Most companies haven’t fully embraced an organized, structured hybrid work model just yet. Our latest research shows that most organizations, especially in the technology sector, still utilize fully flexible schedules, which has benefits; however, we see clearly that it has a lot of challenges too.

Organizations, small and large, are re-evaluating options for more structured hybrid work models.

The technology you choose is the most essential element of organizing your hybrid work policy. Return to office software (also known as hybrid work software) is vital to achieving high adoption, better employee engagement, and clarity about the process.

Based on our experience working with hundreds of flexible companies worldwide, we created a complete requirements list to help you structure the process of choosing the right software. You can also download our excel RFP file for free or open it as a Google sheet (for that, you will need to make a copy of the file after logging in with your Gmail account).

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1. Advanced Desk Booking Capabilities

Starting with the most important part – employees should be able to book hot desks easily on a visual office map. Following is our list of very common hot desk booking requirements:

  • Easily reserve a hot desk in advance (desk hoteling)
  • Book a desk based on prior selection (smarter suggestions);
  • Reserve a desk for multiple days;
  • Place a recurring booking;
  • Reserve a desk on the day of the visit (hot desking);
  • Reserve team collaboration zone (a.k.a. office neighborhood);
  • Admins can assign permanent desks to employees and assign neighborhoods/zones to teams;
  • Admins (and team leads/managers) can edit/adjust employee reservations;
  • Admins can modify bookable desks on the floor plan;
  • Admins can create booking rules so that certain neighborhoods (or locations) are available to specific teams;

Note: For more ideas on improving your hot desk management processes – read our extensive piece here.

2. Team Collaboration, Smart Weekly Scheduling, and Hybrid Workplace Policies

The next section is about nurturing collaboration and helping bring your hybrid teams together in the office. You should look for various features and options that can boost collaboration within and between teams or enforce more specific and structured rules that employees should follow. Following is our list of collaboration features:

  • Allow tagging ‘favorite’ coworkers;
  • Easily see who’s in today or in the future;
  • Ability to see favorite or selected coworkers’ reservations in the future;
  • Advanced in-app or platform notification system for daily visits, teams, favorite coworkers, location, etc.;
  • Allow inviting teammates into the office;
  • Allow planning when and where you’ll be working for the week ahead
  • Ability to share status with coworkers, whether working from home, office or nearby coworking space.
  • Admins can define when employees should be in the office (e.g., 2 times a week or a month)
  • Admins can select which employees (or teams) can come to the office on what days of the week
  • Employees can easily understand and follow the policy assigned to their team
  • Admins can report on how people comply with current policies and improve them if needed

Smart Hybrid Scheduling

3. Meeting Room Booking and Management

Next to reserving a desk is the ability to easily book a meeting or conference room. Returning to the office should be about collaboration, brainstorming, and co-creating customer value. Booking meeting spaces should be simple and easy yet powerful to allow for the more complex scenarios of a modern organization.

  • Find available meeting spaces with an advanced search based on location, capacity, and room amenities;
  • Book a conference room in advance (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, …);
  • Book a conference room on the day of the visit;
  • Make ad-hoc bookings on the room displays or office map;
  • Employees can create recurring bookings for their dailies or monthly meetings;
  • Automatically remove ghost bookings if no one is using the room
  • Admins can create more advanced booking policies such as – setting maximum booking duration, preventing back-to-back bookings, etc.;
  • Admins can reserve rooms on behalf of other employees;

Higher education institutions that need university scheduling software, find those resource booking functionalities very useful.

Note: Read our guidelines for better meeting room management as well as our article on why using an Excel booking template for meeting rooms is not sustainable.

4. Deep Platform Integration with your existing Tech Stack

All features should be available on the web and mobile. This is the most common expectation from your return to office software. However, you should also add to your requirements list a deep platform integration with Microsoft, Google, or Slack:

  • Deep integration with Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Google Chrome for desk booking, collaboration, etc;
  • Employees should easily log in via SSO with Microsoft, Google, or Slack credentials;
  • Native integration with Slack or Microsoft Teams should push all important notifications;
  • Meeting room reservations should be synced two ways in Outlook or Google Calendar;
  • Employees should be able to reserve meeting rooms from within Outlook or Google Calendar;

Integrating your hybrid work software with your tech stack will ensure better employee engagement and satisfaction. Our research points out that companies that fully integrate their platform of choice achieve much better product adoption.

Hybrid Work Integrations

5. Check-ins, Presence Tracking, and Access control

Although advanced presence tracking is not key to successfully implementing hybrid work, it’s important to understand better how your workplaces are used. Following is our list of basic presence tracking features:

  • Check in to the reserved desk upon arrival via QR code;
  • Check in to the reserved desk earlier via the mobile app or the web portal;
  • Remove ghost reservations if not checked in within a timeframe;
  • Automatically check-in via WiFi SSID when connected to the network;
  • Integration with occupancy sensors to show real-time availability of rooms and desks on the office map;
  • If an employee confirms their visit, instruct the access control system to activate the employee for the day;
  • Ability to use the mobile app as a digital badge for physical access;

The most important element of presence tracking is to collect all available data so that you can further analyze it to polish your hybrid work policy.

6. Advanced Space Management

The modern return-to-office software focuses on your employees. Unlike the previous generation of IWMS systems, the new hybrid work solutions extensively focus on the experience. However, space management is still crucial to successfully adopting hybrid work models.

  • Admins can easily upload and manage floor plans;
  • Integration with IWMS for auto-upload and update of floor plans (optional);
  • Admins can manage resources – locations, desks, meeting spaces, parking spaces, lockers, etc;
  • Ability to easily manage neighborhoods (zones);
  • Ability for admins to configure all features by location;
  • Admins can manage amenities for all spaces and locations;
  • Admins can create permissions and restrict access based on rules;

Space management is a huge topic and a wide range of functionality might be available in different systems. We will leave it up to you to decide how deep space management capabilities you need.

7. Ticketing & Issue Tracking

As a facility manager, you know how hard it is to always be on top of the issues in every workplace. Dealing with issues is hard. The software part of it shouldn’t be hard, though. You should find the balance of simplicity and advanced features:

  • Allow employees to submit a ticket with detailed information about the problem, including a picture
  • Employees can easily track the progress of their issues
  • Admins can configure the issue tracking system in great detail – workflows, data, etc
  • Tickets can be easily integrated with external systems such as Jira Service Management, ServiceNow, etc

Ticket management systems can be as advanced as you can imagine. For the most part, you should look for how easy it is for employees to submit tickets. Then, the tickets can freely flow into more advanced systems if you already use one.

8. Visitor Management and Integration

The essence of visitor management is to welcome guests, right? That’s easy. There are a lot of apps that do that. Most return-to-office software platforms will include visitor management too. Here’s the list of basic features to look for;

  • Collect visitor information on entry with a tablet app
  • Allow employees and visitors to make a contactless sign-in
  • Notify employees when their guests arrive for a meeting
  • Manage deliveries easily and conveniently

As noted, and more importantly, the system should integrate natively with your existing visitor management system.

9. Security & Compliance

Security and compliance are one of the most critical elements of your new return-to-office technology. There are a number of recent cases where popular systems were breached and employee data leaked. As scary as this is, certain checks can help you mitigate the risks associated with data leaks.

  • The provider should be SOC 2 / Type 2 and ISO 271000 compliant
  • The software provider must be GDPR compliant
  • Integration with Okta, Microsoft, or Google for employee Single Sign-On (SSO) and SCIM provisioning
  • The system should use advanced data encryption in transit and at rest
  • The system must be hosted in an advanced public cloud, such as Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, etc

Although knowing how secure a system is hard, you must check the provider’s security pages extensively. You can also ask when the last penetration test they underwent was and demand access to the results. If you have a budget, you can also ask to do penetration testing yourself.

10. Workplace Analytics

Workplace analytics is a huge topic. You can go wild here. Your expectations for analytics can be as big as your imagination is. There’s so much valuable data in good workplace management software! Here’s our list to start, but as noted, go wild and add all the awesome insights you need to make data-driven decisions:

  • Advanced reports on daily, weekly, and monthly utilization of desks and spaces
  • Advanced reports on teams and employees’ hybrid work compliance
  • Reports on presence tracking and check-ins
  • Admins can report on employee workplace engagement
  • Ability to create custom reports
  • Ability to schedule sending of reports and dashboards
  • Admins can gain valuable insights and benchmarks about workplace adoption with similar companies

Note: Learn more on how you can cut costs by up to 40% by better understanding your workplace.

Flexible working is here to stay! The only way forward is to adapt and utilize great technology to help you navigate the ever-changing world of how we work and help you craft the future of work for your organization.

Technology can play a key role in helping you in this transition and ensure higher office occupancy, better collaboration, and happier and more engaged employees!

Get our free RFP template for hybrid work software here.

 

 

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".