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How Hybrid Offices Contribute to Your ESG Goals

How Hybrid Offices Contribute to Your ESG Goals

ESG – Environmental, Social, and Governance – stands for the three components of a business’s sustainability performance. Three out of four consumers change their purchase preferences based on ESG factors, according to a CapGemini report. How well does ESG integrate into the new hybrid workplace?

There’s good news: Hybrid offices are a natural choice for boosting your organization’s ESG.

Energy usage

  • Zoned space utilization systems automatically group hot desks and office reservations into energy-saving zones
  • Smart building systems reduce lighting and HVAC consumption during unoccupied hours

Fun fact: One degree change in indoor temperature means thousands fewer kilowatt hours, and thousands of dollars in savings over the course of one year.

 

Reduced emissions

  • Fewer trips to the office equals fewer commuting miles per week.
  • Smart buildings’ reduced energy use results in less emission-producing energy generation.

Reduced waste

  • More meals at home means less lunch take-out waste
  • Offices produce less paper waste if document conversion (digitization) is in place.

This last topic, digitization, deserves additional discussion. Almost all businesses generate paper documents. Those records are important to business operations, and they should be retained as long as necessary.

But paper documents tend to beget more paper – distribution copies, unnecessary printouts, backup copies, etc. The cost to manufacture, transport, and print of all that paper adds up. And an estimated 45% of that paper ends up in the trash at the end of each work day.

Moreover, all that paper takes up an inordinate amount of room, an average of 9 square feet per file cabinet. Hybrid offices typically need less office space than traditional full-time offices, but they still need storage space.

After converting paper documents to digital ones, much of the document storage area can be put to better use. For example, management consultants recommend creating lounge spaces for those invaluable “water cooler moments.” By reducing your storage space, you support hybrid-office creativity and culture without additional real estate costs.

And of course a database of digitized documents allows hybrid staffers to access necessary documents wherever they are working – in the office, at home, or in a co-working space.

Digitization is the perfect complement to your other ESG efforts.  Create a “virtual filing room” and boost your sustainability rating.

 

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Return-to-the-Office: Appreciating the Invisible Hand of Operations

Return-to-the-Office: Appreciating the Invisible Hand of Operations

Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is defined as the unseen forces that propel an economy and benefit the larger community. Smith’s invisible hand was self-interested, but there’s a more altruistic invisible hand at work in the business world: The unnoticed heroes of operations.

Just like Adam Smith’s invisible hand, most of us were barely aware of operational systems and the people who manage them. “If you don’t notice us, we’re doing our job properly,” said the manager of a luxury hotel chain. And it’s true – we only notice when something doesn’t work.

In the pandemic before-times, we had many unconscious expectations. We expected the lights and the HVAC to be on. There would be coffee in the break room. Our workspaces would have furniture. Key cards for doors and lockers would function. We’d have ready access to the data we need for our team to work efficiently and effectively.

We rarely thought about how all that operational support came to be. But the pivot to remote work, and now the return-to-the-office wave, has made us far more aware of the functioning of operations behind the scenes. Unsung heroes stepped up with resources to support remote work, and they continue to support it for hybrid offices:

  • Electronic devices and systems
  • Communications and scheduling apps
  • Databases of digitized documents
  • Facilities “smart building” maintenance systems

As we return to the office, full-time or hybrid, let’s take a moment to thank the facilities managers, the practice managers, the IT/IS managers, the HR managers, the office managers who sweated to keep the wheels turning while the rest of us took zoom meetings in our sweats. Hats off to the heroes.

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Practicing Lean? How RFID Fits Into a Good Process

Practicing Lean? How RFID Fits Into a Good Process

Whether you’re managing life sciences research, product manufacturing, or a professional-services practice, process is at the heart of any successful business operation.

Waste and inefficiency inevitably lead to a downward spiral in profits, as proponents of Lean and Six Sigma have said for years. Some experts cite studies showing:

  • Teams spend almost 30% of their time on finding data and doing menial tasks rather than conducting analysis.
  • 64% of a sales rep’s counted hours are spent doing things that don’t contribute to the company’s bottom line.
  • 50% of companies also spend between $5 to $25 on manually processed invoices.

Improving processes is one of the keys to enhanced earnings. Writing in Industry Week, Jason Piatt outlines 6 criteria that go into a “good” process – one that improves operations, productivity, and throughput. Not surprisingly, RFID fits into each of these six criteria:

  1. A good process should be simple, to avoid opportunities for error. RFID tags and doorway or handheld RFID readers provide easy and error-free tracking and inventories.
  2. A good process should be robust, ready to handle unexpected environmental or emergency situations. RFID tags withstand extreme temperatures and can assist in emergency locational tracking of products and personnel.
  3. A good process should be documented to maintain accuracy and information integrity. RFID systems output periodic reports providing confirmation of other system’s documentation, such as ERP and MISys.
  4. A good process should be controlled so activities are repetitive and identical. RFID systems can be polled on a set schedule, conducted the same way every time, so areas of improvement can be identified.
  5. A good process should be communicated among all parties up and down the line. RFID’s data can easily be shared among other systems and reported to stakeholders, adding transparency and accountability to the process.
  6. A good process is error-proofed, with safeguards for novice-user mistakes. Because an RFID system is simple to use, it protects against the errors typically found in manual inventories and tracking.

Process is not merely a step-by-step series of activities. It is a deliberately designed sequence leading to delivery. A good process is flexible and test-able. It builds on test results to yield continuous improvements. Incorporate RFID into your operational process and move toward a good process.

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Life Sciences Are All-In with the Hybrid Workplace. Are You Ready?

Life Sciences Are All-In with the Hybrid Workplace. Are You Ready?

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) recently surveyed a large sample of its life sciences member companies to find out about their return-to-work plans. As the study’s authors point out, life sciences is a significant employer; when choices are made about the workplace, they have far-reaching implications for the greater community.

Transportation, housing, and family life are all affected by workplace location, as we witnessed during the rushed transition to remote work in 2020. Now that offices are reopening for in-person work, most employees are resisting a return to the full-time in-office workstyle of the “Before” times.

MassBio’s survey found that an astonishing 97% of its life sciences members are implementing a hybrid model for the long term. This embrace of the hybrid workplace is a response to employee preference, yielding benefits in employee retention, productivity, and lower overhead. It’s a win for the community too, as commutes are reduced, housing needs stabilize, and a positive work/life balance is preserved.

But how are these businesses shaping their hybrid workplace models? According to MassBio, life sciences managers say the number of days working on-site will depend very much on the individual’s role. But a McKinsey study counsels managers to consider more than just the number of days per week on-site. Managers should also ask:

  • How will meetings work best?
  • How will you balance mentorship and experience between in-office workers and at-home workers?
  • What are the in-person collaboration needs of a team working on the same project?
  • How will you demonstrate the equal value of in-office and hybrid workers?

As pointed out by the McKinsey study, the hybrid model is evolving rapidly. It will take a number of years to mature, and it will be different for each organization.

But one thing that will remain the same for every life sciences business: the need for technology that supports the hybrid model. In every life sciences endeavor, the free flow of data is essential. Paper-based data is challenging to share; a database of digitized documents lets collaborators access information quickly and securely. Imaging, or digitization, eliminates the risk of paper documents being lost between office and home, or falling into the wrong hands.

As your enterprise makes the shift to a hybrid workplace, ask yourself the questions above, and add another question: Is your document technology ready for the change?

 

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Healthcare Facilities Managers and the Statute of Repose

Healthcare Facilities Managers and the Statute of Repose

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has come to mean one thing to the average consumer: healthcare privacy. Medical information is kept strictly private, far from the prying eyes of journalists, employers, and neighborhood gossips. Many healthcare providers have come close to eliminating paper documents in their practices. Even if they use paper forms, the forms are imaged into an electronic healthcare record (EHR) with advanced crypto-security.

Healthcare facilities managers are concerned with HIPAA only insofar as they need to ensure sufficient storage space for paper documents, and adequate operational resources for the organization’s IT needs. But facilities managers, like healthcare professionals, generate a sizeable number of paper documents even when a building’s design originated on computers. And those documents have risk management implications just like patients’ documents.

Unlike patient documents, FM documents are generally very public. Drawings, permits, project schedules, punch lists – all are public, and subject to a legal doctrine called the Statute of Repose. The statute of repose is similar to the statute of limitations; it sets a limit on the amount of time a design client can hold a design/construction professional liable for errors. If there are any complaints or legal actions, all the supporting documents will be needed.

As a facilities manager (i.e., the client), you’ll want to retain all construction-related documents for at least the duration of the statute of repose, if not for several years beyond, as required by risk management policies. That’s a lot of paper, and it takes up a lot of storage space for a number of years. Plus, the paper documents have all the usual vulnerabilities of paper: fire, floods, pests, and pilferage, as well as loss or misfiling.

Imaging a healthcare facility’s documents offers the same advantages that come with imaged patient documents: compact storage, security, and information accessibility including authorized search and sharing. If there is a need to refer to any of these documents, they can be retrieved with electronic speed, much faster than a laborious hunt through numerous flat files.

Healthcare facilities managers are focused on the needs of their healthcare organization and the patients it serves. But when they include their own document conversion needs along with those of the other departments, they will gain efficiency and effectiveness that makes them even better at their work. And they are managing risks during the period of the statute of repose.

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

Labs: No Two Alike, Except for These Three Things

“There is no one-size-fits-all,” says Gensler Research, regarding lab design and adaptive reuse. Like people, each lab has its own unique purpose and form. A lab, unlike typical office space, may have to take into account ventilation, vibration, volatile chemicals, greater-than-usual utilities requirements, or dangers to workers and the general public, to name just a few of their special challenges.

But no matter what type of lab yours may be, from analytics and QC to biohazard or R&D, these three operational elements help any lab fulfill its mission.

Storage cabinets and casework – Cluttered labs are unsafe labs. Whatever the science specialty, whatever the experimental design, every lab needs to protect items from contamination, damage, loss, or degradation:

  • Equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Documents
  • Electronics
  • Test and experimental supplies
  • Researchers’ personal items

Your current lab storage may be perfect for your processes today. But once a research phase comes to an end, the layout and type of storage may not fit the next phase. Labs outfitted with modular casework can reconfigure their storage to suit the new functions, rather than scrapping the existing storage – a benefit to the budget and the environment.

Data management – The essence of scientific investigation is the collection and management of data. Paper documents may be the only option in some labs, especially if electronics interfere with experimental processes. But data on paper takes time to access and analyze, and paper itself is a fragile medium. Document imaging converts paper-based data to electronic data for fast, easy use. Moreover, it preserves the data in a secure form, controlling accessibility and preventing the loss of invaluable information.

Equipment and materials management – Labs’ budgets can skyrocket when expensive equipment is lost. Time-dependent research can be wasted when materials can’t be located in inventory. And hand-written inventories are notoriously error-prone, not to mention an expensive use of researchers’ time. RFID asset management systems take the burden off researchers by automatically tracking quantities and whereabouts of these vital components. Equipment is easy to find, and there’s never a shortage of essential elements.

All three of these design and operations technologies contribute to safe and efficient lab functionality. Just as important, they have a positive effect on your lab’s bottom line, saving time and money. It’s not theoretical; it’s proven. Talk to a storage and organization consultant and review the options.

 

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