Teams with access to Bluebeam Revu can efficiently plan, create and communicate workspace reconfigurations – without having to turn to costly outside resources.
As organisations begin to bring employees back into the office after months of remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, facilities managers are emerging as critical players in the transition.
While employees have been busy adapting to working remotely, facilities leaders have been spending much of the last six months preparing for employees’ inevitable return to the office – whenever that may be.
For many, that day won’t come until later in 2021. Others are considering embracing remote work indefinitely. Twitter is giving employees the green light to consider the option, which will allow many of its employees to permanently escape the high cost of living around the company’s home city of San Francisco.
Organisations are anxious to get employees safely back into the workplace, and determining what that will look like is a complex process, according to Candice Stong, a project manager on Bluebeam’s facilities team. This team manages the construction technology company’s global office portfolio, including its Pasadena, California, headquarters as well as offices across the United States, Europe, the U.K. and Australia.
“To say it’s been crazy over the past six months is an understatement”, Stong said. “We all work from home now, but, eventually, we’re going to be back in the office. So, we have focused on what that will look like according to the requirements set forth in the various safety protocols.”
All workspaces are not created equal, and for most organisations, updating the workplace to meet the various public health protocols is necessary. In recent years, many companies embraced open, flexible, activity-based spaces, along with densely populated workstations with assigned seating. Others adopted a flex-work model using hot-desking.
These strategies, which allowed for increased density, have created a challenge given physical distancing requirements in a post-COVID environment. For Bluebeam, clusters of workstations situated closely together wouldn’t suffice to maintain the 1.8-metre physical distance between employees necessary to meet public health protocols. Narrow hallways would have to be re-routed into one-way paths.
Rules around conference room occupancy and use would need to be instituted. In-office kitchen areas would need to be reimagined, along with the common areas and other informal gathering spaces.
Additionally, floor markers, as visual cues, ensuring physical distance requirements are met, as well as zones for temperature checks, are markings that were included on the return-to-office plan documents.
Enabling quick-and-nimble planning
As the early weeks of all-company remote work settled in, Stong began receiving inquiries from vendors offering to assist Bluebeam with workspace reconfigurations and occupancy management solutions considering the likely post-COVID requirements to come. “With access to Revu, utilising outside resources to manage the return-to-office workspace planning didn’t seem to make sense,” Stong said she remembered thinking at the time.
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic and how our workspace would need to adapt to continuous changes in health protocols and government agency requirements, Stong said she needed to be more self-sufficient with creating relevant workspace plans and be swiftly responsive to changes.
“Being solely reliant on third-party vendors to map out the future of our workspace would take time and money,” she said.
The larger situation surrounding COVID-19 was seemingly changing each day, which meant occupancy management and workspace reconfigurations required for a safe return would need a quick-and-nimble approach. An approved plan one week might become obsolete the next.
Even for facilities managers that choose to work with an outside resource, it would be smart for them to collaborate in the reconfiguration effort as much as possible. This way, if and when last-minute changes do come to light, the facilities manager can work with the plan documents themselves to institute the change – all without having to wait for the contractor or architect to respond under potentially tight approval deadlines with regulators.
“I think the challenge is facility teams now need to know their buildings better than ever,” said Ryan McGuinness, Bluebeam’s North American enterprise sales director, who interacts often with facilities managers at construction and architecture firms. ‘They’re trying to do whatever they can with the tools they have, but then they also need to communicate that information to the masses.’
What’s more, facilities managers’ ownership of the return-to-office plan and redesign allows them to take advantage of learning how to use some of the tools their architectural counterparts use to plan and plot out changes. Of course, becoming an expert in the tools architects use for design – like Revit or AutoCAD – is likely unrealistic. Luckily, there is another industry-standard tool that is easy to adopt, putting the power in facilities managers’ hands.
Enter Bluebeam Revu
Bluebeam Revu’s PDF markup and editing capabilities make it a manageable but powerful tool for facilities managers to learn when it comes to creating, managing and communicating return-to-office workspace plans.
Aside from detailed and industry-specific reconfigurations and markups that will need to take place in workspace plan documents, it’s likely that many non-technical company stakeholders will eventually need to view and sign off on any final plans. This makes Studio in Revu, Bluebeam’s cloud-based document management and real-time collaboration portal, a valuable tool for accessible document communication and approvals.
“I see a lot of our customers being able to use Revu’s advanced markups to give a visual story of what’s going on with their current layout and with what needs to be changed,” McGuinness said. “And then also being able to communicate that through Studio to anyone involved. Studio is going to give you an audit trail of all those markups.”