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Workplace Optimization, Explained

three employees walking into the office
by
Stephanie Tilton
Published on

Gone are the days when the office defined the work experience. In today’s hybrid work world, the workplace is about the employee work experience, customer satisfaction and workplace management as much as about a space.

After all, according to The State of Workplace Experience in 2023, Gartner projects that a large majority of younger workers will prefer to spend their time in several office locations. More specifically, 80% of millennial workers will prefer to spend their time in various workplaces rather than full-time remote or full-time work from the office by 2027, up from 61% in 2021.

As a result, organizations thrive through successful workplace AND workforce optimization that yields high employee engagement. In other words, they address the full workplace experience, which covers everything from culture and operations to technology, resources and performance management.

Before we dive in, let's explore the difference between workplace and workforce optimization. Sometimes used interchangeably, these two terms are slightly different:

Workforce optimization: A set of strategies and practices that aim to improve employee and organizational efficiency and decrease operational costs through using data.
Workplace optimization: A set of strategies, more specifically aimed at the office space, which sets out to identify better ways to structure physical office spaces, decreasing real estate costs through using data and resource-booking solutions.

The Workplace and the Office Go Hand in Hand

Nowadays, employees engage in tasks, collaborate and communicate from just about anywhere. Whether a home office, a co-working space, an office building, or the local coffee shop, they are in a space where work unfolds. Add up these physical work locations – wherever they are found – and the result is the overarching workplace where the organization’s resources come together to achieve a common goal.

A dynamic element, the workplace is the heart of an organization, one that flourishes with the right attention and resources. In fact, an optimized workplace results in an elevated employee experience, organizational growth and, ultimately, improved customer service and satisfaction. By addressing critical office elements, workplace leaders can create a productive, engaging, and welcoming work environment and culture for all.

The workplace is the single entity that connects all of your offices.

Synchronize Office Locations

As nontraditional locations supplement – and even replace – traditional offices, workforce management includes practices that ensure organizational success, employee development, successful workforce optimization strategies and employee performance while making their own lives easier. With that in mind, building a workplace that best supports people starts with policies that ensure organizational uniformity and harmony.

One effective approach is to develop a handbook or guide that outlines overarching goals and promotes the same work culture for everyone. This guide can clarify workplace expectations while communicating how the organization enables flexibility to accommodate individual needs in different locations.

Complement this by treating physical locations with some uniformity. According to the 2023 Technology Spaces Report, organizations are most productive when they strike a balance between allowing employees the flexibility to flourish and facilitating the connection and collaboration at the heart of the workplace experience.

With that in mind, drive effective workforce optimization strategies by ensuring all employees are equipped with a certain set of basic office equipment – everything from office chair and desk to laptop and applications, enabling virtual collaboration.

Build upon this by using the same or similar systems to manage work happening at all locations, and synchronizing data to arrive at a holistic view of all offices. Such a view provides the visibility and insights needed to continually optimize the workplace and drive current workforce's skills toward optimization.

Create equitable practices across company locations to maintain cohesion.

Workforce Optimization Starts With Systems and Processes

While work now happens from anywhere, the office remains central to enabling productivity and collaboration -- both key to employee engagement, employee attendance and customer satisfaction. As such, employees require certain resources when in office. That means workplace management can span everything from the right desk and chair to the ability to reserve equipment, a meeting room and other essential resources. Setting them up in this way is core to workforce optimization.

When it comes to shared resources, employees want assurance the things they need are readily available. Workplace leaders can ensure workforce optimization and employee satisfaction by setting up systems, processes and workflows for reserving resources.

For instance, establish policies for booking things (use our template as inspiration), evaluate and deploy integrations that simplify reservations, and codify booking policies across locations. With the right elements in place for workforce optimization, employees can easily and quickly book needed resources and operate effectively without barriers.

With a workplace management software, like Robin, teams can easily locate and book meeting rooms.

Automation for Increased Employee Productivity

In today’s digital age, automation, workplace management, employee performance, quality management and team satisfaction are intertwined. No wonder a recent Robin survey of 300 workplace leaders found that nearly 40% of them used office automation tools either “daily” or “fairly regularly.”

For both leaders and employees, automating repetitive, manual tasks frees time for more important work that helps drive workforce performance. For example, workplace automation can analyze historical usage data to suggest rooms based on past bookings and meeting needs, number of attendees, and required resources. It can do the same when it comes to recommending a certain desk or space. Think of this as workforce optimization software.

By automating processes in this way, leaders save employees from the effort and time spent searching for the right resources. In other words, they boost employee productivity.  

Consider how workplace automation can recommend add-ons based on the meeting type. Say a meeting invite includes a client email address. The solution might suggest sending them a visitor form, or adding a catering request – something an employee could easily overlook but will appreciate.

Free up time employees spend looking for open rooms by giving them an automated booking solution.

Use Actionable Insights to Drive Operational Efficiency

Optimizing the workplace to accommodate individual preferences while fostering a cohesive company culture is essential yet challenging. Ultimately, workplace leaders need a way to measure the success of their workplace strategy by evaluating how well their policies, processes and systems are working.

That’s where workplace analytics and employee feedback come into play. With the right data and insights delivered via workplace management software, it’s possible to understand and improve office spaces and experiences.

The right workplace analytics tools provide leaders with a view into office space usage, resource needs, space utilization over time and even the employee experience. By identifying trends, leaders can make data-driven decisions that boost the effectiveness of spaces and employee productivity. Simply put, they can turn workplace data into a strategic advantage that can decrease operational costs.

Imagine better outfitting spaces with insights into resource preferences – such as knowing that desks with second monitors are used more than desks without them. Or picture removing barriers between employees and the office with insight into what drives engagement – for instance, knowing that rooms with video conferencing technology are booked 5x more than those without.

Such insights are the key to continually optimizing the workplace and employee experience, while also reducing operational costs and optimizing business operations by eliminating underused resources. In other words, they are essential to workforce optimization and performance management. And they are available via workforce optimization tools.

Eliminate confusion around where to sit, give teams visibility into where teams sit when booking their desks.

Conclusion: It’s Time the Office Worked for You

The transformative power of hybrid work is evident in higher productivity and employee engagement, better work-life balance, lower operational costs and, ultimately, higher customer satisfaction. Knowing that a flexible work model combining remote and in-office locations offers so many advantages, an optimized workplace is taking center stage.

Recognizing and enabling the needs of the entire organization is no small task – yet essential to successful businesses. By calling upon smart, consolidated technology and the right workforce optimization solution, leaders can put in place the right mix of elements that enable better workplace experiences, streamlined performance management and a space where employees thrive.

featured report

The Office Space Report 2023