Save My Seat: A Return-to-Work App Focused on Employee Safety

Thursday, November 19th, 2020

By Andrea Shook, Faithful+Gould

As part of IFMA’s ongoing safety campaign, we want to share an example of an innovative digital solution our corporate real estate and facility management team delivered to help our employees return to work safely.

Based on this need, Faithful+Gould developed an app and interactive dashboard called Save My Seat that allows employees to reserve days they plan to come into the office. Much like an airline, employees choose a seat that gives them the preferred distance from other staff in the office which, in turn, provides data to facilities managers as they monitor occupancy against jurisdictional limitations and see how their offices are being utilized.

Employees can plan trips to the office with the confidence of knowing how many people will be in the office and how close they will be. If they wish, they can even swap seats at the last minute to find a more comfortable work setting within the office.

The six-foot bubble floorplans in our app highlight proper spacing so staff can see appropriately distanced available desks, newly implemented one directional walkways, hand sanitizer stations, and rooms that are now off-limits or have restricted capacities. In fact, we went so far as to tie our Outlook reservation system to our app which can also ask how many people will be attending the meeting in person to assure we adhere to occupancy restrictions.

By adding check in and check out features within the app, physical sign-in sheets are eliminated so employees don’t have to touch the same writing utensil and office managers don’t have to fill in cumbersome spreadsheets. We also incorporated health questionnaires into the app to screen for potential COVID symptoms before checking in.

With the ability to track which employees were in the office at the same time and in what areas, we have improved contact tracing without the use of invasive tracking devices.

Additionally, we designed customized emails by office location that are automatically sent upon reservation confirmation, check in, and check out to alert employees of new COVID-related safety protocols we want to emphasize. This can include reminders to do temperature checks before leaving the house, elevator procedures, guest restrictions in the office, and sanitizing your workstation before leaving at the end of the day.

Faced with the challenges of working from home and coordinating childcare in many cases, the app provides more flexibility to achieve a healthy work-life balance than an A/B rotational schedule.

We also considered the fact that many staff will choose to avoid public transportation for their commute into the office. In locations with limited parking, our app enables employees to reserve a space and be notified if parking is at full capacity on a given day so they can make other arrangements.

Deploying a tool that allows employees to align their office visits with their leadership and teammates and even choose the day and desk, enables social distancing, career control and benefits their wellbeing. It also provides real estate managers real-time insight into what is most important to the office of the future.

The app has great safety benefits for our staff, but it also provides some excellent benefits to facility managers and corporate real estate managers:

  • Automated safety reminders aligned with timing of office visits help reinforce new safety habits.
  • Save My Seat makes users part of the safety/workplace journey unlike having only third-party audits or occupancy sensors.
  • Our interactive dashboards provide a simple interface to:
    • Track capacity against jurisdictional restrictions
    • Track check ins and check outs
    • Approve reservations
    • Contact trace and see who was in close proximity to each other over any range of dates
    • Utilize data and heat maps for future planning
    • Capture the purpose of the office visit to better understand what is driving employees back to the office
    • Easily integrate captured data with capital planning tools like our Cost Intelligence budgeting platform
    • Filter by department to see how various business units are occupying the space
    • Summarize measured statistics across an office or portfolio of offices

Employee health and safety is paramount to bringing people back to the office.  Our Save My Seat app improves employee resiliency during the pandemic and enables us to create  sustainable workplaces afterwards.

Here are some screen shots of our Save My Seat app currently being deployed throughout the US, UK and Canada.

About the Author

With over 20 years of experience in the strategic management of commercial and residential real estate portfolios, Andrea focuses on using real estate to enable operational success. Aligning business leaders and corporate objectives with real estate, Andrea consults with organizations to control spending, improve employee morale, and optimize their portfolio. Andrea has helped transition more than 10,000 employees to technology-enabled, agile or open work environments, encapsulating the real estate lifecycle.

Andrea has worked on high-profile HQ projects for Fortune 500 clients across many industries including pharmaceuticals, agricultural, media and financial services. As a thought leader, she has authored several articles in trade publications and presented to various industry groups including CoreNet, ULI, WorkTech NYC and Women in Engineering.

Note from IFMA. We love posting the ideas and thoughts of our members. However, the ideas and thoughts expressed in this article are the author’s own and not necessarily endorsed by IFMA ITC.