Why Employees Shouldn’t Be Worried About Location Aware Apps

There is a great scene in Season 4 of Parks and Recreation when Ron Swanson learns about “cookies” and Aubrey Plaza’s character winds up showing him Google Earth (spoiler alert: he throws his computer in the trash).

Most of us are more tech-savvy than Ron Swanson. We know that a lot of our personal data exists on the internet. We accept that fact because we get huge value from online services and communities. We actively allow mobile apps access to our location for a huge range of services:

  • Navigation (Google Maps, iMaps, Uber)
  • Social Connections (Find My Friends, Tinder)
  • Finding Services (Yelp, OpenTable)
  • Accessing Promotions (FourSquare, Facebook)

But when it comes to our work lives, should employees be worried about location-aware apps?

The key to location awareness is this: improve experience by reducing effort. In all of the above cases, location is providing real value to the consumer: improving safety, saving time, providing choices or saving money. Google Maps was so enormously successful because it made printing and studying physical maps obsolete. Uber took the guesswork out of finding an available taxi and removed all effort from payments.

So when employers are considering implementing location-aware apps, they need to ask: does it pass the What’s-in-it-for-Me (WIIFM) test?

Overcome objections by focusing on WIIFM

In the workplace, the most common objections to location awareness stem from a fear of micromanagement. If my employer knows my location, does that mean they are tracking my every movement? Will I get in trouble for a long lunch break? How exactly are they using this data?

While these are genuine concerns, workplaces are increasingly recognizing the important of outcome based measurement. The trend in workplaces is towards recognition of the importance of workplace engagement to building and retaining happy, effective employees. The emphasis is shifting from metrics like minutes spent on deliverables (legal & accounting) and calls answered (contact centers) to outcomes like customer and employee satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

In consequence, the rise of location-aware workplace apps more commonly supports the employee value proposition: providing tools to protect and empower workers. At we see 3 key value propositions for location-awareness in workforce apps:

1. Safety and/or Security: workforces have long deployed solutions to protect worker safety or security – security guards posted at entrances, access cards restricting entrance to a building, face recognition cameras, etc. So, tracking for safety and security purposes is a value that is well-understood by workers in many industries. Location-aware apps are an extension of existing solutions using newer, potentially more effective technologies.

2. Convenience: we love things that make our lives easier and, in today’s on-demand society, the definition of “hard” can simply come down to too much time spent searching or too many clicks. Location-aware apps make workers lives easier by presenting information at the right time and place.

Take for example office hoteling apps. Just 5 years ago, hoteling involved booking a desk or office in advance, checking-in on a computer terminal and searching for your assigned desk. With location-awareness, hoteling now involves simply walking in, seeing an open space and sitting down. Check-in and phone routing can happen without the employee ever needing to do a thing.

3. Experience/ Engagement: according to a recent Gallup poll, 70% of workers say that they are not engaged at work. But when they are, they are 87% more likely to stay with the company. Common drives for engagement include flexibility, training, collaboration and strong community. And, with workforces that are increasingly distributed, mobile apps provide a huge opportunity to promote flexibility and collaboration while maintaining a sense of community.

Location-aware apps extend the mobile proposition to employees by reducing the effort to collaborate and access company services from their mobile. Location-based messaging to connect with nearby colleagues, employee feedback surveys and at-your-desk services are just some of the ways innovative companies are using location-aware apps to attract and retain talent.

Avoid miscommunication when making the change

Best intentions aside, companies can often fall down in implementation through miscommunication and misunderstanding. The quickest way to incite a backlash among employees, is to make a change without telling them. The Daily Telegraph discovered this when they installed sensors to detect space utilization in their offices. While the expressed purpose of the sensors may have been to create a better work environment (and the value to executives was well understood), the fact that employees were not notified in advance created the sense of something more sinister.

It is easy for a board member to understand the value of knowing employees location, but communicating value to the employee requires bridging the context gap between executives and the front line. For example, an executive at a facilities management company may understand the value of tracking janitorial workers for protection against slip and fall. But how well is that same risk understood by the janitor who is using the app?

When communicating value to the janitor, the company must not only make sure that the magnitude of the slip and fall risk is understood, but also, focus on features that make the janitor’s job easier – like the removal of cumbersome forms and check-in procedures.

Ask for permission

The best thing about mobile apps is, installation can be a form of requesting permission. Good location-aware apps communicate the value proposition to the employee during the install process and get express permission from users to know their location.

If the app is not optional, make sure you have a good process for communicating what it does, what are the benefits and why it is needed. Address concerns about privacy outright and have an open discussion about program goals and what tracking really means.

Engage employees in the process

Acceptance comes from participation. And like any change initiative, the person who best understands the value (and potential objections), is the one you’re asking to use it. Involve employees in the design process and incorporate their feedback. Better, now that you’re using a mobile app, deploy it as a means of gathering feedback from your employees.

Final Thoughts

Employees shouldn’t be worried about location-aware apps, because the apps themselves should be explicitly tailored to their needs, helping them do their jobs more easily, safely and efficiently. And if employers can effectively deliver on those goals, they need not worry about adoption.

Speak with a solutions advisor today.

This post was originally published by is a provider of IoT powered mobile workforce management software.


Wayfinding: An essential step for increasing productivity and engagement

In what’s being called “the modern workplace”, productivity and engagement drive everything. From large corporations down to rising startups, companies are exploring new workplace offerings to improve employee experiences. While some businesses experiment with 6 hour work weeks, others are testing out health and wellness programs. Both are often well received and even boasted about, but implementing and supporting these programs long term can be cumbersome and may not be the best fit for every company culture.

Instead of trying to increase productivity and engagement with supplemental tactics, progressive corporations are introducing wayfinding solutions to alleviate daily headaches for employees. Wayfinding is the leveraging of integrated building technologies to deliver employees real-time visibility into the availability of high demand resources; such as conference rooms, desks, and even fellow colleagues.

According to Steelcase Inc., 40% of employees waste up to 30 minutes a day looking for meeting space. And with most employees attending 62 meetings per month, that’s a lot of valuable time lost! Wayfinding tools show employees what rooms are available now, when the room is booked, and what amenities and technologies are available per room. When employers make it simple for employees to find the type of space they need, it not only improves the employee’s overall experience in the workplace but allows them to be more productive with their time.

In fact, according to CBRE’s 2017 Americas Occupier Survey, 53% of organizations name promoting collaboration as the main driver for their workplace strategy. To collaborate effectively, employees not only need the right resources but also must be able to find their fellow co-workers quickly and easily. Wayfinding tools simplify locating a colleague, and contacting them, by pulling in the employee directory. It’s as simple as searching for the person you need and clicking “call” or “email” to be instantly connected, making each collaborative session more efficient and effective.

To learn more about how wayfinding addresses these issues, watch our video blog.


Workplace Strategies Revolutionizing Office Space

The modern workplace is transforming the way people think about their office space. Leading enterprises are leveraging their workplace to benefit their business and their people. We recently hosted a webinar to address the best practices for the modern workplace. Our panel of industry experts Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate at HP, Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco, and Luc Kamperman, Partner of Veldhoen Company, shared their insights and lessons learned from working with workplace strategies and activity based working. Below we walk through some of the major highlights from each of our presenter’s presentations, read on to learn more.

How to Take a Workplace from Lifeless to Lively

Presented by: Jill Zunshine, Former Global Head of Real Estate, HP

When beginning a workplace transformation, you must gather data to understand how your company and how employees work. There are many ways to collect data, but there are 3 steps that cannot be forgotten.

  • Business Strategies: Understand each business line and function areas of your business. Talk to them about their strategy and goals for their department.
  • Employee Feedback: Gather and analyze engagement scores and satisfaction surveys to understand what employees think about the current workspace.
  • Utilization Percentages: Collect how space is being used and what spaces are being used for what type of activity. Having the right utilization collection technologies can accelerate your process.

“The best workplace strategies are designed around the people and their work,” says Jill Zunshine. When designing an activity based workplace, workstyles and work settings need to be considered. Jill uses five work styles and five work settings to understand how employees work. Here’s a few examples:

Work Style:

  • Agile: Often means flexible, frequent changes between collaborating and concentrating (ex. System software engineer).
  • Innovator: Refers to constantly developing or creating something new (ex. Research engineer).

Work Setting:

  • Entry Zone: Typically a reception area or business lounge. These types of settings are best for the traveler work style.
  • Quiet Zone: Little to no talking takes place in this area. This work setting is suitable for agile, concentrator, or innovator working styles.

*Design Tip: creating spaces that flow from an active buzz to a quieter noise level has shown to be most effective.

Watch the webinar to learn more about creating a lively workplace strategy >> 

Technology in the Modern Workplace

Presented by: Tom Zampini, CEO of Beco

From experience, Tom Zampini sees three problems that have arisen regarding the modern workplace:

  • Over Spending: Large and inflexible portfolios are heavily underused.
  • Failure to Embrace Digital: There’s a failure to embrace digital and thinking that mobility undermines productivity.
  • Working Environment: Companies are either working in new ways in old spaces, or working in new spaces that impede real work.

To combat these issues, today’s dynamic workplaces need real-time data. “There’s a need for real-time monitoring of space utilization across the entire portfolio. It’s not just a space study, it’s a perpetual measurement of all space, all the time, at scale,” says Tom.

Once you gather the real-time data, it unlocks the ability to see true success. Such as:

  • Saving on real estate: repurpose space, delay expansion, and consolidate buildings.
  • Better management of workplace: optimize design, find a free space in real-time, and bring amenities online.

Watch the webinar to learn more about enabling the employee experience through mobile >> 

Industry Trends & Consulting Experiences

Presented by: Luc Kamperman, Partner at Veldhoen Company

How leadership and employees engage with one another is changing right alongside the workplace. Once you have an activity based work environment, how do you support the employee’s productivity and innovation? Luc follows 3 factors to lead to better performance and personal satisfaction.

  • Autonomy: people want to explore, learn, and foster their inner drive. This can be supported by giving people control in their environment.
  • Mastery: employees should strive to get better at doing things, and encourage improvements and growth.
  • Purpose: what is connecting them to their work and workplace?

*Engagement Tip: If you want engagement, a self-directed approach is ideal.


When optimizing your workplace, an integrated approach is the most effective. An integrated approach consists of the physical, virtual, and behavior environment. What that means is:

  • Physical: the workspace
  • Virtual: mobilization of information
  • Behavioral: change and communication

Watch the webinar to learn more about the opportunities activity based working creates >>

The modern workplace means something different for every company. To learn more about how the modern workplace is impacting today’s organization watch our full webinar here.


Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy

Workplace transformation is becoming a primary focus for innovative companies. In fact, according to the CBRE 2017 Americas Occupier Survey Report, 86% of respondents are reinventing or adapting their workplace standards this year. But, where do you start? New and trending strategies seem to appear every week: open office design, hoteling, agile working. How do you know which strategy will work best for your business?

Today, corporations are relying heavily on their real estate teams to revolutionize their workplaces into modern spaces where employees and buildings are both effective and efficient. The multi-generational workforce has higher expectations from their employers and people want more from their office than just a place to sit. To accommodate these diverse needs and demands, leading enterprises are seeing the most success with activity based working environments.

Download Whitepaper: “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”

Leesman describes activity based working (ABW) as a transformational business strategy that provides people with a choice of setting, rather than forcing individuals to work at a singular desk location. Companies who have adopted ABW in their workplace strategy are finding it to be a long-term solution that addresses the modern workforce needs as well as aligning with business goals.

While many companies are realizing the benefits of ABW, the transition didn’t happen overnight. Their corporate real estate teams consider the multi-generational workforce, rising property costs, advancements in technology, and the war for talent when creating their workplace strategy.

To learn how progressive enterprises are developing successful ABW strategies, read our new step-by-step guide “Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy”.


High-Tech Commercial Occupancy Sensors for Agile Space Planning

The following is a guest blog written by Itamar Roth, Chief Business Officer at PointGrab.

Agile workplaces are a smart strategy for solving a number of pressing corporate problems: reining in mounting property costs by optimizing space, supporting workforce mobility, and attracting and retaining talent.

However, planning and managing these flexible environments is challenging because of the nature of agile spaces: people are constantly moving around and occupancy shifts from day to day, even hour to hour. Agile space planning requires a real-time in-depth understanding of how your workforce uses space, including the floor, room and desk level. If you attempt to implement agile workplaces without reliable business intelligence about space utilization, chances are you’ll fail to gain the benefits you’re looking to achieve.

Innovative occupants’ activity sensors can provide up-to-the-minute intelligence about space utilization that’s needed to plan and manage modern workplaces. In the past, commercial occupancy sensors most commonly were used for automating lighting or HVAC control. Today, intelligent Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology can be used to help lower expenses and design workplaces that provide the optimal employee experience.

Here are some of the latest advancements in commercial occupancy sensors and how they overcome some of these challenges.

Horizontal sensing vs. traditional commercial occupancy sensors

Counting the number of people occupying a space is useful for a number of facilities operations, including managing lighting, controlling HVAC, managing meeting space usage and room booking systems, and even for building security. However, in the past, separate sensors managed each of these functions without crossover. Today, with the IoT transformation, computer vision and AI advancements, “horizontal” sensing devices can share data across many building systems, meaning facility managers can implement one sensor platform to communicate with and manage various building automation requirements.

TIP: Deploying a unified sensing platform also makes it easier to monitor and analyze data using Serraview’s space analytics tools and heat-maps.

Image sensing and AI improves ability to count people for space management

Many traditional commercial occupancy sensors use motion-detection to infer the presence or absence of people within a defined space. Therefore, such sensors cannot determine the number of occupants in the given space.

Other people-counting technologies, such as beacons, can provide location details, but they require employees to install a smartphone app, keep it switched on and carry the device wherever they go inside the building. Without participation, the accuracy of these systems is questionable. In addition, they might “count” nearby employees who are just outside the designated count area (e.g. a meeting room).

More advanced occupants’ activity sensors use imaging technology to “see” people (as opposed to objects) within a defined space to provide an accurate headcount and occupants’ tracking information. These sensors are surprisingly smart, as they not only “see” but also analyze the scenery. Using deep-learning neural network technology, such sensor devices can accurately detect the presence, location, count and movement of occupants across countless scenarios and environments. As a result, these devices can provide more detailed and accurate information about occupants, well beyond merely reporting the absence or presence of people within a space.

Edge analytics technology protects occupants’ privacy

Corporate space planners need accurate space utilization data to provide better work spaces that support mobility and collaboration. However, they must collect that intelligence without compromising the privacy of employees. Occupants’ activity sensors that employ edge analytics provide intelligence and the required level of privacy, since all the data processing happens within the sensor itself. That means no sensitive or identifiable information (such as occupant’s image) is stored or transmitted, therefore there is no privacy compromise.

Extending range and reducing maintenance

In a flexible office environment, it’s essential to track seat availability in real time to power wayfinding and desk booking systems that help employees find spaces to work. Even in traditional spaces, meeting room seating must be monitored for availability and occupancy tracked to better optimize meeting space. However, putting traditional and single-purpose desk sensors under every seat can become expensive. Even beyond the cost of the sensors, there is the cost of installation and the cost of replacing batteries regularly.

Occupants’ activity sensor technology is hard-wired to eliminate battery changes. And, instead of being installed under every seat, ceiling installations increase the range, allowing a single sensor to track up to 15 seats simultaneously.

Demand-controlled ventilation reduces energy use

Intelligent sensor technology is becoming useful for increased control of building systems like HVAC, which not only reduces costs but provides a more comfortable environment for the workforce. Demand-controlled ventilation is a great example. Ventilation brings air into the space from the outside, which must be heated or cooled to a set temperature. Traditional ventilation is designed to vent space according to its maximum capacity, which today is rarely 100%. Venting at 100% capacity wastes a great deal of energy, especially in very hot or cold climates.

Demand-controlled ventilation reduces HVAC energy consumption by 20% by using actual space utilization data from sensors to adjust ventilation according to real-time demand. Monitoring CO2 levels is one way to measure the need for ventilation within a space. However, occupants’ activity sensors can respond faster to changing numbers of people without waiting for CO2 levels to rise and fall, and reports these numbers to the HVAC system. The result is better indoor air quality, which can impact both workforce wellness and productivity.

Daylight harvesting provides smarter lighting control

The same occupants’ activity sensors that count people in a space can also be used to provide the optimal lighting conditions and further reduce energy consumption. In modern workplaces with lots of windows and natural light, photo cells are used to precisely monitor the lighting conditions within a space. The sensors take advantage of natural light, when and where it’s available, and reduce your building’s lighting accordingly. This process is called “daylight harvesting.”

While using a few photo cells for daylight harvesting has been shown effective, it is still limited in analyzing the complete light distribution in a defined space. By contrast, the same image sensor that is used for occupants’ detection applications contains thousands of photo cells, allowing it to “see” the varying lighting conditions within a region of interest. That data can be used to understand which lights can be dimmed and which powered up within a given area. The result is optimized lighting distribution, reduced energy consumption, and a better workplace experience for employees.

The workplace tools used by facilities and corporate real estate teams need to keep up with the smart technology the workforce is implementing. Smart building technology, especially intelligent sensor technology, has advanced rapidly in recent years, contributing to significant cost reductions and a more productive environment that supports the modern workforce.

Download Best Practices for the Modern Workplace today.

*PointGrab is a computer vision company that provides an innovative sensing platform to the smart building industry. The company applies its superior deep-learning technology to accurately track and understand human activity and space utilization. This enables building operation efficiency optimization, higher real-estate and space utilization, and energy savings.


Can You Adopt Agile Working Practices in Existing Office Space?

The following is a guest post written by Melissa Marsh, Senior Managing Director of Occupant Experience at Savills Studley, the leading commercial real estate services firm specializing in tenant representation. Melissa is also Founder and Executive Director of PLASTARC, a social research, workplace innovation, and real estate strategy firm dedicated to shifting workplace metrics from ‘square feet and inches’ to ‘occupant satisfaction and performance.’

Today’s workplace is taking on new responsibilities: building relationships between business teams, enabling a culture of collaboration, attracting and retaining the best talent, boosting productivity, and supporting innovation. It all adds up to a pretty tall order—one that’s especially tough to accomplish within a traditional office space.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking at agile working practices and/or activity-based workplace design for ways to meet the objectives above, but wondering how you can make such substantial change within the foreseeable future. It could be years before your organization will be in a position to build a brand new, modern facility—or maybe you’re thinking that day will never come.

Certainly, it’s ideal to kick off your workplace transformation with a fresh start: a signature architect-designed building with an impressive list of amenities, not to mention open staircases, near-exotic work settings, and tons of natural light.  

Don’t despair!

If it’s not feasible for your company to construct a big-ticket facility now, that doesn’t mean you have to forego the benefits of these practices altogether! In fact, it’s smart to do so even if (and especially if) you have longer-term plans to move to a new building. Keep reading to find out why.

Before we get started, a bit of vocabulary will help get us on the same page. Though they have a lot in common, agile working practices are generally characterized by the premise that “work” is an activity, not a place, and therefore it can happen at any hour of the day, in any location, and with help from any number of technologies. Activity-based working (ABW) is a design typology that eschews dedicated desks and seats in favor of activity areas made for different tasks: private phone booths for calls, a lounge for impromptu conversations, standing desks for independent work, etc.

Many workplace consultants (or architects) may hesitate to tell you this, but it is possible to make the move to agile working practices and activity-based work settings within your existing space, likely without making a huge investment in its architecture or interior design.

There’s no denying that there are challenges associated with implementing agile working practices in a space that’s not currently set up for them. However, in the right circumstances, and with proper planning, you can convert a traditionally designed space into an activity-based environment with non-assigned seating.

Assessing the challenges: Understanding agile working practices in an existing space

1. Mobile technology is essential 

If there’s a single biggest physical prerequisite to implementing agile working practices within existing office space, it’s technology. Your company needs to have a level of technology that allows people to be mobile where they work, full stop. Mobile phones and laptops make it much simpler for employees to embrace the new way of working and allow them to make full use of different types of space. In some cases, you can get by with existing technology—for example, desk phones that allow employees to log in to get their calls, or simple softphone programs that let people use their tablet or laptop as a phone.

Mobile technology is likely the most important investment you’ll make in your initial workplace transformation efforts, so it’s smart to plan for it up front.

2. People are creatures of habit

One big advantage of moving to agile working practices in a brand new office is that the space itself will help catalyze behavioral change. Switching between different spaces and working more collaboratively are still new concepts and behaviors to many workers, but they don’t feel so awkward when attempted in a new environment where nothing feels familiar. It’s more difficult for people to change the way they work in the same space where they’ve already developed habits and adapted to the status quo.

So if you’re not going the brand new office route, and are instead planning a redesign of your current workplace, how can you harness this same principle of sweeping change? With a carefully-planned change management program. See number 3, below.  

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

3. Communication can make or break your efforts

The centerpiece of your change management plan must be proactive communication that includes the right messaging for your employees. Let’s be very clear: your message should not be about all the money your company stands to save by moving to agile working practices.

While that’s certainly good motivation for your CFO, it’s not going to fly with employees. Citing a happier ending for the company’s bottom line won’t gain you any fans from within a group that feels they’re being asked to give something up (in this case, their desks, and the sense of ownership that goes with them). If you go this route, you’re very likely to be seen as shifting responsibility for your workplace’s finances from yourself onto your employees.

Instead, your messaging to employees needs to explain “what’s in it for them”—how their own individual workplace experience will benefit from these changes. Stress that people who adopt agile working practices report being more productive, having more helpful “collisions” with their colleagues, and feeling a more empowering sense of agency within their surroundings.

Learn more:
Multiply Agile Working Benefits: Invest in the Employee Experience

4. Agile working practices are complemented by ABW

Don’t focus solely on moving to unassigned seating to increase your occupancy and utilization levels. If you do, you may reap the oft-cited cost-savings, but you won’t get more productive employees, or any of the other benefits mentioned above. In fact, if you ask people to give up their desks without giving them better choices, you may find employees giving you the emperor’s new clothes treatment.

Providing choice means addressing diversity within the workspace. A choice between a desk at a window and a desk in a hallway is not really a choice. If your new space is unassigned but still homogeneous, it won’t work. Instead, create different space types that align with the way your teams want and need to work: quiet areas, collaborative areas, private areas, social areas, etc. Make these spaces uniquely different, too, by varying elements like wall and accessory color and furniture style between them.

5. Start moving sooner rather than later

Most organizations tend not to experiment with their workplaces for learning purposes, so when it comes to design, it’s easy to become static. Then, when a lease is expiring or they need to add more space, the change can easily feel cataclysmic.

With that in mind, consider taking this opportunity to conduct a pilot that can show you how agile working practices might work for your company (see more in number 2, below). A pilot will help you figure out the types of spaces that work best for your people, and the policy changes that might be needed to make them work better. As an added bonus, the lessons you learn from your pilot-scale experiments with existing space will make you more successful if and when the time comes to invest in a larger design/build project for a modern facility.

At PLASTARC, we call this process “fail fast workplace planning.” Read about how Mozilla did it: Mozilla’s Open Source Workplace: Failing Fast, Creating, Succeeding.

Remember, it’s not only the CRE team that will learn from your initial efforts: your employees will also gain their first understandings of agile working practices and how the modern office can help them work smarter. So when you finally do open that fabulous new building (or even just unveil that fabulous new floor plan), they’ll be much more ready, willing, and able to jump right in.

Making the leap: How to set the stage for & begin tracking agile working practices

1. Start with a pilot

A manageable move for your foray into agile working practices could start with a pilot of 30 to 40 people; for larger companies, not more than 300 to 400 (for most large office buildings, that’s 1 to 3 floors). Convert a discrete existing space first, and measure success by whether or not people use it. If they don’t, there might be a problem with how it’s designed or allocated. Once you know, you can address the issues on this pilot-level scale, before you’ve spent too much time or money.

2. Mix it up

While most businesses spend a lot of time and money restacking to accomplish clustered adjacencies (similar teams working together), now’s your chance to try something different: encourage complementary teams to work together. In the agile environment, you’ll no longer need to move people around in the traditional manner; you can empower them to move themselves to the optimal place for cross-team collaboration.

3.  Plan smart

It can be tricky to figure out how to rework a floor to create a pilot space that will test your ideas without disrupting business or incurring major moving expenses. Serraview’s scenario planning and relocation tools make the process simpler, faster, and less expensive, and help companies think differently about their space from top to bottom.

4. Use technology to measure results and refine

To make the best use of your initial efforts as a learning experience, it pays to invest in utilization tracking technology like sensors. Such technology can provide a wealth of data about how your people are using the new space (or not), which can help you repeat your successes and identify and correct problems. Hopefully, since your pilot is taking place in a small area, this won’t be a prohibitive investment. But even if sensors can’t make it into your budget, you can at least take a new look at data you’re probably already tracking, such as badge swipe information, to help you measure space utilization.

Learn more:
What Location Intelligence Means for The Workplace
Sensor Data: What It Reveals About Workforce and Workplace

Ready, set… Get to work!

If you employ all the steps above when you’re ready to make an investment in your workplace of the future—whether that’s a brand new building, or just brand new interior design—you’ll be in a better position to confidently plan for that future. Because you will have experimented with and refined your agile working practices, you’ll already know what’s needed to meet your KPIs for utilization and enable the top-notch employee experience you’re after. Plus, you’ll have the data to prove that your agile workplace really works.


Smart Building Solutions for Corporate Safety & Employee Experience

IWMS 2.0 – Driving lower costs and speed through integrated best in breed systems

According to Gartner, the “traditional, siloed management of the facilities life cycle is being challenged by bimodal business, the digital workplace, a mobile workforce and the Internet of Things (IoT).”

With the emergence of new workplace models and technologies, we are starting to see a shift away from traditional Integrated Workplace Management Systems (IWMS) to stand-alone software systems integrated through common APIs in order to achieve true best of breed capabilities across multiple service needs. In fact, one of the original founders of the IWMS concept, Michael Bell, has defined this shift as IWMS 2.0. According to Mr. Bell, IWMS 2.0 has the potential to achieve lower costs, faster implementation and valuable data-driven insights.

At we are strongly aligned with Michael Bell’s IWMS 2.0 vision. We are focused on solving very specific challenges for facilities managers such as;

  • How to improve the visibility of facilities services delivered?
  • How to improve efficiency and quality of services delivered?
  • How to use data to optimize delivery of facilities services?

Watch in action:

For a facility manager, these challenges form only one part of their overall remit. Whilst it’s tempting to build out a system that covers the entire facilities management function, we realize that by doing so we would be sacrificing the quality of our core product. Therefore, our preference is to integrate with complimentary products that are best of breed and solve a different set of challenges for facilities managers.

To illustrate the IWMS 2.0 model in practice, let’s explore how could integrate with another best in breed software product – Serraview. Serraview is a leader in space planning and management. is a leader in commercial cleaning software and optimizing delivery of facilities services. Combined, these two products can provide facility managers with an end-to-end solution for managing employees, assets, and delivery of facilities services.

Faster work order resolution through crowdsourcing issues

Serraview empowers employees with a wayfinding mobile app that allows them to find co-workers, locate open conference rooms, find meeting rooms, and navigate buildings. With a small amount of effort, this app could be extended to allow office employees to report maintenance, safety and cleaning issues. The issue would be sent to, via an API, and the appropriate responder would be notified via the mobile app. The issue would be managed via automated workflows until resolved, at which time the original employee who reported the issue would be notified via the Serraview mobile app.


  • Faster identification of building issues through crowd-sourcing
  • Faster resolution of issue through API driven cross-platform workflows
  • More satisfied employees through faster issue resolution and cleaner and safer work spaces

Employee feedback on standard of facilities

The traditional model for assessing the quality of facility services, such as cleaning, is via manual auditing. In simple terms, walking around a facility and scoring cleanliness for different areas of the facility. However, when you think about it, the facility services are provided to satisfy the needs of the end users, being the employees. Therefore it makes sense to let employees rate the quality of service delivered, and for facilities managers to use this data to assess the performance of service providers.

Employees could use the Serraview mobile app to rate the standard of facilities. This data could be sent to, providing facilities managers and service providers with a real-time quality score of facility services and employee satisfaction. Scores could be bench-marked across different facilities and low scores could trigger intervention by the service provider.


  • More reliable measurements for state of facilities and service provider performance
  • Ability to respond quicker to quality issues through real-time data and alerts
  • Ability to benchmark employee satisfaction with service across multiple sites

Improved employee satisfaction through demand-based cleaning

Serraview uses IoT sensors to understand how space is being utilized. This real-time utilization data could facilitate new service models such as demand based-cleaning. For example, Serraview could detect increased levels of activity in shared spaces such as meeting rooms, bathrooms, kitchenettes and send this data to via an API. If the activity levels exceed a defined threshold, would automatically create a non-scheduled task for a nearby cleaner.


  • More efficient use of resources, only cleaning areas that need attention

We hope that the examples provided demonstrate some of the benefits of an IWMS 2.0 approach to facilities management using two best in breed software systems. Even without tight integration, at we are firm believers that choosing a set of best in breeds systems has the power to reduce costs and increase speed and quality of services provided.

Download a guide to managing workplace utilization today.


Making the Case for Workplace Management Software at Your Company

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.

When you consider the expense of having a private workspace, you begin to realize where you can improve efficiencies and cut costs – and what company isn’t looking for simple, effective ways to do this throughout their enterprise?

To start, evaluate your workspace usage. As you can see from the diagram below, most businesses assume they have 60-70% workspace utilization, when it is significantly lower.

Take into account that real estate is among the highest expense for a business, the financial implications for more efficient workspace usage are huge.

Here’s why you should make the case for workplace management software:

4 Major Factors that Affect Workspace Needs

1. The Rising Cost of Corporate Real Estate

Globally, real estate costs are at an all-time high. As your operating costs rise, it is imperative your company maximizes real estate and monitors usage to avoid wasted space.

2. An Increase in Flexible & Remote Job Opportunities

As companies offer greater work flexibility, the number of flexible or remote employees has increased. By 2020, researchers predict that flexible working will be the main mode of working for 70% of organizations.

Related article: How the Gig Economy Is Impacting the Corporate Workplace

3. Productivity is Key

Rather than measure how long someone spends at a desk, productivity needs to be monitored in terms of goals and deliverables. If you adapt to the physical and virtual world of work, you can foster greater productivity.

Related article: How Do You Measure Knowledge Worker Productivity

4. Attract & Retain the Best Talent

The average cost to replace a team member is $40,000, so keeping your top talent is a worthwhile investment. Additionally, when seeking prospective employees from younger generations, think about building a corporate culture that’s more in-tune with today’s work and lifestyles.

Related article: 3 Workplace Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

Solutions that Save Time and Space

Modern workplace technology, including room booking and desk booking software, digital signage for meeting rooms and workspace occupancy sensors, help businesses address these four workplace challenges. Innovative workplace management software enables companies to simplify their space management, maximize workspace usage and minimize overall space needs, ultimately cutting costs. Smart companies today want workplace management software that comes with benefits such as:

  • Improving employee performance – your workforce will enjoy the accuracy, convenience and flexibility of the workspace. Whether it’s having meeting rooms available for collaboration or an open desk for individual work, employees will be able to use these resources when and where they need it – decreasing downtime, increasing productivity.
  • Driving better decisions – by knowing how workspaces are used on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis, companies can analyze this data to develop their workplace allocation strategies and future real estate plans.
  • Improving the bottom line – with fewer wasted resources. Do-it-yourself workspace bookings, as well as better use of existing real estate and future real estate ventures, result in reduced costs.

To help bring the benefits of these valuable innovations to your company, take a closer look at how they can aid key individuals and support groups by downloading our Making the Case for Workplace Software guide. It details frequently encountered workplace challenges and the advantages of workplace management software for nine roles (or operational groups) found in most companies.

Transforming your business with these new technologies can be easy with the right workplace management software and technology partner. Many major corporations are already realizing significant savings on real estate and resource requirements, resulting in better performance on the bottom line. Be sure that your company joins that list.

Does traditional IWMS meet the needs of the modern workplace? Learn more.


Serraview & Accruent Integrate Workplace Management Solutions

The recent announcement of Serraview’s partnership with Accruent has generated quite a buzz in the corporate real estate arena.

In case you missed it: Accruent Announces Strategic Partnership With Serraview

We’ve been getting a lot of questions, so today we’re letting you in on some of our plans and the unique opportunities our combined workplace management solutions will bring to companies transitioning to the modern corporate office.

Why have Serraview and Accruent teamed up?

Serraview and Accruent are both leading providers of workplace management solutions for companies looking to shape, drive, manage and control their real estate portfolio. Our goals are perfectly aligned: to enable corporations to make the best use of physical spaces and transform them into strategic assets.

Accruent’s workplace management solutions are at work in more than 5,800 leading organizations worldwide, including 40 of the top 100 retailers, 25 percent of the Fortune 500, 40 percent of leading universities, all 4 of the top U.S. wireless carriers, 55 percent of U.S. hospitals as well as leading service providers managing more than 15 billion square feet of property. Moving to the modern workplace is one of the primary concerns of these companies and institutions. The integration with Serraview ramps up support for organizations to realize the massive benefits of transforming and optimizing their work space, including:

  • Delivering destination workplaces that attract and retain talent
  • Supporting an increasingly diverse and mobile workforce
  • Enabling a corporate culture that fosters innovation
  • Savings tens of millions or more by eliminating wasted space and maximizing utilization

Find out more about the impact of workplace management solutions on workplace transformation from this white paper: Best Practices for the Modern Workplace.

How does the partnership better support the modern corporate office?

Today’s workplaces need to provide additional value for organizations that was never anticipated in years past. Pressure to reduce property costs remains high, but at the same time CRE organizations must optimize workplaces to enable innovation, attract talent, boost productivity and improve employee experience in the workplace.

Many progressive companies are accomplishing these goals by moving away from traditional allocated seating and transitioning to flexible shared spaces that workers can use as needed. Doing so allows organizations to reduce property costs by optimizing use of space, as well as provide workplaces designed to support mobility and enable each team to work the way they work best.

Learn more: Emerging CRE Tech for Workplace Space Optimization

The partnership between the Serraview and Accruent provides companies with workplace management solutions designed specifically for agile environments built around shared neighborhoods rather than assigned desks. Serraview’s space planning technology manages modern office space based on real-time utilization: visualizing space, creating what-if scenarios, right-sizing neighborhood allocations based on occupancy levels, and pinpointing opportunities for savings. Serraview also provides wayfinding technology that improves the employee experience in the workplace by helping employees find people, find colleagues and find meeting spaces in a large facility.


What are some of the new capabilities planned for the integration?

Here are just a few examples of how we’re planning to integrate Serraview’s and Accruent’s workplace management solutions:

Improve scenario planning with strategic data access. Serraview’s stacking and what-if scenario planning tools make it easy to combine pockets of vacancy into a contiguous space that can be freed up for other uses. You might be able to sublet the extra space, or even exit the space altogether. By adding easy access to Accruent’s leasing products, space planners can check lease expiration dates and sublet options when making space optimization decisions.

Enhance employee experience with integrated fault reporting. In many organizations, it’s cumbersome for employees to report on facility issues (such as malfunctioning equipment, broken furniture or HVAC problems). As a result, these problems often go unresolved for extended periods of time. Which leads to workplace faults that impact employee experience as well as productivity. Integrating Serraview’s wayfinding tools with Accruent’s facilities management tools can solve these issues by providing employees with an easy way to report repair issues. The wayfinding tool pops up a quick form for reporting, while communicating the user’s exact location to facilities staff, who gain a line of sight to where problems are so they can be taken care of on a timely basis.

Streamline the Move-Add-Change process. Managing moves within an organization is typically a time-consuming process involving several groups. Within Serraview, space managers receive space requests, find vacancies and make assignments, and schedule the move process. Accruent’s work order tools tee up the facilities staff to move boxes and furniture. And the IT staff that handles the technology changes required for the move. Integrating the two workplace management solutions will connect those two parts of the move process, allowing work orders required for the move to be created from within Serraview.

Our respective product and business development teams are excited by the potential of this new partnership, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of the functional enhancements we can provide for our clients in our combined workplace management solutions. Feel free to reach out to us with your questions!

Can traditional IWMS meet your evolving needs? Learn more.


Workplace Strategy: How to Go From Lifeless to Lively

The Journey to Workplace Productivity is a lot Like the Journey to the Wizard of Oz

Have you ever thought your workplaces were boring and lifeless? Have you ever wondered what could be done to turn your boring and lifeless workplaces around? I did. Once I inherited boring, lifeless workplaces. When you find yourself in this situation, you may be tempted to adopt the latest workplace trend. Remote working. Open office. Free address. Co-working. Back to the office. But how do you know that any of these trends will work for your business?

The best workplace strategies are designed around the people and the work. They boost workplace productivity by improving the employee experience, attracting and retaining talent, and improving business productivity. By how much? Here’s a striking example. One of Serraview’s large corporate real estate clients achieved:

  • 89% of people recommending their new workplace to others,
  • Four times more job applicants, and
  • 92% utilization of their corporate real estate portfolio, up from 50% three years ago.

How do you get there? The journey to workplace productivity is a lot like the journey to the Wizard of Oz. A tornado strikes. Dorothy is lost. She follows the yellow brick road to the Wizard of Oz. On the way, she meets three characters: the scarecrow, the tin man, and the cowardly lion.

  1. The scarecrow needs a brain. The brain in workplace strategy is gathering the data and creating design principles.
  2. The tin man needs a heart. The heart in workplace strategy is engaging people in the design and creating a design that engages people.
  3. The cowardly lion needs courage. Courage in workplace strategy is leading the change, especially when it’s difficult.

Brains, heart, and courage. Are you ready to get started? Here are three steps to transform your workplace from lifeless to lively with workplace strategy.

Workplace Strategy Step 1: Gather Data & Create Design Principles (“The Brains”)

“The role of the workplace strategist is to get to know the organization in a really deep way,” says Randy Howder, Gensler workplace strategist in Interior Design. “It’s more than just one vision session. It’s really living with the client, like how Frank Lloyd Wright used to go live with clients, to really respond to the environment.”

Gather Data

To get to know your company and inform your workplace strategy, gather the data to learn:

  • Business Strategies – for your entire company, every business line, and every function, especially human resources, information technology, and brand.
  • Industry Trends – for the industry your company is in, and perhaps even for related industries.
  • Employee Feedback – employee engagement surveys, workplace satisfaction surveys, and facilities satisfaction surveys.
  • Observations – real-time, in person workplace observation studies by a trained industrial engineer who observes activity in both dedicated and shared spaces.
  • Utilization % – how and how much space is used. This is where it helps a lot to have tools to collect and analyze the data. (Learn more from this white paper: Managing Workplace Utilization.)
  • Financial Results – operating expense, capital expenditures, and assets. Get it by site, if possible.

Gathering data to get to know your company and its business, can be the hardest and most time-consuming step, especially if you don’t have good systems, data, or relationships. But you must do it. Without it, you can’t design a workplace strategy that would meet your business needs.

Create Design Principles

When I gathered the data about my company and its business, and analyzed the data, here are the principles that I came up with. Some of them may apply to your company.

  • Connections – How can workplaces become the hubs and connection points for people, places, and partnerships?
  • Focus & Flexibility – Where will we work quietly, free from distraction and noise, and have the ability to change our workplaces based on our needs?
  • Engaging Experiences – How will we design engaging experiences rather than merely spaces?
  • Technology – How can technology bring the physical and digital worlds together? How can technology enlarge our world beyond the four walls?
  • Brand/Culture – How can workplaces communicate brand and culture?
  • Sustainability & Wellness – How can workplaces contribute to better health and better environmental outcomes?

Read more in this related article: Components of the High Performance Workplace

Workplace Strategy Step 2: Engage People in the Design & Create a Design that Engages People (“The Heart”)

Engage People in the Design

To create a design that engages people, start by engaging people in the design. If you prefer a more structured approach, consider ideation workshops or design thinking. If you prefer a less structured approach, consider focus groups or just talking with people.

Identify Work Styles

Identify the different styles of work at your company. They may vary within a business or function. They’re likely the same for one type of job or group of jobs. In technology companies and companies with a lot of technology, work styles may include:

  • Agile – flexible; where a person changes quickly and seamlessly between collaborative and concentrative work. Typical jobs include systems software engineers.
  • Communicator – connects and collaborates with his or her team; where a person balances face-to-face interaction with virtual meetings. Typical jobs include brand managers.
  • Concentrator – spends the majority of time on focused work; where a person shares ideas and builds community in a team setting. Typical jobs include region counsel.
  • Traveler – continually visits client sites when not in the office; where a person uses free address or touchdown space when in the office. Typical jobs include field technical support consultants.
  • Innovator – develops future products; where a person works heads-down, testing and building products, and also shares their work for feedback. Typical jobs include research engineers.

Create Work Settings and Zones

In your workplace strategy, create zones that bring the design principles to life and serve as primary or secondary work settings for each of the work styles. In the example below, the physical layout ranges from an active buzz at the entry zone to focused concentrative places in quiet zones. Here’s how:

  • Entry Zone – reception, business lounge, and showcase center. Emphasis on connections, engaging experiences, technology, brand/culture, and sustainability & wellness. Primary work setting for travelers.
  • Hub Zone – cafés, open dining, and break out spaces. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, brand/culture, and sustainability & wellness. Primary work setting for agile, communicators, concentrators, and travelers.
  • Garage Zone – open and enclosed spaces. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, engaging experiences, technology, and brand/culture. Primary work setting for agile and innovators.
  • Neighborhoods – team-based zone. Emphasis on connections, focus & flexibility, and engaging experiences. Primary work setting for communicators and concentrators.
  • Quiet Zones – little to no talking. Emphasis on focus & flexibility and technology. Primary work setting for agile, concentrators, and innovators.

You may also provide specialty areas in your workplace strategy, such as customer briefing centers and auditoriums. Consider where they belong relative to the other places. Close? Far away? Completely separated? And, will specialty areas sometimes serve a dual purpose as work space or public space?

Workplace Strategy Step 3: Lead the Change (“The Courage”)

Take accountability for leading the change. Dedicate time and resources to it, and get help when you need it. Communicate early and often. Leading the change is much easier if you’re completing or you already completed steps 1 and 2. Steps 1 and 2 help you make the case for your workplace strategy with facts & figures, as well as feelings.

Take accountability if and when the going gets tough. Ask for and give air cover. Ask for input, and make sure you both listen and hear what people say about your workplace strategy. And above all else, stay focused on the goal: boosting performance of the people and the business.

By following these three steps, you can achieve great results with your workplace strategy, as I did. Plus, you’ll be well on your way to lively, high performance, and perhaps world-class workplaces.

Download Creating an Activity Based Working Strategy today.