A Data Driven Approach to Re-Boarding

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020

This article is derived from the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) COVID-19 Series #14 webinar, “FM + COVID-19 Series #14: COVID-19‘s impact on Workforce, Workplace and FM.”


As companies start to plan and implement re-boarding strategies, the one constant is the power that accessible data can provide in ensuring the appropriate decisions are made. The data considered in this article is based on three elements:

1. Workforce Data – information related to where facilities or employees are located
2. Workplace Data – information about the operational aspects of facilities, such as capacity and allocation of space
3. Facility Management data – information dictating how to maintain the space appropriately

While having technology solutions such as computer-aided facility management (CAFM) or integrated workplace management system (IWMS) software, data visualization tools and sensor data can expedite and ease the solutioning process, all of the tactical elements discussed here can be implemented manually.

Workforce Data

For workforce, the main considerations for a company are:

  • 1. Where are all the facilities located?
  • 2. Where are employees located?
  • 3. Where are critical teams and/or business units located?

Reviewing this data alongside daily updates of COVID-19 data helps to identify the hot spots to be avoided and the areas that can be considered for re-opening. The pandemic data changes daily, so this is an ever-moving target. Automation of data aggregation simplifies the process and allows greater focus and highlighting of key decision points.

From an employee perspective, it is key to understand the work from home experience and which employees have a critical need to be in a physical location. This data is best viewed at a team level to remove any seniority or other individual centric bias.

Workplace Data

The key data to understand in the workplace is:

  • 1. Population thresholds
  • 2. Protocol-based distribution
  • 3. Criticality of individuals

The goal here is determining how many seats can be safely occupied based on the location-specific protocols as advised by local authorities. Social distance rules, circulation flows and room utilization parameters can be plotted manually or systematically onto space plans to confirm and communicate the right plan based on the local restrictions related to phasing.

Facility Management Data

The profession of facility management will pivot from being behind the scenes to being front and center as people re-board in their workplaces to provide the employees with the confidence that facilities are safe to occupy.

Three areas of immediate consideration are:

  • 1. Conference room assignment and usage protocols
  • 2. Hot-desking strategy and utilization metrics
  • 3. Elevator access rules

For both conference rooms and hot desks, there will be a bigger focus on utilization than in the past; this will include ensuring rooms and desks are being used to the correct thresholds, cleaned at the appropriate intervals and that named users of the space are recorded for contact tracing needs (subject to data privacy regulations).

Even in environments that are a one-to-one assignment of people to space, business will need to know when the occupants are in the office in case of any contamination issues. Space utilization data will be an important consideration in contact tracing. Elevator access will determine permitted entry and egress levels and potential staggering of arrivals and departures.

The ever-changing dynamics and global implications of COVID-19 are impacting all organizations. Companies need to have access to critical data to make key strategic decisions, that impact their employees and FM’s. Re-boarding will have implications for change management, HR and Health and Safety that will also need to be considered – data is merely the enabler.

For more insights and guidance, please refer to https://www.ifma.org/know-base/coronavirus-preparedness-resource-center