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The Importance of Facility Booking Software in a Post-COVID World

Facilities Management

19/03/21 | Rebecca Drewett

The outbreak and progression of the Coronavirus have changed how companies work forever. Formerly organisations that operated entirely “in-house” have adjusted to more flexible and remote methodologies – and in some instances will never return to how things used to be.

Even in a world where remote working is more accessible than ever before, having employees on-site does offer its own advantages, such as:

  • Reduced feelings of isolation, loneliness and other mental health detriments
  • Greater interaction between employees and executives, fostering stronger relationships
  • A clear divide between employees’ “work-life” and “home life”, rather than allowing one to compromise the other

75% of UK employees feel more productive while working from home…
But 75% also feel that a company should still have an office, and 40% believe it is a key place for essential desk work (Business Matters Magazine)

But, the implications that COVID-19 has had on workspaces is profound, and will persist long after the pandemic starts to subside. It has opened the world’s eyes to the threat posed by contagious viruses, and has forced a complete rethink of how we can structure workspaces to protect the health and wellbeing of its employees.

Facility booking software will play a critical role in helping tomorrow’s workplaces. By giving companies and employees more control over how space is used and organised day-to-day, this software will go a long way in alleviating any fears people might have returning to the office, and allow businesses to create safer, healthier settings for their teams going forward.

The Challenges of a Post-COVID Landscape

Above all else, the biggest concern for companies welcoming people back to the workplace post-COVID will be reassuring staff of their safety.

Even as the vaccines against the virus take effect and case numbers decline, it is understandable that employees may be hesitant about becoming exposed. It not only impacts their own health and the health of those around them, it also has financial implications if they are unable to work for an extended period of time.

89% of workers are scared of COVID-19 in the workplace, and believe this is detrimental to their productivity and overall performance (Forbes)

With this in mind, it is the job of the company executives and FM professionals to dispel any concerns they may have with clear actions and processes designed to ensure their safety. Namely, the post-COVID office will need to:

  • Prevent overcrowding in rooms and similar settings, and maintain social distancing guidelines
  • Control the flow of people within the facilities at any given time
  • Make sure all available space is being used to its fullest
  • Demonstrate clearly that rooms are being cleaned and disinfected between uses
  • Ensure any outside visitor is verified and monitored to protect both their and in-house employees’ wellbeing
  • Minimise spending on rooms that are not actively used as a result of flexible working

Here, we will illustrate 6 ways facility booking software can support companies in bringing these precautionary measures to the forefront, making sure offices are compliant with stricter post-COVID standards and are minimising the risks to their occupants’ health.

1. Complete knowledge of what rooms, desks and spaces are available at all times

Firstly, the biggest advantage that facility booking software offers post-COVID companies is a crystal-clear illustration of the availability of meeting rooms and workspaces at any given time.

Prior to the COVID outbreak, the primary value of this software would be to prevent double-bookings and coordinate shared spaces so they are used most efficiently. This avoids any conflicts which can be disruptive to productivity and may lead to arguments between co-workers.

In today’s landscape, this function has a completely different dimension. Now, it is about confirming what spaces are free for employees to use that uphold social distancing requirements and minimise the risks of spreading diseases.

By harnessing this technology, employees can book rooms and desks well in advance for days they are needed in the office, so there is no risk of someone else occupying that space. Plus, as well as locking down that area for the person who booked it, it can also prevent people from booking any desks or spaces that are deemed too close by social distancing standards.

Having this technology to manage and track this information makes the process significantly more seamless. Doing this manually is not only more time-consuming and tedious, it leaves a wider margin for error. Allowing a space to become overcrowded can immediately heighten employees’ anxiety, and may put people’s health at risk.

2. Track who is occupying a space at any time

On top of being able to control how many people have access to a room or workspace at any given time, an effective facility booking solution will enable you to know who exactly is occupying that space.

By giving your staff unique profiles on the software or distinct cards that they can scan upon entry into a room to verify they’re the ones using it, your management team maintains a firm grasp on who is on the premises and where.

Why is this particularly helpful in a post-COVID world?

  • It allows management to know what members of staff are on-site compared to those working remotely, which can help them in incidents like determining attendance after a fire alarm
  • In situations where an employee tests positive for COVID-19 or another contagious disease soon after being on-premises, this enhanced record-keeping makes it easier to identify where they’ve been so the area can be cleaned and anyone else who has used the station can be contact-traced and notified
  • With a clear sense of who is in an area, any packages/visitors they receive can be arranged to cause as little disruption or interference to others as possible

3. Pre-programme cleaning and maintenance tasks post-bookings

When you book a room in your facility for a particular purpose, you’d hope it was prepared appropriately so you can immediately get to work.

One of the great features of our own Facilities Booking Suite is that when a user is making a booking, they can see all of the functions and features a room has available (e.g. a large screen for video meetings) and automatically trigger all of the setup tasks that need to be completed prior to their attendance.

In relation to COVID-19, this is especially important when it comes to cleaning the premises before and after it has been occupied, as well as ensuring the room is well ventilated.

With heightened anxiety surrounding the risks of infection, making a clear demonstration of how cleaners are automatically directed to a room prior to its use, and then immediately following, will fill employees with confidence that you are doing everything in your power to protect their wellbeing.

So, in the current landscape, this aspect of facility booking software is not only ensuring workspaces look good, are fittingly equipped and create a comfortable setting for occupiers. It is also making strides in protecting their health and safety.

Alongside this facilities booking software, our Cleaning Now app also works to keep your customers and workforce safe whilst delivering efficient service in these challenging times.

Through this, you can upload 'route information' to assist cleaners with safe paths to their next tasks, provide a graphical overview of areas requiring attention, and make it straightforward for cleaners to check off tasks to ensure that each step is completed, with a comprehensive auditable record of events.

4. Organise the workspace in case of an employee “overspill”

If your workplace was structured in a traditional manner – i.e. 1 desk per employee – it might require some innovative repurposing of your available space to accommodate everyone safely. Without this, it might result in something of an overspill – where you have too many people in certain areas of the office in relation to what would be deemed responsible.

Facility booking systems can again be effective in resolving this issue. By giving people a clear depiction of what areas are heavily populated at the moment, and which are virtually empty, you can direct people to that space if it is befitting of the purpose they need it for.

For example, say your in-house kitchen or cafeteria is quickly becoming crowded. If certain rooms aren’t seeing much activity due to a lack of in-person meetings, you can make these available to be booked for a smaller number of people to have their lunch safely.

5. Verify and look after visitors during their stay

With post-COVID employees more conscious than ever about the health and wellbeing of people in the workplace, they will be especially cautious about any visitors and strangers on-site who could be carrying COVID-19 or another contagious disease:

40% of employees have expressed concern about the risk of not knowing if someone sick arrives on site (Envoy)

To alleviate this anxiety, facility booking software can give everyone a clearer picture of when visitors will be on-site, and can help tighten up the process of how and where they arrive.

  • Making your booking suite accessible for visitors through their mobile devices can allow them to check-in and check-out contactlessly, minimising the number of people they need to come into contact with
  • In your invite to the visitor, you can specify where they should enter from, and you can provide clear signage to the relevant meeting room through the path that will limit the number of employees the visitor comes into contact with
  • Within the automatic invite, you can also include any safety instructions the visitor needs to be aware of, such as how and where they can clean their hands upon arrival and what areas are inaccessible
  • Rooms can be prepared well in advance to accommodate for the visitor, ensuring there’s enough space for their appointment to be conducted while socially distanced

6. Identify popular rooms for better space management

Finally, by keeping tabs on how often rooms are booked, how many people typically occupy these spaces and more, facility booking software can offer valuable data on your employees’ behaviour that can help you create a safer, more efficient workplace.

In your efforts to consistently keep your employees safe, this data tracking and analysis will allow you to pinpoint if particular areas of the building often become overcrowded or heavily populated, or if certain rooms are most often blocked out. Simultaneously, you’ll also see rooms that are typically left vacant.

Through this information, you can devise strategies that will even out the spread of people across your facilities, and determine what these often-vacated rooms need to encourage employees to use these spaces more often.

Plus, if a larger proportion of your workforce will be working from home post-COVID, that could mean that a substantial amount of space is typically left unoccupied. By knowing what areas are left vacant most of the time, you can save energy and money by not having these areas lighted, heated or ventilated until someone books them for use.

Through the data generated by your facility booking software, you can make significant savings on your building’s operating expenses, while ensuring that the rooms and workspaces that are regularly used are always set to the optimal conditions for your employees.

Make managing your workspace safe and straightforward

Employee priorities are shifting post-COVID. The emphasis on protecting the health and wellbeing of your workforce has grown significantly in the past year, and it is crucial that companies are doing everything they can to remove any doubts or fears from their team’s minds over their safety.

We hope this article has effectively illustrated the big role that facility booking software can play here. From ensuring that the statuses of rooms and desks are clearly defined across your workforce, to enabling your team to better understand the behaviours and habits of your working environment, this technology offers a lot in your efforts to keep people protected.

At FSI, our own extensive Facilities Booking Suite is empowering businesses globally to maximise the use of their shared space, both in supporting the health of their employees and keeping their facilities operating as efficiently as possible:

  • Comprehensive facilities search, filterable by date, time, number of people, room features and more
  • Manage bookings, catering, inventory, visitors and more from a single space
  • Enable your employees and customers to control their bookings themselves, reducing the burden on your administrative staff

All rooms. All managed. At all times. Get started with Facilities Booking Suite today – speak to our team for more.