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Oktra manages their office return and plans for new ways of work with desk analytics

Industry
Office Design
employees
190

New ways of work means companies need better office data.

Amidst the uncertainty of returning to work, that’s what Lorna Killick, Head of People & Workplaces at Oktra, an office design company, quickly realized. Her team was forced to close their London HQ once the pandemic hit despite being in the middle of planning for an office move.

Oktra originally partnered with Robin to use desk booking to manage a new way of flexible work and quickly realized they needed more. They needed a solution to safely reopen their office and better understand how people were using their space in the interim. Robin had everything they were looking for.

Lorna immediately realized the value of the analytics dashboard within Robin, allowing her to measure the success of their return-to-office strategy, but also plan and optimize for a flexible future.

Challenges

Prior to moving offices in June 2020, Lorna was on the hunt for an effective workplace management solution. Their previous solution didn’t support Oktra’s flexible way of working, with designers, consultants, and project managers in and out of the office throughout the day.

Instead of booking by the hour, people were required to book a full day. With COVID-19, full day bookings are the protocol, but this didn’t fit with Oktra’s long-term flexible work strategy; Lorna really wanted a solution that could support various types of desk booking.

The desk booking tool also provided no follow-up utilization data, giving Oktra little to no insight into how her office space was being used in order to improve it. 

Solutions

Lorna needed a better solution for desk bookings, and for her workplace.  Fortunately with Robin, she got that and then some.

Originally she wanted Robin for 15-20 desks in a quiet library setting. As soon as COVID-19 hit, the company decided to alter their original plan and use the collection of return-to-office tools for their entire three-floor office.

Socially-distanced desks to return with confidence

“Robin was a critical tool in terms of getting people back to the office. First of all, in giving people the confidence that the social distancing was observed.” 

Using an interactive map that looks just like their London HQ, Lorna quickly drafted a safe, socially-distanced floor plan  using desk parameters, circles with drag-and-drop functionality to adjust the size and placement to identify bookable and non-bookable desks. She controls which desks are bookable and which are restricted to use, all while establishing capacity limits based on the city rules.

When rules in the UK changed from two meters to one+ meter apart, for example, Lorna was able to easily adjust in the distance and make more desks bookable immediately.

The ability to book a desk within Robin is one of the company’s most important COVID measures in place. It’s the first pass for employees who want to come into the office. All are welcome as long as they book their desk in advance. If they check the office map and no desks are available, that means the space is at capacity and they’re out of luck. 

Desks analytics to optimize the office

With desk analytics, Oktra has been able to manage the office more effectively, feel confident in their current office setup, and understand key insights to justify real estate decisions. 

With a first come, first serve mentality, Robin made it easy to manage who could come into the office at any given time for Lorna and her team. In the early days after the pandemic, they were only allowing 23 people to enter the 12,000 square foot space. Today, they’re up over 150% (58 people) as local rules have changed. 

“Our building asks for occupancy levels every week and I can go into Robin’s analytics and give them the number quicker than ever.”

On a weekly and monthly basis, Lorna can check who actually went into the office to get a feel for who has an appetite to come in and who might be anxious about it. She’s able to see at a glance that people much prefer sitting at desks with monitors on the first floor over the agile space on the ground floor. 

“Those are always first to go. The first floor is always much, much busier. We’re getting deeper insights into how people are using the office.”

From one dashboard view, Lorna can check things like:

  • Who’s in the office today (a live view of daily desk usage)
  • Historical views of desk usage to analyze office trends over time
  • Who’s been in and when for contact tracing purposes
  • What desk availability looks like across different floors
  • How desk usage one day compares with the rest of the week
  • Which days of the week tend to be the busiest
  • How the total number of desks booked in the office change over time

Insights to adapt the office space and plan for new ways of work

“The analytics have taught us that people come here to book the traditional desks, much more often than the touchdown areas. They’re coming to the office for a setup they can’t get at home.”

Lorna and her team have continued to monitor and improve the space as their employees use it. They plan to continue increasing capacity in January 2021. In the short-term, Oktra will use Robin to manage who’s in and out of the office. 

Long-term, they’ll use the tool to support their flexible working styles.

“Robin has been a revelation in terms of supporting flexible work because the mobile app is incredibly easy to use and set up.

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