You can read about Antonia, a fictional character, in the third article, titled ‘A Story of Reimagining the Workplace – Part 1′‘  in the Trimble Real Estate series of articles on the phases of the role of workplaces in the new environment of the CV-19 era.

Maybe Antonia should meet Kat and Chet, the Wall Street Journal’s actors in their return to the office stories. The fictional Antonia tale is from a real estate and facility management perspective with some new views on the purpose of an urban office today and the increased necessity of implementing new technologies. The new Col-LABS described in the article are repurposed conference places where some employees can come together to hopefully do their most productive, creative, collaborative work on a scheduled basis in a healthy building. As the architect Clive Wilkinson has described the workplace as theatre:

“For many, large innovative organizations today, the workplace has become a kind of theatre. The action of work becomes a play. Where human activity is freed from excessive management and control, work can become serious play and the associated activity becomes a state of flow. This state of consciousness called flow is an optimum desirable condition to be strived for in creative communities inspiring and connecting people and processes in an efficiency of movement and productivity.”

One can never question Clive’s understanding of ‘flow’ if you ever saw his design of a conference table as a beautifully curving surfboard for an imaginative workplace which becomes a theatre located just a short walk from the Pacific Ocean in Venice, CA years ago.

Then there are two recent stories from the Wall Street Journal which involve two other fictional employees, Kat and Chet, who are being monitored by the ‘big brother’ like management of their company. Information on their health, time spent in social distancing, as well as where one goes, what he does and whom he meets is being collected on these individuals. Remote working during the time of this virus, has inspired a myriad of news articles lately. One NYT journalist, wrote in early May of this year the reasons why this type of software is gaining popularity:

“With millions of us working from home in the coronavirus pandemic, companies are hunting for ways to ensure that we are doing what we are supposed to. Demand has surged for software that can monitor employees, with programs tracking the words we type, snapping pictures with our computer cameras and giving our managers rankings of who is spending too much time on Facebook and not enough time on Excel.”

The article goes on to describe how Adam, the reporter, downloaded Hubstaff to his computer to monitor his own work and movements over a 3 week period. By the end of his trial period, he found himself trying to cheat the software so it wouldn’t know that he was getting coffee and spending time with his kids. One is led to think that this type of monitoring does not exactly inspire either trust or ‘flow’ of creativity and innovation. Perhaps we need a new play where Antonia teaches Kat and Chet’s management some fresh ideas about privacy concerns, work and the evolving theatre of the workplace. More on this in the final article of this Real Estate ‘Return-To-Office’ series.

If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble ManhattanONE team for a demo or more information.

With Covid-19 forcing companies around the world to rethink how their offices will function when employees start to return to work, our friends over at Trimble SketchUp have highlighted six modelling and design steps that organizations can take to plot their journey back to a Covid-safe workplace. Here’s a summary…

Step 1: Create a 3D model of your workplace to help you understand its capacity

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace 3d model

All you need to get started is a CAD plan or just an image of your workspace, say the SketchUp team. And they should know. SketchUp is the fastest and easiest-to-use tool for creating a 3D model and collaborating on it remotely with your team. SketchUp even provides an online guide to boosting CAD to 3D workflow, as well as ‘Skill Builder’ videos showing architectural modelling tips.

Step 2: Populate your model with accurate 3D assets

Once the digital model of your office is ready, you can make it look more accurate and representative of the actual space by adding furniture, equipment and other assets. You can avoid having to model items from scratch by using SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, a digital library which contains over 4.5 million pre-built assets to suit any type of office setting.

Step 3: Optimize your space for the new social distancing norm

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace optimize

Customize your 3D model by using SketchUp Extensions to add functionalities that suit your specific modeling needs—including optimizing your workspace for safe distancing. You can also take advantage of cool ideas on how to rearrange furniture to fit the latest social distancing guidance.

Step 4: Get consensus for the new layout

After months of working remotely, your team might find it hard to adapt to the new office environment. You can help everyone become familiar with the new layout by uploading and sharing your 3D model with them via Trimble Connect. This will give your team an opportunity to comment on the model and voice any concerns. 

Step 5: Turn your updated 3D model into floor plans

Once your team gives you the green light, it takes only seconds to turn your 3D model into a 2D floorplan using LayOut, a tool that can generate drawings to scale and add annotations, dimensions or tags. The 2D document stays dynamically connected to the 3D model so any 3D changes are automatically reflected in your 2D drawings. Your LayOut document can then be shared as a PDF, DWG or an on-screen presentation.

Step 6: Design and deploy your operational plan

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace real estate

Space layout is just one of many things that need to change to keep your team safe. Splitting your workforce into groups and managing logistics and services are equally important operational considerations. 

As you may know, the real estate group at Trimble has the technology to help organizations optimize workspace utilization and the management of people in the post-Covid workplace. We can help with:

  • Capacity and distancing planning: Auto-apply your physical distancing protocols to existing floor plan layouts and calculate the maximum capacity
  • Staff rotation to de-densify space: Efficiently split your teams into groups and formalize a rotating schedule.
  • Deploy, track, audit: Track the effectiveness and safety of the ‘new normal’.
  • Dynamically schedule space: Use our space scheduling software to empower employees to decide where they can sit safely.

You can read the full article—titled “Design Your Way Back to the Office”—on the SketchUp blog.

If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble real estate team at for a demo or more information. 

For years, space management software has been helping organizations streamline processes and maximize workspace utilization. But in the Covid-threatened workplace, the same technology is now being used to return employees to the workplace and safeguard their well-being.

Before the pandemic, companies were focused on driving towards greater workplace efficiency and higher space utilization—with feature-rich solutions providing innovative ways to gain tighter control over the sharing and usage of meeting rooms and flexible workspaces. 

But in the ‘new’ workplace, space planners and managers are having to rethink their approach in order to comply with safe distancing guidelines. The focus is now on limiting utilization and occupancy in order to maximize physical distancing and protect employees.

Here are three ways (of six) that space management software can help you meet the challenge of reconfiguring the utilization and management of your workspaces in a post-pandemic environment …  

Capacity planning: Scenario planning and modelling for alternative occupancy strategies

Six ways technology can help space planners floorplan

Space management software makes it easier for you to gain a clear understanding of your optimum workspace capacity in the new safety-first workplace. You can leverage planning features that enable you to model different scenarios—from setting safe physical distancing limits between desks to splitting common functions between different floors and/or buildings to reduce risk.

Our software supports algorithms that can auto-apply your physical distancing protocols to existing floor plan layouts and calculate the maximum capacity. This enables you to visualize the potential capacity on each floor and in each building by comparing scenarios for different distancing options, occupancy ratios, co-working ratios and cleaning protocols. It will also show how any increase in occupancy levels and seating density will impact on the usage of common areas and the flow of people within a building. And when the time comes to phase in more employees, you can then regenerate distance measurement scenarios that increase in density.

Managing occupancy migration: Restricting access to maintain safe distancing

To ensure safe deployment of staff as they return to the workplace, space management software can help you to initiate an occupancy migration plan through real-time floor plan management and space allocations based on distancing guidelines. 

When you specify the number of people you need to apply to a particular space on your floor plan, algorithms automatically allocate reservable desks while maintaining a safe distance between them. If the guidance on social distancing changes, built-in flexibility means the allocation of spaces can be quickly revised—and new floor plans will be auto-generated.

Adopting a rota system allows you to reduce density while still giving all members of staff an equal opportunity to come into the office and collaborate. Space management software enables you to create teams, allocate employees to those teams, and then give each team access to desks on particular days. Many of our clients are creating lists of teams that identify when they can come into the office. We can take these lists and verify whether they conform to the safe distancing policy or enforce rules that only let them book a desk when they are allowed to be in the office.

The risk of Covid-19 transmission is highest in non-assigned common areas which may have a greater density of people—such as lobbies, elevators, washrooms, kitchens and break rooms. Tracking capability and powerful analytical tools can monitor adherence to your safe distancing policy in these ‘hot spots’. For example, some clients are assigning floors different arrival times to reduce the congestion on the elevators at the start of the day. With our software you can automatically capture data through integration with sensors or other indoor location technology. If your workplace doesn’t have sensors, you can gather valuable data from other sources, such as badge swipes and IP addresses.

Booking desks and rooms: Configurable operational rules

Integrating booking capability with your space management software can enable you to automatically monitor and control access to all desks, rooms and facilities—along with centrally-managed workflows and highly configurable operational rules. 

Our space scheduling tool lets you set the occupancy level and physical distancing policy. The software’s colour-coded digital floor plans show at a glance which desks or rooms can (or can’t) be used. They also indicate spaces that are offline and waiting to be disinfected.

You can further help employees by letting them decide where they can sit. Room booking information can be swiftly communicated to teams via mobile apps or web mail, along with two-way integration with Office 365 and Outlook calendars.

Six ways technology can help space planners mobile phone

Empowering your users with mobile booking capabilities gives them access to the updated floor plan, while search functions enable them to quickly find an approved, available space. When a booking is made, our software can automatically factor in cleaning and sanitization time—and users are notified as soon as the room or desk has been disinfected.

Taking it a step further, integration with wall mounted touch panels can show employees which rooms and desks are vacant and disinfected, or unavailable for cleaning. You can even use software to help plan signage placement within your building to keep staff and visitors fully informed—including information about any one-way flow routes designed to minimize transmission.

These are just a few ways space planning and scheduling technology can make your phased return to work easier. If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble Manhattan team at for a demo or more information.

In part 2, we will look at how space management technology can assist with cleaning schedules, control visitors and provide real-time analysis for data-driven decision making.