Hybrid work has taken the world by storm. And while this worldwide transition has affected both employers and employees, perhaps none have been impacted more than facilities managers.

Facilities management and hybrid working must now go hand in hand to ensure an effective post-pandemic workplace — which is no small feat. There are many challenges to consider, including how to optimize office space while keeping remote workers connected to the office.

This comprehensive guide is designed to take facilities managers through each challenge and offer strategies to help overcome them, creating the ultimate hybrid workplace.


Quick Summary

  • While hybrid work is set to expand in the future, the office will still play a vital role in keeping everyone connected.
  • Facilities management must prepare for new challenges to create a safe, clean, and productive work environment for both in-office and remote workers.
  • The right tools, such as OfficeRnD Hybrid, can make it easier for facility managers to optimize their workplace while keeping costs down.

The Future of Hybrid Work

There’s no denying that the future of work is hybrid and it’s easy to see why. Recent survey data published by the World Economic Forum indicate that the majority of global employees prefer hybrid work. The report showed that:

  • 68% of global employees prefer it to other forms of work
  • 85% of employees reported saving both time and money by commuting less
  • 67% of employees reported having a better work-life balance
  • 54% of employees believe hybrid work provides greater flexibility

employee working at home

Employers, too, have seen the benefits of hybrid work in, for instance:

While this way of working greatly benefits both employees and employers, companies should look out for the challenge of proximity bias.

If left untreated, proximity bias can create a culture in which in-office employees (including those hired in hybrid roles) are rewarded simply for being present, while those working remotely are overlooked.

Luckily, there’s a way to address this challenge, as you’ll see below.

How the Office Still Plays a Role in Hybrid Work

Despite more and more people choosing to work from home, the office is still a necessary hub for collaboration.

Certain tasks are much more effective when done in person, such as:

  • Negotiating
  • Decision-making
  • Training
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaborating with others to develop innovative and creative ideas

With that being said, keep in mind that many employees now have the choice to work wherever they want. So if you want to motivate employees to go to the office more often, you’ll have to make it an appealing place to work.

facility manager and office workers

Challenges of Facilities Management and Hybrid Working

Hybrid work presents a number of challenges to the facilities management process. The typical roles and responsibilities of facilities management departments in a hybrid workplace include the following:

  • Helping leaders prepare to adopt hybrid work.
  • Helping managers and their teams smoothly transition to a hybrid work model.
  • Creating a safe, efficient, and productive work environment for in-office and remote workers.

Facilities managers have a lot to consider to make the transition to a hybrid work environment a safe, effective, and productive one.

Space Management

Hybrid work means there’ll be fewer people onsite.

However, even with a smaller office, you still have to make efficient use of the space. Otherwise, unnecessarily high costs in property, utilities, and food could result.

If there are too many workstations, meeting rooms, and activity-based work areas relative to the number of people using them, you could be spending too much.

On the other hand, if there are not enough workstations and similar areas, productivity can suffer. For example, too few activity-based work areas can lead to reduced collaboration between colleagues.

You’ve got to get it just right when you redesign the office. Fortunately, tools such as OfficeRnD Hybrid’s workplace analytics software make this a breeze. With it, you can:

  • Track desk usage, space usage, and other occupancy metrics with reports and dashboards delivered straight to your inbox.
  • Use these insights to learn how employees collaborate and engage in the workplace.
  • See how your teams have adopted your hybrid work policies so you can adjust them to fit your organization’s culture.

Having such a rich set of data right at your fingertips can empower you to develop an office that supports your flexible workforce’s needs while keeping costs down. Getting rid of under-utilized office space can help you reduce costs by up to 40%.

facility management

Utilities

There may be fewer people using the office now, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to confine themselves to the same room, floor, or heck, even building. It’s important for organizations to reconsider their utility usage to accommodate this new dynamic.

Installing motion sensors can show you which rooms and areas employees use the most. By helping reduce your energy usage (and electric bill), it’s also an environmentally friendly solution.

Security

Facilities management also plays a crucial role in maintaining a safe and secure working environment.

Building security is a top priority, considering that the flow of people coming and going can change on a daily basis. That may require implementing access controls, devising a system that logs visitors entering and exiting the building, or restricting access to certain areas to authorized personnel.

Data security is another critical aspect of facilities management. Implementing digital tools like desk booking and work scheduling software can help streamline operations and provide an extra layer of security that protects confidential and highly sensitive data.

Let’s not forget about remote and hybrid workers who may have sensitive data on their personal devices and networks. Unfortunately, malware, phishing, and other cybersecurity threats are all too common these days.

Although these concerns may not have been their responsibility in the past, facilities management professionals may need to collaborate with IT departments to comprehensively address security issues in a hybrid and remote work environment.

control entry access

The Employee Experience

Considering that 97% of employees want to work remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their careers, coming into the office should be a positive experience for your team.

That means the workplace should be safe and clean. Even with the pandemic behind us, those with compromised immune systems may have reservations about returning to the office, so make sure the space is cleaned and maintained regularly to prevent the spread of diseases.

The office must also facilitate collaboration between onsite and remote employees. Choosing the right communication channels, for example, can bridge this gap and ensure that everyone gets the information they need on time.

Don’t discount the impact of coffee, snacks, and comfortable seats, either. Keeping your kitchen or lunchroom stocked up and investing in ergonomic chairs can be the difference between happy employees or a pile of two-weeks notices.

7 Strategies to Overcome Challenges in Facilities Management and Hybrid Working

There are a number of different strategies to overcome the challenges involved in facilities management and hybrid working. Here are just a few of them:

1. Design the Office With Activity-Based Working in Mind

Activity-based working (ABW) isn’t just a great way to save space — it also allows you to create office spaces with purpose and give employees the flexibility they need to do great work.

For example, you can:

  • Create meeting rooms for brainstorming and collaboration
  • Encourage socialization in certain areas, such as the kitchen or break room
  • Allow phone calls in phone booths
  • Provide desks or quiet rooms for focused work

office environment

2. Set Up Work Scheduling

Instituting a hybrid work schedule can help to maximize your hybrid workforce’s productivity.

Just imagine if everyone came to the office on Mondays and worked from home on Fridays. Mondays would be overcrowded, while Fridays would be completely bare. This could also lead to unnecessary spending on rent, facilities, energy, and food.

With work scheduling, employees schedule when they’ll work at home and when they’ll work in the office. This lets facilities management know when certain employees are coming in. For individuals with roles that require them to be in the office all the time, you can set up a desk or workstation specifically for them.

OfficeRnD Hybrid helps teams plan and perform their workweek with its smart hybrid scheduling software. You can:

  • Use the Schedule page to organize your work week by selecting the location you’ll be working from onsite or remotely.
  • See what’s happening in the workplace, how many employees are going to the office every day, what desks they’ll be using, and how many onsite meetings you have planned.
  • Discover which days to come to the office based on workplace policies and invites from other teammates.

Thanks to OfficeRnD Hybrid’s smart scheduling software, Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) encouraged employees to come back to the office to collaborate after two challenging years.

3. Implement Desk Hoteling or Hot Desking

In a traditional workplace, employees can just clock in and head to their workstations without thinking too much about it. Unfortunately, that isn’t possible in a hybrid workplace. Because the space is much too small for every single employee to be in the office, not everyone will have desks to work at.

That’s where desk hoteling and hot desking come in.

Even though the terms are often used interchangeably, desk hoteling and hot desking aren’t the same. Desk hoteling refers to the practice of employees reserving a desk ahead of time — like booking a hotel room — whereas in hot desking, an employee chooses a desk after they arrive at work.

While it’s possible to manage both setups with a free hot desk booking template in Excel, the time and effort required to make it work may be more trouble than it’s worth.

A better choice for most companies is a fully optimized desk booking system or a hot desk solution, like OfficeRnD Hybrid. Here’s how it works:

  • Give everyone a live floor plan of the office with available desks and rooms.
  • Find and book desks via your mobile phone, the web, Teams, Outlook, or Google.
  • Invite colleagues to collaborate — once you book a desk with our desk management software, invite a teammate to join you at a nearby desk or book a desk for them via our delegated bookings functionality.

OfficeRnD Hybrid’s desk booking system worked so well that clothing manufacturer Dewhirst no longer has arguments about who sits where!

hot desking

4. Choose the Right Tools and Technology

Technology plays a vital role in bridging the gap between in-office workers and their remote colleagues. It also helps you to foster a more collaborative and productive environment.

Implementing tools such as project management software can be a great way to help hybrid teams collaborate effectively. Meanwhile, video conferencing platforms give teams the ability to join meetings no matter where they work (just make sure to follow calendar invite etiquette when sending out invites). Then there are tools like task trackers, time trackers, and other types of software designed to boost your company’s productivity.

OfficeRnD Hybrid makes it easy to nurture collaboration amongst hybrid teams. The platform allows you to:

  • Book meeting rooms through the apps you already use, like Microsoft Teams or Google Calendar.
  • Prevent ghost meetings by confirming meetings with check-ins.
  • See who’s in the office each day and which desk, office, or conference room they’ve reserved.
  • Invite your colleagues to the office to collaborate on a project.

OfficeRnD Hybrid can easily integrate with any organization’s existing tech stack. In fact, food manufacturer Müller now books 98% of all their meeting rooms directly from Outlook or Teams.

The right technology can also help you build a more sustainable workplace.

5. Let Data Drive Your Decision-Making

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world, collecting and applying data for decision-making in facilities management is absolutely crucial.

Having this data empowers facility managers to make informed decisions, optimize resources, supercharge efficiency, and take facility performance to new heights.

As mentioned above, installing motion sensors in every room and stairway provides real-time data on how many people are using specific areas and how often each space is used.

Having this information available can help facilities management teams optimize space usage, energy efficiency, maintenance planning, and safety and security.

office analytics

But having access to and making sense of this data doesn’t have to be difficult and expensive. With OfficeRnD Hybrid, you can find all the data you need in just a few taps. For instance, you can:

  • Track how employees are using the office with reports and dashboards delivered straight to your inbox.
  • See how many people booked a meeting room versus how many showed up to help prevent no-shows.
  • Gauge occupancy rates so you can optimize productivity, increase collaboration, and save space.

6. Collaborate With Other Departments

Teamwork makes the dream work, and coordinating with the human resources (HR) and information technology (IT) departments can ensure a smooth transition to hybrid work.

Facilities management brings expertise to optimize physical spaces, HR understands employees’ needs and preferences, and IT specializes in technology solutions.

Combining their knowledge and perspectives means the trio can make well-rounded decisions that cater to both the physical and human aspects of the workplace.

This is especially true when selecting software that deals with both physical spaces and employees, such as desk booking and work scheduling solutions.

It’s useful to have employee input, as well. In fact, employees who contribute to their organization’s work design perform 2.5 times better and are four times more likely to report lower fatigue. Talk about making the dream work!

employees and work design

In addition, don’t sleep on agile project management.

7. Streamline Facilities Management with Software

Facility managers have plenty to worry about without having to keep track of which app does what and which spreadsheet goes where. Streamlining repetitive, manual tasks not only saves precious time and money but also gives employees the flexibility they need to thrive in a hybrid environment.

This is where OfficeRnD Hybrid truly shines. It can help you with the following tasks:

  • Managing assets, scheduling cleaning and maintenance jobs, and tracking expenses.
  • Customizing your workplace to reflect your culture.
  • Increasing employee engagement with hybrid workplace apps.

Restaurant group Tavistock used to manage their spaces manually using Excel spreadsheets. But ever since they switched to OfficeRnD Hybrid, they’ve saved a lot of money by getting rid of excess real estate while preserving in-office collaboration.

officernd hybrid

Create the Ultimate Hybrid Workplace With OfficeRnD Hybrid

As more and more businesses transition to hybrid work, facilities managers must be prepared to deal with challenges as they crop up. What was done during the pre-pandemic days no longer cuts it. That’s because offices now play a different role for employees, while technology plays a bigger part in the workplace than it did before. This is why it’s crucial you choose the right tools.

Let OfficeRnD Hybrid bridge the gap between facilities management and hybrid working.

The software is packed with features that streamline every aspect of facilities management. From setting up work scheduling and desk hoteling to hot desking and collaboration, all the data you need is right at your fingertips. It’s also simple to use and versatile for all types of situations — just plug and play.

Get started for free with OfficeRnD Hybrid and see for yourself!

FAQ

What Is a Hybrid Approach in Facilities Management?

A hybrid approach in facilities management combines the best of in-office and remote work. The office is used for connection and collaboration, while remote workers focus better at home.

What Do Managers Do in Hybrid Work?

Managers do largely the same things in hybrid work as they do in traditional work, except they must provide more support to their team. To become a successful manager in the age of hybrid work, empower your employees to make decisions for themselves, and encourage team problem-solving.

What Are the Trends in Facility Management in 2023?

The 2023 trends in facility management include the following:

  • Adopting a paperless approach
  • Implementing an energy-saving plan
  • Being proactive instead of reactive
  • Using advanced technology for maintenance
  • Automating repetitive tasks
Miro Miroslavov
CEO and Co-founder of OfficeRnD
Miro Miroslavov is a software engineer turned into a tech entrepreneur. In 2015 he co-founded OfficeRnD - a leading flex space and hybrid work management platform. As a CEO at OfficeRnD, he grew the company from inception to a leading software vendor that serves thousands of customers worldwide. He is a big fan of flexible working and is on a mission to "Making Flexible Working the Way of Working".