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Made in the USA: Workplace Productivity Solutions for Facility Managers

Recently tasked with workplace productivity? This list of the Top Nine Workplace Productivity Solutions can save time and money for US facility managers.

For decades, the primary role of most facility manager positions was to support the occupant and tenant needs, while providing the needed budget and asset protection for the building’s infrastructure systems and elements. Spreadsheets and calendars quickly became the tools of the trade, as preventative maintenance significantly reduced emergency repair costs and tenant inconvenience levels.

Today, that job description also includes maximizing employee productivity by creating an efficient and comfortable work environment. As a result, many facility managers are busy searching for the solutions and systems needed to meet these changing demands. 

This list reviews the top nine workspace productivity solutions to help save time and energy.

1. SMART Building Automation

What Is The Circular Economy

SMART buildings share data and information between the building systems to optimize their operating performance and energy savings. While reserved initially for more significant buildings due to the initial costs involved, SMART platforms today are scalable and affordable. As a result, automation now works well for everything from high-rises to small commercial properties.

Building automation is ideal for most commercial lighting, security, heating, and cooling systems. Using a network of sensors, the systems can adjust to changing occupancy levels, the time of day, holidays, and weather, to reduce energy usage while maintaining a comfortable work environment.

According to WattSense, automation can also increase property value since investors are willing to pay more for buildings that conserve energy while providing a high comfort level.

2. Adaptive Infrastructure Improves Productivity

What Is The Circular Economy

Gridd Power is a power distribution solution installed within the cable management flooring system. There are two distribution systems available: track distribution and field wired.   

If the building’s original design had no provision for future flexibility or adaptability concerns, increasing worker productivity is challenging with legacy infrastructure systems. With the new green building practices and the circular economy expanding, flexibility and adaptability are now paramount considerations.

For example, steel raised flooring systems create a small air gap above the slab for the tenant’s data and electrical cabling. Since these systems are no longer in the walls or above the ceilings, minor system upgrades and total reconfigurations are quick and easy for busy facility teams without the dust, noise, or tenant complaints of traditional construction.

Steel is typically more robust than plastic raised-flooring options, meets the sustainability requirements for green building standards, and addresses flame spread requirements for public safety in a commercial setting.

3. Flexible Workspaces Adapt to Changing Needs

What Is The Circular Economy

According to The Design Gesture, “In architecture, flexibility refers to the ability of a structure to be modified in a reasonable manner, allowing a building to evolve over the long run as the user needs change to accommodate market shifts and extend the project’s life.”

While building flexibility discussions typically occur during the initial design phase of a new project, renovation and remodeling projects can incorporate flexible design by considering the following design components.

Service flexibility: design spaces to be quickly and easily adaptable to accommodate the changing needs of employees, tenants, and customers.

Modifiability: lowering the potential amount of remodeling and updating costs makes the space easier to modify for changing tenants or owners.

Long-term adaptability: when the building doesn’t require significant renovations, the decision to purchase the property or to lease space(s) is simpler and more cost-effective. 

An adaptable workspace can also include features like:

  • Open office areas for large and small group collaborations
  • Quiet areas for research, contemplation, or employee training
  • Colors that calm and soothe to reduce stress and anxiety
  • Task lighting that suits the worker’s processes for increased focus and productivity

Lowering workplace stress and anxiety levels allows workers to be more comfortable and creative while improving overall productivity.

4. Use Workplace Amenities to Support Workplace Wellness Programs

What Is The Circular Economy

While workplace wellness programs are still a relatively new concept for small to medium companies, larger companies have found that maintaining a healthier workforce can lower absenteeism rates, reduce health insurance premiums, and increase office productivity.  

Some of the most common examples include:

  • Carpool options
  • Healthier food choices in the cafeteria
  • Yoga/meditation classes
  • On-site daycare services
  • On-site fitness centers
  • PTO (personal time off) for physical and mental health services
  • Health and nutrition counseling

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines employee wellness (workplace health) programs as “a coordinated and comprehensive set of strategies implemented at the worksite that includes programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to meet the health and safety needs of all employees.”

Through the Workplace Health Resource Center, employers can access the information, tools, and resources compiled by the CDC to create (or expand) an evidence-based health and safety program for their employees. The WHRC provides a centralized hub of workplace wellness information for employers, health coalitions, human resource & benefits managers, and wellness champions.

5. Data-Driven Maintenance Optimizes the Workspace

What Is The Circular Economy

Employ data analytics and predictive maintenance tools to monitor equipment and identify potential issues before they escalate. Facility managers typically choose one of three data tracking options.

  • Computer-Aided Facilities Management (CAFM)
  • Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS)
  • A combination of the two platforms

Each option can work independently or collaboratively to handle complex management tasks or create new plans to improve maintenance, operations, and the employee experience.

Per Space IQ, there are four key types of data for facility managers to consider:

Descriptive: highlights a specific trend

Diagnostic: sheds light on the drivers of a trend

Predictive: forecasts new trends

Prescriptive: influences new trends

Consider this example to demonstrate the different insights each data subset can provide. Descriptive analytics can determine that only six of your dozen hot desks are currently occupied, but predictive data tells you that ten of the twelve desks will be occupied tomorrow based on past trends.

Data comparisons help minimize downtime and maximize equipment efficiency, which leads to a more productive work environment and lower operational costs.

6. Digital Task Management Platforms Simplify Processes

What Is The Circular Economy

According to Planview, although teams typically use task management tools, individual end users report working smarter, getting more done, and experiencing more success.

When properly applied, task management tools can:

Manage and organize workloads: Know precisely what you must do and which items have priority.  

Increase efficiency and production: Applying the optimal number of resources and time to a task results in shorter turnarounds in the production cycle.

Improve the quality of work: Quality is never sacrificed for production speed with organized tasks and correctly utilized information.

Drive collaboration: Teams work better when there is a consensus on what needs to happen, and ideas get easily communicated through a task management system.

Reduce waste: Eliminate time spent thinking of what to do next or reworking tasks needing to be completed correctly on the first attempt.

Meet deadlines: With an organized task management system, you and your team work more efficiently, making missed deadlines a thing of the past.

User-friendly digital task management platforms allow employees and facility teams to track, prioritize, and collaborate on projects and maintenance tasks. Typically available from simple spreadsheets to complex dashboards, these programs are available via software or online applications. Internet-based programs allow users to log in, organize, and manage tasks from virtually anywhere in the world.

When choosing a task management tool, Planview suggests five key points for facility managers to consider.

  • What types of tasks/projects will you be tracking?
  • Is remote access a priority?
  • Can it be integrated into other systems, software, or applications?
  • How important is data analysis?
  • Is the primary user an individual, a team of 15 members, or 50+ employees?

Cross-building transparency streamlines communication between tenants, service teams, and property owners. As a result, downtime, repair costs, and tenant inconvenience levels remain low.

7. Reduce Distractions Through Ergonomic Office Design

What Is The Circular Economy

Common workplace activities such as extended sitting, heavy lifting, reaching overhead, and repetitive tasks can result in musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) for employees. MSDs remain one of the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. Ergonomics, the process of fitting the job to the worker, can significantly reduce distractions and discomfort for tenants, employees, and customers.

To enhance employee comfort and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal issues, many facility managers are now investing in:  

Adjustable chairs 

Sit-stand desks 

Proper task lighting 

Ergonomic computer peripherals (mouse, keyboards, and padded wrist supports)

Anti-glare computer displays

To further increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, OSHA recommends that a participatory ergonomic approach be utilized. In this model, workers are directly involved in the worksite assessments and encouraged to participate in the development and testing of new ergonomic solutions.

8. Efficient Waste Management Benefits Everyone

What Is The Circular Economy

Both green building techniques and the circular economy model focus on eliminating waste from the building’s original construction and throughout its lifecycle. 

According to ISHN, construction and demolition waste (CDW) made up over 40% of the solid waste produced worldwide in 2022. Effectively minimizing waste combined with proper waste management helps protect the environment and keeps the workspace organized and clean, promoting a more productive atmosphere.

Facility managers can develop zero-waste initiatives within the facility and implement comprehensive management strategies to encourage the 4 Rs, as the  Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlined.

Reduce the amount of waste generated by a location.

Reuse as many components and materials as possible.

Refurbish/remanufacture to further extend a product’s lifecycle.

Recycle products/materials only after final reuse or refurbishment.

Current projections suggest that between now and 2060, a city the size of Paris will be built each week. Consequently, the way buildings get designed, constructed, and eventually demolished must change to increase its longevity and worker productivity levels.

9. Equitable Work Policies Improve Workspace Productivity

What Is The Circular Economy

Allowing employees to work from home, when appropriate, can reduce commuting time and boost morale, leading to increased focus and productivity. While many expected that remote working was nothing more than a pivot to keep revenue streams flowing, remote working is here to stay.

  • According to Forbes Advisor, here are the remote worker statistics and trends for 2023.
  • 59.1% of employees work in-office (physical location), despite the steady rise of remote work over the last five years.
  • 12.7% of full-time employees work from home. By 2025 that number will reach 32.6 million workers, or 22% of the workforce.
  • 28.2% of the workforce has adapted to a hybrid work model to offer schedule flexibility between home and the office.
  • 93% of employers say they’ll continue conducting job interviews remotely.
  • 65% of employees report wanting to work remotely on a full-time basis.
  • 16% of companies are fully remote, operating without a physical location.

However, many companies have yet to incorporate comprehensive remote work policies or provide the digital infrastructure a remote workforce would require. Technology upgrades typically require extensive demolition and reconstruction to access the company’s data and electrical systems, generally hidden within the slab, the walls, or above the ceilings.

By installing an access flooring system, those components move to the air space between the slab and raised flooring components. When performing minor upgrades, or an entire reconfiguration for a new tenant, the process is quick and easy. Remove the finished floor material to access every data connection point within the area.

The nine workplace productivity solutions presented here provide facility managers with an overview perspective for improving workplace productivity. While immediate productivity gains can be realized through ergonomic furnishings and equipment, others can require updating legacy systems with new technologies to improve workplace productivity levels. For the built environment, maintenance, renovation, and remodeling projects still provide the best opportunities to improve a building’s future flexibility and worker productivity. Ultimately, choosing the best ergonomic solutions for your building starts with a thorough examination of the building’s structure, usage, and infrastructure systems.

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