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A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

A Reason to Return: Office Amenities Help Bring Employees Back

Workplace amenities used to be associated with tech start-ups – meals, game rooms, and bring-your-dog-to-work were some of the popular perks that kept tech workers in the office. Why go home when everything you want is there? Today’s newer office buildings are taking a page from the tech world, offering an array of amenities like gyms, concierge services, and lounges.

It’s all part of tenants’ commitment to hybrid offices, a staffing retain-and-return game plan for many companies. Survey after survey shows the same results: Employees do not want to go back to full-time in-office operations. And employers are discovering that the hybrid workstyle has benefits that they don’t want to give up, including greater productivity, lower real estate costs, and happy employees.

Employees are willing to trade space for the hybrid workstyle. More than half of law firm employees recently surveyed said they would trade assigned seating/offices for greater flexibility. That’s good news for employers, who can reduce their office footprint when they don’t have to find space for all their staff each and every day.

The amenities offered by first-class office buildings aren’t free, of course, and a prudent practice manager or facilities manager will try to balance that extra cost by reducing the amount of space in a new lease. The same law firm survey showed the average square feet per attorney has decreased from 760 s.f. to 625 s.f., and other industry sectors are making similar reductions.

But reducing personnel space can only go so far. For many professional practices, paper documents take up an outsize proportion of the office footprint. High density storage systems help reduce the space needed for document storage. Digitization goes even further.

Just one filing cabinet takes up 9 square feet, at an average real estate cost of $540 per year (and that’s before factoring in the higher price of amenity-rich buildings). Document conversion eliminates the need for that space, and the cost associated with it.

Digitization lets you have your cake (or gym or lounge) and eat it too. When employers can offer appealing amenities to encourage staff to return to the office, without increasing their real estate costs, it’s a win for everyone.

 

Photo © Iriana Shiyan / AdobeStock

The Just-Right Redesign: Hybrid Office Adaptations

The Just-Right Redesign: Hybrid Office Adaptations

Yes, the hybrid office is here to stay, and with it comes an opportunity to do a beneficial redesign of the workplace. The soulless twentieth century “cube farms” were dehumanizing, but so were the noisy, crowded open-plan offices that replaced the cubicles. Now designers have a chance to create the perfect balance between too claustrophobic and too unstructured. With some thoughtful innovations, the hybrid office can be the happy medium, like Baby Bear’s oatmeal.

Successful hybrid offices counteract the oversharing open office by providing defined work areas for individual heads-down tasks, and for collaborative team projects. But defined, enclosed areas don’t have to make a space feel crowded. Architectural glass walls and partitions retain an open feel while mitigating the noise interference of open office plans. Additionally, they maintain separation to reduce the potential for infections.

Lockers, too, provide attractive space-defining structures that complement other design choices. Like work spaces, lockers can be reserved for use when teams are in the office, and released for others to use later. Touchless locking mechanisms enhance health protocols, too.

A hybrid redesign is about more than the physical space, of course. Emotional welfare is a significant component of the new workplace. People crave sociability, and working in an office is fundamentally a social activity. When staffers are not in the office, they become anxious about their place in the social order. Providing support for the WFH component of a hybrid office demonstrates management’s trust in employees who aren’t routinely present.

And that support is often in the form of technology. Businesses are providing electronic devices – computers, wifi, cell phones – to employees for their WFH days. Just as important are the digital data resources. Paper-intensive work is now being converted to digital formats. Document conversion, or imaging, gives staff access to information no matter where they are physically located. An additional benefit: With fewer documents to store, storage space can be converted to work spaces, without expanding the office footprint.

The Great Resignation of 2021 has spurred much soul-searching at the C-level. The conclusion of many managers: Make the office a place where people want to spend time, make WFH a valued part of the hybrid workplace, and show support by providing productivity tools. A redesign to achieve these goals is a win for workers and financial stakeholders alike.

Photo © Dariusz Jarzabek / AdobeStock

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

Document Imaging Works For All: WFH, Hybrid, or Fulltime In-Office

It’s no secret that the nature of office work has been permanently changed by the covid pandemic. WFH has been confirmed as a viable alternative to large, expensive in-person offices. Hybrid offices have evolved into a productive balance of part-time WFH and well-scheduled in-office work. And for workers and managers who rely on in-person collaboration, new office designs are making it safe to work together again.

Flexibility is the new standard for the post-covid office. And that flexibility includes a variety of technologies, with employers providing:

  • High speed internet and home office furnishings, for the WFH work model;
  • Collaboration and scheduling software to manage work time and location, for the hybrid workplace;
  • Safety-conscious touchless technology controlling entry, lighting, and climate, for the fulltime in-person office.

Some of these technologies overlap workstyles. For example, both WFH tech and in-person office tech fit well in the hybrid office. But there is one technology that is common to every workplace model: document imaging.

Document imaging supports productivity in any workplace.

  • In the in-person office, imaged documents save valuable space, letting managers convert document storage space into additional room for safely-spaced workstations.
  • In the WFH office, imaged documents can be accessed from anywhere, keeping productivity high even when physical documents aren’t accessible.
  • In the hybrid workplace, imaged documents support collaboration whether in person or remotely.

As employers seek to fill post-pandemic jobs, workers have a new-found leverage to state their preference for WFH, hybrid, or fulltime office work. The Harvard Business Review states that today’s recruiting challenges won’t be solved by the solutions of the past. Adjusting salaries to the cost of living, recruiting overlooked talent like older workers, and setting up satellite offices to reduce commutes all make it easier to recruit and retain top talent.

But for employees and employers to be successful, the workplace technology should be matched to the preferred workplace model. And for all workplace models, document imaging technology is a productive match.

Photo © mavoimages / AdobeStock

To Err is Human, but Document Imaging is Divine

To Err is Human, but Document Imaging is Divine

Errors are an unavoidable part of human endeavor. In some situations, errors have a positive side, helping us learn how to do things better. (Ask any sports coach.) But in operational settings, human error is costly.

Paper documents in particular are error magnets. Even when a document’s information is correct in every detail, a misfiled paper document is just as significant an error as a misspelled name or an incorrect date.

And the costs of misfiled or missing paper documents add up.

  • Each misfiled document costs $120 in additional labor
  • 2-5% of an organization’s documents are misfiled at any given time
  • 10-12% of misfiled documents are not located on the first attempt

The costs don’t stop there. Misfiled documents create liabilities. Misfiled medical records can slow down patient treatments, with potentially adverse outcomes. Regulated industries can fall out of compliance due to misfiled or missing documents.

Document imaging solves the problem of misfiled paper documents. Imaged documents are searchable. Any word within a document can be a search term. Even if an imaged document has been incorrectly filed in an electronic file folder, it can be located by searching on key words.

And unlike a manual search in a filing cabinet, a search for an imaged document happens with electronic speed.

Of course, document imaging has other benefits. Imaged documents save space. They are far more secure than easily-destroyed paper. They are accessible to in-house and remote staffers. They contribute to an organization’s sustainability program.

A well-designed imaging program can give your business all of these advantages, while saving the costs of human error. Talk to an experienced imaging consultant and eliminate document filing errors.

 

Photo © contrastwerkstatt / AdobeStock

The Hybrid Office Trend: How to Manage Business Assets Wherever They Are

The Hybrid Office Trend: How to Manage Business Assets Wherever They Are

Even the federal government is getting in on the hybrid office trend. There are many good reasons to continue the combination of in-office work and remote work: high productivity, happy employees, and lower facilities overhead.

But there’s a security downside. It’s easy to lose track of the whereabouts of assets. Workers move documents, office equipment, even furnishings between home and office. Without a comprehensive check-out check-in system, business assets can fall through the cracks.

And missing assets are costly. Currently, the average office chair is $400. The average laptop computer is $1600. A single missing document is valued at an average of $120, and the cost could be far higher if the data contained in that document cannot be replicated. The cost of lost assets can easily outweigh the cost savings of a hybrid workplace.

This is where RFID can make a difference. You may think of RFID as a tool to manage your product inventory or secure your building’s entrances. In fact, the technology can be extended into other areas of asset management:

  • Office furnishings – Doorway-mounted RFID readers monitor the movements of furniture in and out of a room, or out of the building if you’re supplying furniture for your employees’ home offices.
  • Office equipment – The same doorway readers track RFID-tagged laptops, tablets, and cell phones. Paired with RFID personnel tags, you’ll know which employee has which electronic equipment.
  • Documents – Sensitive documents can be printed on paper with embedded RFID, and file folders can be RFID-tagged. Like furnishings and equipment, the documents are monitored as they are moved around the office, and tracked if they are taken out of the office.

Can you manually track the ins and outs of assets between home and office, the way it’s always been done? Of course. But a paper and pencil sign-out system is astonishingly error-prone.

RFID is accurate. It doesn’t count on people remembering to sign out a file folder or a computer. It doesn’t mistakenly transpose a chair’s asset management ID number. You can rely on the asset data an RFID system delivers.

The hybrid office trend is here to stay. Manage your office assets with RFID and ensure your operation is getting all the benefits of the hybrid workplace.

 

Photo © Prostock-studio / AdobeStock

The Technology that Turned Some Offices into a Pre-Pandemic Museum

The Technology that Turned Some Offices into a Pre-Pandemic Museum

As some non-essential workers begin to return to the workplace after a year of working from home, they are discovering a museum-like scene: offices frozen in time. As reported in this Washington Post story, some offices look a bit like Pompeii after the Vesuvius eruption. Dusty post-it notes and coffee cups sit on desks where they were left a year ago. Break-room refrigerators hold months-old food. Calendars still show March 2020 appointments.

And yet, through the weeks and then the months that piled up into a year or more of office absence, we somehow continued with the work we were doing when we were all sent home. How is it possible that businesses kept functioning productively, remotely, while their offices became dioramas of The Early-2020 Workplace?

Information technology is the answer, of course. When a business has converted from paper-based operations to digital format, work from home (WFH) isn’t just possible, it’s practical. A remotely-accessible database of imaged documents keeps the wheels of business moving.

Employees have discovered the benefits of WFH and they’re unwilling to give them up. The scheduling flexibility of WFH has improved staffers’ work-life balance even as their productivity has increased. Nevertheless, in-person collaboration and culture are sorely missed, and valuable professional relationships are suffering. The hybrid office is predicted to become the dominant workstyle as we move toward a post-pandemic world.

McKinsey researcher Dr. Susan Lund, quoted in Fast Company, states that the return to work will emphasize the kind of social interaction that supports collaborative work. Face-to-face team projects will happen in business offices. Individual tasks or extended heads-down work will be done at home.

With 68% of CEOs planning to downsize office space, design and FM professionals have an opportunity to reshape offices into updated team-supportive offices. IT, too, is part of the design picture; with IT imaging a business’s paper documents to a digital data source, less filing space is needed, making room for more teamwork in less total area.

Tomorrow’s hybrid-office-space design will emphasize togetherness, encouraging what the Harvard Business Review terms “unstructured collaboration:” those water-cooler moments that lead to fruitful connections and breakthroughs. The new offices will probably look rather different than the work spaces we walked away from a year ago. Will anyone preserve a piece of the museum-quality time capsule of the old offices? If you are returning to work in old Pompeii, we’d like to hear from you.

 

Photo © stokkete / AdobeStock