networks collect data about how and when your employees are using work spaces. A workplace management system designed for agile working aggregates the sensor data along with your occupancy information, and makes it useful for making workplace design decisions that make employees happier and more productive in the new space.

Here’s an example. Imagine being able to pull up a floor plan with a heatmap that shows you exactly how & when spaces are being utilized throughout the day, week or month? You might find that the phone booths people asked for are rarely used, but people are spending a lot of time gathering in the kitchen. You can then take back the under-used phone booths and convert to a team collaboration lounge.

Find out more about utilization tracking technology and how you can use it to maximize agile working benefits and improve your employee experience: Managing Workplace Utilization.


2. Consider investing in flexible furniture

I want to make one point clear: you can definitely move to an agile working strategy in an existing workspace without spending a lot of money on new furniture. However, investing in furniture that’s easily customizable for everyone’s health and safety needs can be helpful for improving employee experience.

When everyone has an assigned desk, they are able to adjust the space to meet their individual needs and preferences. For example, by setting computer monitors at a certain height and adjusting the chair to a comfortable position. When they no longer have an assigned seat, you need to give them the same ability to customize the furniture. The difference is, they will have to adjust it each time they move to a new workpoint. So, be sure to choose height-adjustable desks, monitor mounts and chairs that are quick and easy to adjust to gain the agile working benefits you’re looking for.

While you’re at it, it’s smart to get some flexible, breakout furniture for collaboration spaces as well. That way, the area can accommodate multiple uses as your business needs change (as they certainly will).

3. Personal storage is a must (for a while)

When people are asked to give up their desks, one of their biggest concerns is, what will I do with my stuff? When they are accustomed to relying on lots of paper files and being surrounded by their family photos and other personal items, doing away with that all at once can be a shock. And if you’re expecting this new environment to make people more productive and collaborative, you won’t get those agile working benefits by forcing too much change all at once. People need some personal storage space… for now.

Here’s a secret you don’t have to tell your employees just yet: they won’t always care so much about personal storage space. As your culture matures, people become less dependent on paper files, and they find other ways to express themselves in the workplace without desk clutter. For now, you must invest in locker space or even individual storage bins so people have easy access to some of the things they are used to having around. But rest assured, after a while those bins will never come out as people become comfortable with the new mobile way of working.

4. Add tools to help people find their way in the agile space

Besides wondering where they will keep their things after the move to agile working, the other issue employees worry about is how they will find a desk and how they will find the colleagues they are used to sitting with. Here’s my advice: you need to challenge their ingrained habits on one hand, while also making it easy for them to move around in the new space. It’s essential to make sure agile working benefits your employees as much as the company.

When I first implemented an agile working strategy, we didn’t yet have the advantage of modern desk booking and wayfinding systems. So I invented a manual way to track people’s locations: they used magnets on a white board to record where they were sitting. However, I saw that people still tended to sit in the same area with the same team members. One of our goals was getting different teams to mingle and collaborate more, which would not happen unless people felt comfortable moving around.

So every Friday we changed things up with a game that encouraged people to sit somewhere new, just to get them to feel more comfortable moving around. But that white board was always there to help them choose a desk or to find a colleague.

Today, of course, modern wayfinding technology makes that process much simpler: people can find a desk, a meeting space or a co-worker in seconds using a kiosk or a mobile app.

Watch this video to see how wayfinding tools work: VIDEO: How Can Wayfinding Technology Shape the Employee Experience?.

5. Implement employee health and well-being programs

Which agile working benefits are critical to you? Does your company want fully engaged employees that produce more, collaborate more, and create innovation that drives business success? Accomplishing that goal is not only about attracting and retaining top talent, but also improving their well-being in the workplace.

That’s why so many companies are implementing health and wellness programs that support and nurture employees so they are at their best. In addition to the agile working benefits, these programs also have the added benefit of reducing absenteeism and lowering healthcare expenses. According to CBRE, 91% of companies they surveyed expect to increase their workforce health and wellness programs.

Investing in workforce health is about much more than adding a gym and removing junk food. Read these related articles about how workplace impacts health and well-being:

Workforce Health: Is Your Workplace Helping or Hurting?
11 Active Design Ideas to Improve Wellbeing in the Workplace

Can traditional IWMS meet the requirements of the modern workplace? Download today.


Desk Sharing: 4 Ways To Gain Leadership Buy In

In 2017, giving up assigned seating and moving toward to desk sharing is a workplace strategy that’s gaining ground worldwide. And for good reason: large corporations stand to save tens of millions in property costs (at the very least) by consolidating and maximizing utilization of office space. When implemented as part of a shift to a modern, mobile work environment, desk sharing strategies (also known as agile working) can also do much more:

  • Attract top talent in an increasingly competitive climate
  • Improve employee experience and engagement in the workplace
  • Boost knowledge worker productivity to grow profitability
  • Enable collaboration, seen as the key to driving the innovation companies need to be successful in the knowledge economy

As a CRE professional, you are probably becoming more aware of these benefits every time you read an industry publication or attend an event. However, convincing your business leaders to get on board with a move to desk sharing can be more challenging than you might imagine.

Here are 4 proven strategies to help you win leadership buy in and ensure a more effective outcome for your workplace transformation.

Desk sharing: 4 strategies for winning management buy in

1. Use cost savings to get the C-suite on board

When it comes to gaining leadership buy in for a new workplace strategies such as desk sharing and modern work spaces, it’s essential to recognize the differing perspectives of executives at various levels in the company. You’ll probably want to start with the C-suite and senior leadership, because top-level endorsement gets your plan approved, moving forward, and promoted throughout the organization.

For senior executives, one of their primary concerns is the financial impact on the company. So focus your pitch for implementing desk sharing on the cost benefits the company can expect to achieve.

The problem is, how can you develop an accurate business case for desk sharing without resorting to generalities? You need a source of truth that can produce concrete evidence to support your ideas, and show real cost savings projections.

When I implemented desk sharing strategies as part of what we termed “smart environments” at Suncorp, we collected a lot of data to provide that evidence. To begin with, you need to know how many people from each team are actually working in the building each day. You can do this manually, but it’s quite time consuming. A better way is to turn to technology: badge readers, lighting sensors, network sensors and Low Energy Bluetooth gather utilization data automatically. This technology enables you to see which groups are using which types of space and with what frequency. You also need a workplace management system that can aggregate data from multiple sources and make it useful for making decisions.

Learn more about this process from this blog: Activity Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

Also, learn more about utilization tracking technologies from this white paper: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Armed with that information, you can easily put together a picture of your current space utilization and how much money is being wasted. Next, develop workplace scenario plans that maximize use of space and allow you to reduce your footprint, significantly reducing spend year after year. Suncorp’s workplace transformation took utilization levels from 50% to 92%, and reduced property costs by millions each year.

Numbers like that will almost certainly convince senior management to approve your desk sharing initiative and promote it to the lower levels as a company mandate. However, a successful outcome for desk sharing also requires winning over managers at lower levels.


2. Managers respond to productivity and engagement benefits

Just getting your desk sharing plan approved is not enough to win acceptance throughout the company. As you well know, many a good plan has failed because of pushback and resistance from the ranks. That’s why it’s in your best interest to help lower level managers understand how this new way of working can work better for them.

Middle managers are responsible for the output of their teams. The way to get their attention is by showing how the modern workplace can improve employee engagement and drive increases in productivity. Time and again, research shows a correlation between availability of workplace options and increased output. Harvard Business Review reports that that 86% of the most highly engaged workers have choices as to how and where they work.


3. Get managers to lead by example

Once managers begin to buy into the desk sharing concept, your next step is to get them to become active role models for their employees. In the process, they experience the benefits first-hand; even those who were unsure initially become fans of the new workplace strategy. Some may even become active evangelists for your cause.

I worked with a manager like this. He was an insurance underwriter who had worked his way up through the company to become a manager of 60 people. He had a large prestigious office, and was mortified when told he would need to give that up and work in a desk sharing neighborhood with his employees as part of the company’s workplace transformation. He felt like he was being stripped of his status in the company. He understood that he needed to lead his team in the new way of working, but he was traumatized at first: he went from a huge office with years of accumulated belongings to one box.

For the first few days, he felt very distracted by all the conversations going on around him, and got little work accomplished. But then he began to participate in those conversations: offering advice and guidance to his employees that improved the outcome of their work. Over time, he grew to see the collaborative benefits of desk sharing and the agile workplace, and became one of the biggest advocates of the program. Today he says he would never go back to the secluded office!

4. Address HR policies for managing dispersed teams

Another challenge with desk sharing is the fact that many managers are used to judging performance by how many hours they see employees sitting at their desks. In an agile environment, they need to adjust their expectations and learn new ways of managing and evaluating the work of their teams.

One practice that may be new and challenging to managers is flexible working, or allowing employees to work at home or elsewhere outside the office. Embracing flexible working is not necessarily required to implement desk sharing. However, many companies are moving toward both at the same time, since the cost benefits can be greater and also help to attract talent.

Here’s some important advice: in the new way of working, don’t use working at home as a reward. It needs to be viewed as an accepted policy across the board. That being said, HR should establish guidelines; for example, each group can set planned days when people are allowed to work off site, with the expectation that if you’re needed in the office at any time, you will be there. Also, the privilege is contingent upon good performance at all times.

Putting formal HR policies into place around flexible working arrangements and desk sharing can go a long way to help managers who may not be experienced with dispersed teams in a mobile work environment.

Learn more: 9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces

In our next blog, we’ll discuss how to get even more benefits from an agile working environment by re-investing some of the cost savings back into the workplace. Don’t miss it!

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.


9 Steps to Implementing Change in the Workplace: Agile Spaces

Strategies for overcoming resistance to adopting agile working practices

In a business climate characterized by constant and accelerating change, dealing with employee resistance to those changes is troublesome at best, and costly in many cases. That’s certainly true when it comes to implementing change in the workplace, especially moving to shared workspaces and adopting agile working practices.

Companies save millions by implementing agile workplaces, and the move is also widely recognized as an effective strategy for attracting talent, improving employee experience and boosting productivity. That’s why Forbes has predicted an increasing demand for more flexible workspaces in 2017.

Download Now: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace Environment

Yet it’s unlikely that all employees will recognize the benefits of agile workspaces beforehand. Many will resist the change, which can result in lower productivity and loss of talent, potentially sabotaging the success of the project. That’s why the right change management program is so essential when implementing change in the workplace.

Implementing change in the workplace: a 12-week change management program

Here’s a proven change management strategy that helped Suncorp successfully implement agile working practices and environments across the company’s entire portfolio in Australia and New Zealand. The move has saved Suncorp millions by reducing property costs, taken the utilization of their portfolio from 50% to 92%, and provided employees with more flexibility, mobility, and a cultural shift toward collaboration.

1. Enlist champions

Research shows that there’s a social aspect to implementing change in the workplace that’s a major factor in employees resisting new initiatives. People worry about the social impacts of the change. For example: will giving up their desks mean they won’t be able to sit with their team members and friends? Will giving up their private office decrease their status within the company?

According to HBR, “the social aspect is what determines the presence or absence of resistance. Just as ignoring this fact is the sure way to trouble, so taking advantage of it can lead to positive results.”

Suncorp used office social networks to improve success with implementing change in the workplace. As their smart environments initiative was implemented floor-by-floor, space champions were recruited from each team that would be impacted by the upcoming move to shared, flexible workspace. Those champions worked as a team to develop a plan that worked for everyone, and they were able to explain the benefits of the change and ease the concerns of their team members.

2. Establish goals

At Suncorp, space champions worked alongside the property team to establish what success would look like for the project. That’s because different teams can adjust to implementing workplace changes at different rates. Here are examples of what the outcome goals might look like:

  • Everyone adheres to the clean desk policy
  • Everyone moves around within the agile space at least once per week

3. Anticipate obstacles

Once goals are established, the next step for implementing change in the workplace is to identify the potential obstacles that could fuel resistance and possibly derail the project. According to Forbes, “The best way to avoid resistance to change? Seek to uncover potential resistance prior to implementing change.”

That’s why Suncorp’s space champions were tasked with communicating the workplace needs of their teams, and bringing to the table any issues they could foresee. Having that information helped the project team work out a realistic plan to minimize resistance and proactively prevent problems.

4. Develop a plan

Implementing change in your organization is slow, incremental steps helps people to adjust and become comfortable in the new flexible environment a little at a time. That’s one reason Suncorp chose to implement agile working in their existing space. Some companies implement agile working for the first time when moving to new space. However, this practice can make it even more difficult for employees to adjust. A new space adds another big new factor into the equation and forces people into making the shift to a new way of working all at once.

Instead, Suncorp developed a plan for implementing change in the workplace that entailed small shifts over a 2-month period, with the specific changes determined by each project team.

5. Address technology issues

For agile working practices to work for the more mobile workforce, it’s essential that related technology issues are addressed when implementing change in the workplace. For example, will people use desktop workstations or laptops with docking stations? Telephones with login capability are usually needed to help employees move around with ease and still be contactable in an agile space. You may also need to step up IT processes and expectations: it may no longer be acceptable to take days to repair equipment problems in an agile environment.

Also, how will the property team determine the right seat ratios for each neighborhood? The best results come from implementing utilization tracking and workplace management technology to get the facts about how people are using space. You can learn more about that technology from this informative resource: Managing Workplace Utilization.

Also, read this topic to learn more about using data to design the right agile workspace for each business team: Activity-Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All.

6. Address health and safety issues

When people will be sharing desks, you may need to purchase new furniture to accommodate everyone’s needs, such as height-adjustable desks and chairs, as well as adjustable monitor stands or mounts. Suncorp found that it was helpful to train employees in advance on appropriate etiquette for desk sharing to ensure a sanitary environment, such as not eating at their desk and leaving it clean for the next person’s use.

7. Implement changes week-by-week

With a plan for implementing workplace change agreed upon, that plan was communicated to those involved and implemented week by week. For example, these are some of the steps that might be needed:

Week 1: Clean out the office space to get rid of unnecessary items and paper.
Week 2: Establish central storage for files.
Week 3: Establish personal storage space, such as lockers or bins.
Week 4: Everyone swaps seats with a neighbor, so each person can figure out what they need at their desk to get work done.

By week 8, employees are ready to go live with the agile workplace, and the goals established in step 2 should be met.

8. Make policy changes and train management for agile working practices

Implementing change in the workplace can be especially difficult for middle managers, who may have little experience managing a dispersed team. It takes training to change their longstanding expectations of seeing team members at their desks all day. Managers need to be taught to evaluate team members based on the results they produce. Also, it’s important for them to model agile working practices themselves in order to empower their team to adopt the changes.

More on this issue to come in next week’s blog.

9. Provide post-implementation support

Even when you properly prepare employees in advance for implementing change in the workplace, don’t skimp on adequate post-implementation support. After a move to agile working, it takes a full 12 months for the new way of working to be fully embedded in the culture. Empower your space champions to solve problems that arise within their teams.

The property team should also be monitoring the use of agile space at all times, and jumping in to proactively address and issues that are popping up. Here’s an interesting thing that happens over time as the culture matures: everyone wants to work in the cool new space! That can lead to areas becoming overcrowded, lines for lifts, increased consumables and other problems. Using technology to monitor what’s happening can mitigate issues and keep the space working well for the business.

Outcome achieved by Suncorp

These are some of the impressive results Suncorp has achieved with implementing change in the workplace and providing agile working environments:

  • Productivity up 10%
  • 91% positive enablement response
  • 10% reduction in voluntary turnover
  • Expanded access to high quality, diverse talent (4x more applicants)
  • 89% would recommend the new workplace

Next week, we’ll address how to gain leadership buy-in for moving to agile working practices. Don’t miss it!

Can traditional IWMS meet the requirements of the modern workplace? Download today.


Activity-Based Workplace Design: Why One Size Does Not Fit All

What are your goals for implementing activity-based workplace design in your company? If you are like most organizations beginning to move to this new way of working, you are certainly looking to reduce your footprint and your property costs. At the same time, you may also be tasked with delivering “destination” workplaces that enable collaboration and innovation, attract talent, boost productivity and improve employee experience.

When companies begin to move toward agile environments and activity-based workplace design, there is often a misconception that you can simply remove 20 percent of the desks from each department. If your goal was only to reduce costs, that might be an acceptable strategy. But given the need to improve the quality of the workplace and employee experience, you need a better way to create work spaces that meet the needs of your teams.

Activity-based workplace design: using data to drive your transformation

When companies begin to transition to agile and ABW spaces, it’s a big shift for employees and you’ll almost certainly experience resistance to the change. And for good reason: people maybe commuting 45 to 60 minutes (or more) to get to the office, and they are worried about traveling all that way and finding no desks available. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you get the seat-to-people ratios right, and provide the spaces people need to do their jobs. You can’t do that based on assumptions or guesswork.

Related article: Top 3 Challenges of Moving to an Agile Work Environment

To create an activity-based workplace design that actually works for your business, you need to understand how each specific group is currently using space. That means taking the time to gather actual utilization information (for each individual team) over a period of time, minimally 6 to 8 weeks.


The reason for this is simple: different groups in your organization have varying needs for space. For example, an accounting group or a call center might have 90 percent of the staff in the office at any given time. However, a sales team might have only 40 percent of the staff sitting at a desk in the office each day. Your teams also use different types of spaces. The sales group might need small private areas for phone calls, and multiple meeting rooms that accommodate 3-4 people. A software development team might work best in a cluster of open workstations or a team table, with a larger conference room for team meetings.

That’s why your activity-based workplace design must include custom “neighborhoods” designed specifically for the tasks your teams need to accomplish on a day to day basis. One or more teams will be assigned to each neighborhood, and you will develop different seat-to-people ratios for each neighborhood. For example, you might aim for a ratio of 12 people to every 10 seats for the accounting neighborhood, but a ratio of 18 people to every 10 seats for the sales group. Each neighborhood will be designed with the types of spaces needed by the teams using it.

So how do you go about collecting the information about how (and how often) people use space? Read on to learn about two ways to get the data you need to develop an effective activity-based workplace design.

Gathering data the manual way

If you don’t have an automated mechanism in place to track space utilization, it’s possible to do so manually with spreadsheets. For a period of at least 6 weeks, you’ll need to record how many people from each team spend time in the office each day. That information will provide the basis of your seat ratios for each team.

Obviously this effort will require the cooperation of many people, especially in a large corporation, and is time consuming to say the least. For one thing, the number crunching alone will take a while and you’ll need to wait for the results. There’s also another limitation: you’re going to have to do extra work to determine which types of spaces people are using. For example: how much time are sales people spending at their desks making calls, versus in conference rooms collaborating with team members or participating in online presentations with prospects?

To get your activity-based workplace design right, you’ll want more granular intelligence that’s easier to produce and keep up to date. Using workplace technology is a much better solution.

Using workplace technology to gather intelligence

Workplace technology is becoming an essential strategic planning tool for developing and managing activity-based workplace design.

Badge readers, lighting sensors, network sensors and Low Energy Bluetooth gather utilization data automatically, enabling you to see which groups are using which types of space and with what frequency. These technologies are getting both simpler and more sophisticated all the time: some can track a specific person to a specific desk, and you can even get light-powered sensors that work without wires or batteries. However, it’s important to know that each type of technology has its strengths and limitations.

In all likelihood, you’ll want to deploy a combination of utilization tracking technologies to gather all the data you need to make decisions about activity-based workplace design.

Learn more about utilization tracking technology from this informative reference guide: Managing Workplace Utilization.

The next challenge is aggregating data from different sources and producing useful reports. For that, you’ll need workplace management software that acts as a central utilization platform, pulling together utilization data from multiple technologies. Instead of waiting for analysts to crunch numbers, you get real-time reports at your fingertips. You can easily roll up or drill down as needed to see the required level of granularity. And you can even view heatmaps that let you see what’s happening up-to-the-minute in a given area.

Armed with this level of intelligence, you can create the right mix of different space types and the right ratios of seats to people for each neighborhood or business unit. What’s more, you can also track the effectiveness over time so you can make adjustments to your activity-based workplace design as your business changes.

Related article: The New Workplace Space Utilization Metrics You Need to Know About


Leveraging data to gain buy-in

As we mentioned previously (and you probably already know!) one of the biggest challenges of transforming your workplace to an activity-based workplace design is convincing the business that your plan will work. Resistance to just about any kind of change is a given, and this change is a big one.

Being able to share accurate and detailed information about how each of your teams is using space is a valuable way to gain their trust. People are understandably concerned about having a space to work, and having the right space to accomplish daily tasks. When you can show them indisputable evidence about how many people are really in the office every day, anxiety about sharing space is reduced. Plus, people tend to come along for the ride when you share how much money the company stands to save (and then reinvest back into the business) with your plan. Not to mention the cool new features of the activity-based workplace design that improve employee experience, boost productivity and attract talent.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll address how to overcome obstacles to implementing activity-based workplace design and agile work environments:

  • Overcoming resistance with change management strategies
  • Gaining leadership buy in
  • Improving agile working benefits by reinvesting cost savings in the workplace

Don’t miss it!

Download a guide to creating an activity based working strategy today.


5 Tips for Managing Your Flexible Working Policy

The following is a guest blog written by Alison Dahlman of Condeco Software, leading providers of occupancy sensing and digital signage technology, as well as room and desk booking tools. Condeco works with the world’s most progressive brands to reconfigure and maximize their dynamic workplaces.

Flexible working can be a huge win for many businesses – according to a survey by Vodafone, 58% of US companies reportedly saw an increase in profits after introducing a flexible working policy. There are big gains to be made in employee performance too – 86% of companies surveyed saw an increase in productivity.

Make sure your resources don’t become idle. Instead, create an agile organization by downloading Condeco’s white paper here.

While the benefits are clear, a flexible working policy needs to be managed effectively to have the maximum impact. Below are five tips to help manage your flexible working policy for the best results.

5 Tips for Managing Your Flexible Working Policy

Keep Clear Processes and Accurate Records

Accuracy should never be underrated in business, especially when it comes to workplace management. When implementing or updating a flexible working policy, clear communication is key – ensure everyone is aware of all processes and able to ask questions, should they have any. Keeping correct and up-to-date records is important, too, especially when it comes to tracking working hours. Consider how best you can track and record this data for your employees.

Make Data Accessible on the Move

A large part of flexible working happens on the move – whether it is during the morning commute or between meetings. You want to give your employees the ability to seamlessly access their work while on the go, so be sure to investigate the best mobile tech solutions for your business. For example, cloud technology and mobile-compatible systems will give your employees the ultimate flexibility.

Manage Your Office Space and Tech

Mobile software isn’t the only technology to consider with your flexible working policy – your office space should be designed to complement it, too. Consider having solutions like desk booking software or digital desk signage, and ensure that your workspace has breakout areas that will help employees feel adaptable in their working style.

Encourage Communication and Collaboration

While communication is undoubtedly important in any business, it becomes vital when a flexible working policy is in place. Ensure you make time for both face-to-face and virtual meetings and discussions. Consider unified communications software, which provides more flexibility while maintaining the ability to collaborate effectively.

Don’t Just Default to Remote Working

When flexible working is introduced, it can be easy for many people to simply see it as another name for remote working, or telecommuting. While working from home can absolutely be a part of your flexible working policy, without office attendance and face-to-face collaboration, your business may lose some of the positive social effects of working together.

Related topics:
5 Ways to Get Management Buy-In For Flexible Working Arrangements
8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace

[Original Post]

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Serraview Joins Privacy Shield Certified Companies

Serraview Earns Privacy Shield & TRUSTe Privacy Certifications

Serraview is proud to announce that we have been officially joined the list of Privacy Shield certified companies, after fulfilling the self-certification requirements set by the U.S. Department of Commerce. We have also recently earned the TRUSTe Enterprise Privacy Certification.

“These privacy certifications provide an additional comfort level for our customers,” said Serraview co-founder Ian Morley. “Serraview clients have even more assurance that our company is fully committed to personal privacy and protecting their data.”

What is Privacy Shield?

Privacy Shield is a joint effort between the European Commission and the U.S. Department of Commerce, which enables the safe transfer of personal data (such as HR and payroll information) from Europe to the United States. The new mechanism complies with more stringent European data protection laws, replacing the Safe Harbor privacy framework that was ruled inadequate in 2015. As global businesses rely on international transfer of personal information for many internal operations, the EU and US worked quickly to develop improved standards.

The new Privacy Shield framework strengthens protection for individuals by increasing obligations for Privacy Shield certified companies in the handling of personal data.

What is required to earn Privacy Shield certification?

Privacy Shield certified companies are required to address the following privacy principles in the handling of both HR and non-HR data.

  • Notice: Publish a privacy policy including the organization’s participation in Privacy Shield as well as details about how data is handled and an individual’s associated rights.
  • Choice: Offer individuals the choice to opt-out of sharing their data in some situations, and explicitly obtain permission to disclose certain sensitive data.
  • Accountability for onward transfer: Follow rules for transferring data to a third-party acting as a controller or an agent.
  • Security: Take measures to protect data from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction.
  • Data integrity and purpose limitation: Limit data to that which is relevant for processing.
  • Access: Provide individuals with access to their personal information and allow them to correct, amend, or delete that information.
  • Recourse, enforcement and liability: Provide independent recourse mechanisms for individuals and follow rules for enforcement of the Privacy Shield principles.

Privacy Shield provides a self-certification process where companies can review their own privacy management practices according to these principles. After gaining approval, a Privacy Shield certified company’s commitment to complying with the Privacy Shield framework is enforceable under U.S. law.

TRUSTe Enterprise Privacy Certification

In addition to completing the self-certification process required by Privacy Shield, Serraview took an additional step and engaged a third-party (TRUSTe) to conduct an independent review of our privacy policy and practices.

TRUSTe Enterprise Standard’s comprehensive assessment analyzed Serraview’s privacy practices against globally recognized privacy frameworks, including FIPPs, OECD, GAPP, state and local frameworks such as CalOPPA, self-regulatory and industry best practices, and more. TRUSTe also looked for privacy risks and provided detailed recommendations. The service also provides ongoing guidance related to privacy policy.

You’ll see our certification evidenced by the “TRUSTe Certified Privacy” badge on our digital privacy policy page.

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Online Collaboration Tools for the Mobile Workforce

Today’s workforce is increasingly mobile: working from home, working on the go, and moving around in a large corporate workplace. That’s especially true in an agile environment. At the same time, enterprises are recognizing the need to break down silos and increase collaboration in order to boost creative thinking and innovation. What’s the solution to this seeming paradox? Choosing effective online collaboration tools and pairing them with a well-designed workplace.

Start with a collaborative workplace environment

Agile and activity-based work environments are ideal for encouraging collaboration, because they are designed to bring people together who might not have the opportunity to work together otherwise. In these new flexible work spaces, people choose their seat each day (and throughout the day) based on the work they need to do or who they need to work with, rather than sitting at an assigned desk. The changing environment creates more interaction, and workplace includes more casual meeting areas designed for impromptu group work sessions.

Designing effective activity-based workspaces, however, is not a simple matter of throwing in cushy chairs and a café. It requires a deep understanding of your workforce and how people use space, and that intelligence must extend down to the team level. How do you get that information? By implementing utilization tracking technology combined with intelligent workplace management tools. Only then can you create spaces that effectively encourage collaboration, since they are designed for the way each team works most effectively.

Learn more:
8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace
Managing Workplace Utilization

Once you have created the right environments for your business teams, then you need the right online collaboration tools so they can work together within a large corporate campus, as well as with remote team members.

Online collaboration tools can take many forms. They range from enterprise-wide social media networks to tools for specialized tasks such as design collaboration or content management. Here we will focus on some of the common needs that just about every large organization has when it comes to enabling collaboration among a mobile workforce: managing communication, project management, and video chat.

Online collaboration tools for managing communication

Slack or HipChat

When you need real-time communication between team members to keep everyone on the same page, choose online collaboration tools like Slack or HipChat.

According to Atlassian, business people receive 304 emails each week, check their email 36 times in an hour, and spend 16 minutes refocusing after handling email. That’s a serious drain on productivity. Online collaboration tools like Slack and HipChat make it simpler and easier for team members to chat and stay up to speed in real time.

According to PC Magazine, “Many organizations of all sizes have turned to online collaboration tools to get their employees off email and back to work. In fact, one company that deployed a suite of collaboration tools and made a concerted effort decreased email by 60 percent over three years.”

However, these online collaboration tools do much more than exchange text messages. They store messages in an organized system that makes it easy to find prior conversations for reference. You can tag keywords in a message and also tag team members who might not be in the conversation so they get notified.

The tool for you depends on your needs: Slack integrates with many other tools to automate actions. HipChat provides functionality for screen sharing and video calls, and includes some useful plug-ins.

Online collaboration tools for project management

Trello or Asana

For a large organization with remote employees working together, managing projects and staying on top of progress can be a daunting task. That problem is magnified when projects are fast-paced and when employees are frequently shifted to different teams to meet changing business needs.

Online collaboration tools such as Trello and Asana help remote teams organize and track the progress of projects down to the task level.

For those teams who tend to have sticky notes all over their desks and cover whiteboards with them in brainstorming sessions, Trello may be a great fit. This tool uses a simple card-based system to keep track of individual items. Each “card” can be assigned to customized categories, assigned to a person, and given a due date.

If your organization has large, complex projects involving many people and tasks, Asana might be a great project management tool for you. Employees can see all the projects they are assigned to, as well as the tasks assigned to them sorted by priority.

The best part? Both of these online collaboration tools have excellent apps for the mobile workforce to keep track of project tasks.

Online collaboration tools for video chat OR Google Hangouts

Sometimes seeing people’s faces can really enhance communication. Emojis can only go so far to communicate the subtleties of body language. When you need to talk face-to-face with remote staff, as well as third-party consultants or other contributing team members located elsewhere, you need online collaboration tools for video chat.

Of course you know about Skype. But there are other great options you may not have considered, including and Google Hangouts. is an amazingly simple app that lets you video chat with up to 8 people at a time (12 with the paid version). People don’t have to register or download anything. And you can even screenshare.

For bigger teams, Google Hangouts beats Skype, since it allows you to video conference with up to 100 people at the same time! And of course it integrates with Gmail.

One more handy collaboration tool: wayfinding apps

In a large corporate facility, the sheer size and complexity of the place can be a hindrance to collaboration all by itself. Finding appropriate meeting spaces, and finding colleagues to collaborate with, is a big time-waster.

In an agile environment with smart utilization tracking technology in place, you can implement another smart collaboration tool: wayfinding systems. These online collaboration tools are powered by real-time utilization data, so your workforce can easily find an available room or where a colleague is located. Best of all? They can do so in seconds using a mobile app. Talk about a better employee experience!

To see how it works, watch this wayfinding video demo.

Download creating an activity based working strategy today.


Emerging CRE Tech for Workplace Space Optimization

CRE tech and the digital ecosystem

In a recent report, JLL and Unwork describe the “digital ecosystem” that has emerged in recent years from quantum leaps in computing power, billions of smart devices, pervasive connectivity and seemingly limitless quantities of data. Without question, these technological advances and connectivity will continue to grow exponentially in the years to come, transforming the way businesses work.

That’s why, given the digital ecosystem, workplaces need to provide additional value for organizations that was never anticipated in years past. Pressure to reduce property costs will remain a given, but at the same time CRE organizations must optimize workplaces to enable innovation, attract talent, improve employee wellbeing and workplace experience.

It’s a tall order to say the least. Since technology has been the driver behind these new demands, it’s only natural that organizations are turning to CRE tech to help them re-imagine their workplaces.

Emerging CRE tech is not only changing the way organizations manage space optimization, but also why they are doing it and the wider impact it can have on the business.

Workplace space optimization: it’s not just about cost savings anymore

As technology transforms business operations, what does the modern workplace need to look like? Office spaces are now becoming the venue where people come together (both physically and remotely–again enabled by technology) to collaborate. The old-style cubicle farms with a sea of employees doing their own thing is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Instead, employees along with partners and contingent workers come together to share and combine their talents to create the new products, services and ideas the company needs to remain competitive.

As a result, the goal of space optimization is no longer about cramming as many desks as possible into a space to reduce property costs. As worker mobility increases, as many as 60 percent (or more) of those desks sit empty in the traditional office space. Space optimization, and the CRE tech needed to support it, is now focused on creating dynamic spaces that meet the needs of the modern workforce and match the way they work in the digital ecosystem.


CRE tech drives space optimization with utilization data

Here’s one huge change that’s transforming offices: the rise of agile working spaces. These environments do away with assigned desks in favor of more flexible spaces where workers choose to work based on what they need to accomplish (and the people they need to work with) at any given time. These spaces are increasingly popular because they are designed for new ways of working, while also reducing space costs at the same time.

Learn more: Agile Working Benefits Moving Beyond the Dollars

Planning and implementing agile working spaces requires a significant shift in mindset, along with new CRE tech for capturing and analyzing data.

The mindset shift is moving companies away from tracking occupancy (bodies to seats) and traditional metrics (cost per square foot) to measuring utilization, or how space is actually being used. That data is essential for planning a new agile space fit-out, and for understanding the effectiveness of the new space: how well is it meeting the needs of the workforce?

Here are some emerging CRE tech essentials for meeting modern workplace goals in the digital ecosystem.

CRE TECH: Sensor technology

Creating agile environments requires a deep understanding of your workforce, down to the team level, and what they need in the workplace to meet their objectives. Those needs are going to vary greatly, depending on many factors, including:

  • The complexity and diversity of the team’s work
  • Need for the team to respond quickly to changing priorities and initiatives
  • The amount of collaboration needed and desired
  • The makeup of the team: mix of FTE, partners and contingent workers
  • Physical locations of team members

Sensors and other types of utilization tracking Technology allows you to track how different teams use space, not only over a month or even a day, but even throughout the course of the day. That data helps you plan fit-outs with the right mix of spaces for each team, and track the effectiveness over time so you can make adjustments as things change.

There’s a wide variety of technology available to collect this data: desk sensors, lighting sensors, beacons, ID badges and network sensors. Deployment of this technology is getting easier all the time: you can now get light-powered sensors that work without wires or batteries.
Learn more about the available technologies: Managing Workplace Utilization

CRE TECH: Business intelligence platforms

If you’ve looked into utilization tracking technology, you may already realize that you’ll need a mix of different technologies to collect all the different types of data you need to make decisions. Then the challenge becomes aggregating data from different sources into one business intelligence tool that makes sense of all of it.

A best-in-class workplace management system provides that central source of truth for all your CRE data, including utilization data from multiple sources. Here are a few essential features to look:

  • Ability to aggregate a variety of data sources to provide actionable intelligence reports
  • Heatmaps that let you see what’s happening up-to-the-minute in a given area
  • Dashboards showing real-time utilization data
  • Ability to roll up or drill down as needed to see the required level of granularity

CRE TECH: Next generation space management

Now that you’re powered by utilization data and smart tools to help you make space optimization decisions, you need modern space planning tools to act on those decisions.

Here are a few things that set the leaders apart when it comes to CRE tech for modern space management:

1. Support for neighborhoods and unassigned seating

Many older space planning systems (provided by traditional IWMS providers) are designed to support only occupancy or “bodies to seats.” That severely limits you in a modern flexible environment. Instead, look for modern CRE tech with the ability to assign a team to a neighborhood and manage ratios in an agile environment.

2. Native integration with utilization technologies

Your CRE organization needs to be as agile as your environment (and the teams you support). So if you need to go through a lot of manual data manipulation to get answers from your utilization tracking, that’s going to cost you both in time and money. Modern CRE tech tools are built on standard platforms that can integrate seamlessly with the utilization tracking technology you choose.

3. Features for building business relationships & reducing CRE workload

Imagine if you could get your business units to voluntarily update their team information? Impossible? Not at all with modern CRE tech that makes it quick & easy for business units to update their CRE data. Why would they do so? Because in turn, you can give them tools that make their job easier and improve employee experience.

Learn more: The 8 Superpowers You Need for Office Space Management

The best part? You can use those CRE tech tools to build better working relationships, provide better service to your teams, earn the trust of leaders, and win a seat at the strategic planning table.

Download your copy of Workplace Management Software Buyer’s Guide today.


Workplace Technology for Improving Employee Experience

Have you been conducting research to learn more about satisfaction levels among your workforce, like employee surveys, for example? If so, then you’re like many large corporations that are beginning to understand the benefits of happy, enabled employees:

  • Higher levels of engagement, leading to increased productivity and innovation
  • Improved employee retention levels
  • Employees act as evangelists for attracting top talent

If the results of those satisfaction surveys are not as positive as you’d like, it’s time to learn about steps you can take for improving employee experience using workplace technology.

Satisfaction isn’t enough: your goal should be improving employee experience

If your goal is to increase satisfaction levels among your employees, you may not be not going far enough to achieve the results you’re after. “Satisfaction” is really only about meeting your employees’ current expectations. Even when people get what they expect, don’t forget that expectations may be low. Meeting expectations is not necessarily enough to get them to perform in extraordinary ways. It might be barely enough to maintain the status quo.

Instead, shoot for the following goals related to improving employee experience:

Generate positive emotions. Create workplace experiences that help employees feel valued, build team camaraderie and cohesion, and show workers how their efforts contribute to company success.

Create delight throughout the workday.
 Moments of delight tend to be memorable, and color people’s attitudes and opinions long afterward. They don’t even have to be related to work!

Make things easy. Take steps to remove obstacles, time wasters and frustration that get in the way of work performance.
Read on for some ideas about how you can use workplace technology to impact all of these goals.


7 workplace technology ideas for improving employee experience

There’s a reason smartphones have revolutionized communication; they help to accomplish all 3 of the goals mentioned above. They make tasks quick & easy, create moments of delight and connect people to generate positive feelings. Workplace technology is well suited to helping you accomplish your employee experience goals. Here are 7 valuable ideas.

1. Intelligent wayfinding tools

What’s more frustrating than wasting time trying to find a space to work?

If your company has implemented agile workspaces with unassigned seating, how are your employees finding spaces to work? Desk booking systems can be frustrating, because people are forced to make their plans in advance. How often do your plans change from day to day and throughout the day? As a result, desks and conference rooms sit empty while others struggle to find what they need.

Instead, implement a wayfinding system with real-time intelligence that uses utilization tracking technology to sense which spaces are currently in use and which are available. Employees can simply take a moment to use a kiosk by the elevator, or open an app on their smartphone to find a work space in seconds. Even better: use the same technology to make it simple to find other people in the workplace, encouraging collaboration and teamwork.

Want to see how this workplace technology works? Watch this wayfinding video demo.

And, get this informative guide that explains the utilization technology you need to power modern wayfinding tools: Managing Workplace Utilization.


2. Connectivity everywhere

The idea of work/life balance is becoming a thing of the past: today it’s all about work/life integration. People want the flexibility and the ability to work when, where and how they need to. That means it’s up to you to enable that ability, by making it easy for people to connect with workplace technology from anywhere.

Remote connectivity is essential, but it’s just as important to make sure you have consistent, high-quality connectivity everywhere in your workplace. For example, don’t forget Wi-Fi on the grounds of your campus, in the cafeteria and even the gym.

3. Smart parking

At large corporate campuses, parking can be a frustrating problem for employees. They may waste as much as 20-30 minutes each day driving around a huge lot or garage looking for a parking spot. Talk about motivation to avoid coming into the office!

Instead, why not provide a moment of delight each day using workplace technology for smart parking? When people arrive, they are immediately directed to an empty parking spot. The “cool factor” is sure to win you major brownie points! Not to mention improving employee experience as they gain back time every morning.

4. Biometric security

While badge reader technology can be useful, it can also be a pain for employees to wear or carry around cards or tags everywhere they go. Biometric security is workplace technology that makes it easy for employees to move around throughout the day. Instead of swiping a card, you can use facial recognition, finger or handprint, iris recognition, or even voice recognition.

5. Automated café

Here’s another way to provide moments of delight for your employees every day: having their favorite drink ready and waiting at an automated office café. No more need to wait in long lines for their coffee, or even to make it themselves. Just pop in, grab and go. Talk about making it easy!

6. Meeting experience technology

There are a couple of different problems employees experience when it comes to workplace technology for meetings. First: things don’t always work as they expect, causing wasted time and frustration. Second, companies often make the mistake of providing meeting technology only in conference rooms. That practice flies in the face of the previous recommendation about providing connectivity everywhere.

Tackle the first issue head-on by committing to seamless and easy-to-use technology for meeting experiences, as well as fast support when needed. Doing so can go a long way to reducing stress in the workplace, enabling team communication, and improving employee experience.

Next, make meeting technology readily available for those impromptu brainstorming sessions or team status check-ins that may not take place in a meeting room. Mobile meeting technology is becoming a must-have for the collaborative office environment.

Learn more: Online Collaboration Tools for the Mobile Workforce

7. Personal temperature control apps

One of the biggest complaints people have about their workplace is the temperature! When they are constantly too hot or too cold, they are not only distracted and less productive, but they also feel a loss of control that makes them feel undervalued. The tough part of this issue is the time it takes facilities staff to field and respond to complaints about office temperature.

The good news is, you can implement workplace technology that makes it easy for every employee to share their office temperature experience using a mobile app. Even better, that app is tied to your building automation that can respond by adjusting HVAC systems. It’s an easy way for people to feel listened to, while taking workload off your FM team at the same time.

Implementing workplace technology can be one of the most successful strategies when it comes to improving employee experience.

Download your copy of Workplace Management Software Buyer’s Guide today.


3 Components of the High Performance Workplace

According to JLL’s Global Corporate Real Estate Survey, more than 75% of companies have high expectations for CRE to improve productivity in the workplace. That number increases to 85% for companies with more than 50,000 employees. As the global economy becomes more competitive, building a high performance workplace is becoming a higher priority.

In an effort to meet those expectations for effective workspace, CRE organizations are moving beyond reducing space and cost, and taking on initiatives to transform the workplace experience. Fueling that shift is mounting evidence that the quality of the workplace impacts a company’s ability to produce and innovate.

The questions many are asking are, what makes a high performance workplace? And how can it better support a productive and innovative workforce?

Performance, innovation and workplace design

Workplace design firm Gensler’s 2016 Workplace Survey of over 4000 workers found that the “top innovators” (as measured by their Innovation Index) have two things in common:

  1. They provide well-designed workplaces with diverse spaces for collaboration and for individual focus. They also had access to amenities such as cafeterias, outdoor spaces, gyms and child care facilities.
  2. Their workplace culture empowers employees to choose where and when to work based on their needs and the work they need to accomplish.

That’s why so many companies are choosing to invest in better quality workspace design, especially activity-based work environments (ABW). This type of high performance workplace design gives employees a major advantage: more choices about where and how they accomplish their work.

That choice drives not only better individual productivity, but also increases in collaboration and creative thinking that lead to innovation.

However, it’s important to realize that building the right environment is only half the job. Transforming a space to a high performance workplace means developing a company culture that truly embraces flexibility.

Recent global research by Vodafone found that 75% of companies worldwide have adopted flexible working policies, with extremely positive results:

  • 61% reported increased profits
  • 83% reported productivity improvements
  • 58% believed the organization’s reputation improved

3 components of the high performance workplace

Leesman is a global independent research firm that helps organizations understand how their employees work and how well their spaces support productivity. Their extensive research has identified 3 key components of the high performance workplace. Understanding these factors can help organizations to develop activity-based workplaces that work better for employees and produce better results for the company.

1. Activity complexity

When designing any workplace, it’s essential to understand the tasks or activities that employees will need to perform there. This is even more critical for activity-based workspaces. The dollars invested in the new fit out will pay off with a high performance workplace only if the mix of spaces meets the needs of workers.

The more variation in the types of activities performed in a workspace, the more benefit workers will get from having spaces specifically designed for the work they need to do. Understanding this can help CRE organizations prioritize areas for moving to activity-based working.

Here’s an example. An accounting department might have little variation in the work they do each day; most of it is individual focused work at a computer. This group may not gain as much from moving to an activity-based workplace. However, a marketing team with more varied daily activities, like team brainstorming sessions, remote conference calls, and individual focused work, will benefit much more.

Before designing a space for ABW, make sure you understand the level of activity complexity within the groups that will be using each neighborhood. What’s the easiest way to accomplish that? Ask them! Develop relationships with your business units that build their trust in you, and provide tools that make it easy for them to provide the data you need to develop a high performance workplace.

Learn more: CRE Team Structure: Why Relationship Management Is Key

2. Variety of settings for work

Once you understand the level of activity complexity for a team, you’re in the best position to support that complexity by providing the right variety of settings for work.

Depending on the needs of the team in each neighborhood, your high performance workplace might need to provide open plan seating for team work, comfortable lounges for brainstorming, a café for encouraging impromptu collaboration, as well as more private and quiet areas for focus work. But getting the balance right is important, especially when the ABW area is also agile, where there is no longer a seat assigned to each person.

How do you get the ratios correct for each neighborhood? By implementing utilization tracking technology along with modern workplace management software that allows you to see who is using each type of space and when. Armed with a precise understanding of how each team uses space, and tools like heatmaps that let you visualize that data, you can create a high performance workplace that enables each team to perform their best work.

Find out more about utilization tracking technology with this guide to: Managing Workplace Utilization.


3. Change management through culture

Simply building a new high performance workplace environment is not enough to get people to collaborate more, or change their work habits enough to impact performance. You can’t rely on any workspace design alone to do the job of changing an organization’s culture.

Your company’s policies must fully support flexibility, not as a privilege, but as an expected way of working. Then you must deliver change management before, during and after implementation of the new work environment to shift people’s mindsets and habits.

For example, managers must learn to measure performance by output rather than by hours sitting at a desk. And workers may need to be given clear “permission” to move around during the day and take advantage of spaces designed for their tasks. Only then will the new environment be used as designed, and become the high performance workplace you intended.

Learn more: 8 Tips to Encourage Collaboration in the Agile Workplace

Can traditional IWMS meet the requirements of the modern workplace? Find out today.