3 Workplace Management Features You Need When Managing Remote Employees

By: on November 13, 2019

Today, more than 4.3 million U.S. employees work from home at least half the time, which means organizations have the potential to support up to 40% more workers with the same workspace (full content available to Gartner clients).

This means facility managers must find new ways to support a remote workforce. Integrated workplace management systems (IWMSs) are designed primarily to manage facility costs, but vendors now offer more ways to energize and boost the productivity of workers, even those outside the office.

I spoke with Missy Bolino, VP of Product Strategy at iOffice (and remote worker herself), about three IWMS features that ensure remote workers have what they need to be productive.

3 tools to effectively manage remote employees

An IWMS, as defined by Gartner, includes five specific applications that support both real estate and facilities professionals. These include:

Real estate and lease management
Stores details about facilities and manages the lifecycle of the building
Facilities and space management
Helps keep track of physical spaces with maintenance, space optimization, and moves
Maintenance management
Tracks and dispatches maintenance tasks for assets within an organization
Environmental sustainability and energy management
Monitors energy use and identifies wasteful consumption in equipment or areas of the facility
Capital project management
Used to manage long-term capital projects with budgets, inventory, contracts, and other documents

The scope of an IWMS has expanded to help create a more flexible, mobile workspace, and while Bolino says most facilities professionals are focused on onsite employees, the following features are especially valuable for remote team members.

“The features provided—such as resource scheduling and room booking—are available for remote workers when they come onsite so that they have a plan in place for how to work,” Bolino says.

Let’s walk through the journey of a remote worker as they come to the office for a team meeting using the IWMS features that support them in each step:

1. Reservations

The first priority when coming into a mobile-focused office is to find a place to work. Most modern IWMS products include access to a mobile app so remote workers can claim desk space or book a room ahead of a meeting. These apps also allow workers to schedule catering, get A/V assistance, grant wifi to guests, and more.

Reservation functionality in an app allows remote workers to prepare and check in for meetings without needing to come onsite by booking all the necessary resources.

“When you’re scheduling a meeting and you have multiple locations—meaning, you are remote, but you have 15 people at various locations—it’s great to be able to book rooms at each location,” Bolino says.

Reserving rooms and additional services through the iOffice Hummingbird mobile app (Source)

2. Wayfinding

Our remote worker is onsite, and they’ve booked rooms for their meeting. As someone unfamiliar with the dozens of rooms in an office, it’s easy to waste valuable time finding out where to go.

“I’m a remote worker myself, and I will say, when you do go into the office, it’s nice to have tools that can get you set up in advance, versus having to pester people for more information,” Bolino says.

Again, wayfinding isn’t specifically designed for remote workers, but it’s a feature they greatly benefit from. As they enter the office, the mobile app can show the same information displayed on digital signage at the meeting room and guide them to the right spot with maps.

Wayfinding helps direct remote workers with maps and search functionality (Source)

3. Service requests

Of course, things aren’t always perfect when you arrive to your reserved spot. Our remote worker uses wayfinding on their app to find the meeting room, but when they get there it’s a frigid 65 degrees and missing notepads.

Since maintenance plays a big role in facility management, an IWMS often includes access to a service request functionality so employees can ask to change temperatures, request equipment or materials, or report repair needs for specific rooms or assets on the mobile app or desktop.

For the most convenient experience, look for a vendor that offers a native mobile app. iOffice’s Hummingbird app, for example, is native for iOS and Android, meaning users can leverage the device’s hardware to snap photos, barcodes or utilize GPS.

Facility professionals can view and sort worker-submitted work orders to prioritize tasks in iOffice (Source)

Tackle the challenges of managing remote employees with an IWMS

Managing remote workers presents challenges for both employee and manager: Communication across different time zones, clear expectations for productivity, and motivation can all suffer without real-time, face-to-face interaction.

But, Gartner’s most recent Digital Workplace Survey found that only 11% of workers were “completely satisfied” with the physical space of their employer—this dissatisfaction can have detrimental effects on employee motivation (full content available to Gartner clients). So both the physical and digital aspects of a workplace must evolve.

worker satisfaction with workspace chart

In fact, Gartner estimates that, by 2020, organizations that support a choose-your-own-work-style culture will boost employee retention rates by more than 10%. Reservations, wayfinding, and service requests will boost workplace flexibility and productivity for your remote teams.

To find the right system for managing remote employees:

  • Fill out this form or call our advisors at (855) 998-8505 for a free consultation to narrow down the list of products that fit your specific business needs.

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