Like most companies around the world, COVID-19 forced Elastic to shut down its 40+ offices around the world. Distributed by intention, Elastic isn’t new to flexible work. People have had the option to work from wherever for a long time.
But the pandemic shook the ground on which that hybrid work strategy was built. It wasn’t until leaving the office that the workplace team realized what a massive undertaking bringing people back in would entail.
“We knew we needed to get a really solid tool to help up with our space planning, occupancy controls, and handling capacity,” - Corey Williams, Regional Workplace Lead, AMER
That’s when they turned to Robin Return.
No one knew how to react once COVID-19 hit. Many people felt confused or uncertain for what the future would hold.
That’s how Elastic felt after being forced out of their offices and into their homes. Not knowing how long the pandemic would keep them out of the office, Corey started her search for a workplace experience solution early on into the pandemic.
Prior to finding Robin, Corey and her colleague Maria Gaspar, Manager, Total Workplace EMEA, in London, had no way to manage a socially-distanced floor plan. They weren’t able to easily identify occupancy percentages and capacity numbers as they updated their seating strategy during planning. They also had no clear cut plan for contact tracing if someone were to fall ill once the offices reopened.
Most importantly, they didn’t have a solution to make their employees feel comfortable coming back into the office. Before COVID-19, if an employee was coming into the office, they could grab a desk or space of their choice as they pleased. That system worked well up until COVID-19 hit and safety measures and anxiety spiked. But now, they had no way to make coming into the office feel casual or seamless.
Elastic needed a flexible desk booking tool to not only manage how people used the office, but also relieve any stress around whether or not it was set up safely. They needed a live view of the office so people knew exactly where they needed to be once they entered the front doors.
With phases of reopening moving along quicker in EMEA, Corey and Maria teamed up to plan and execute a return strategy using Robin as their back-to-office solution.
“We've always had a need to organize the demand for office space and match it with the actual space available. When we asked ourselves, ‘how do we plan a staggered approach to bring people back in a safe and organized way while creating a simple experience for the employee,’ we knew exactly where to go. And Robin was our first point.” - Maria Gaspar
Creating a safe office layout with distance planning
One of the top benefits of using Robin at Elastic was the ability to organize a staggered return of their 40 locations across different countries and time zones all in one dashboard.
“The Robin Return collection of tools has allowed us to deploy a solution across all of our offices with relatively little guesswork. We're able to put in capacity controls, contact tracing, and social distancing requirements in only a few clicks.” - Corey Williams
With their floor plans uploaded and traced into the Robin dashboard, the workplace team was able to identify what a safe capacity looked like in each office in just a matter of minutes.
Using drag-and-drop functionality, Corey can pop into the dashboard at any given time to plot out what seats can be used and identify average office capacity by clicking desks to enable and adjusting the size of the social distancing bubbles.
Welcoming employees back with confidence with flexible desk booking
Using flexible desk booking tools, Elastic employees have the option to choose where and how they work when they decide to come to the office.
Using the mobile app, an employee can choose one of the available socially-distanced hot (one-day booking) or hoteled (multiple day booking) desks to book on the day(s) of their choice, right from a map that looks just like their local office.
Not only did this help the workplace team manage who was in and out of the office, it gave employees the confidence they needed to return to the office.
“For employees, Robin has provided an intuitive, simple tool where they can access, visualize, and interact with the changes in the workplace. That made their experience a lot less stressful. It eliminated the anxiety of the unknown, enabled communication between our team and them, and gave them the trust they needed in returning to a space that may feel new.” - Maria Gaspar
Simple way to contact trace for people who have been in an office
In the event of a COVID-19 case at Elastic, Robin provides a roster of everyone who was in the office within a specified time range based on desk assignments and reservations.
In a matter of minutes, Corey and Maria can pull a report tracking desk and conference room usage to identify exactly who was where and when. With employee experience being a core function of their roles, contact tracing for the office wasn’t only critical on the administrative side, but also for employee psychological safety.
“We're here to remove barriers between the decision of one thing: to get out of the comfort of your home and come into the office. Robin does just that for us: addresses the questions an employee might have, all in one tool.” - Maria Gaspar
Long-term flexible work supported through workplace analytics
Before the pandemic, Elastic was made up of a distributed hybrid workforce. After the pandemic, that way of working won’t be going anywhere.
Across the world, Elastic is relying on Robin to help them through the next phases of office reopenings until they go back to normal.
In a post-pandemic world, they plan to go back to their distributed nature, but with an even better way to manage it with Robin. Using analytics and desk and space check-in data, they’ll understand how people are using their offices, identify trends in popularity and density, and monitor how capacity changes over time.
“Elastic has had a flexible workplace strategy since our beginning. People can come into the office for as many days of the week as they choose. This only works if we have a system in place to help employees feel confident that there's a seat available for them.
Having Robin is instrumental in making sure that our flexible workplace strategy is viable long-term.” - Corey Williams