This article was written by Garret Flower, CEO and Founder of ParkOffice.

When looking to unlock savings, companies are often very linear in how they think. They seek to reduce direct spend on things like staffing, marketing, etc. It has been this way for generations, but I believe this type of thinking tends to overlook the myriad methods which companies can explore to identify and eliminate certain “invisible overheads.” It’s time for companies to embrace the butterfly effect and identify the seemingly trivial things in their business that can unlock substantial savings.

Managing the return to the office has the potential to be very expensive for a lot of companies. Luckily, the pandemic has seen an explosion in the digitization of many workforces. This opens up a world of opportunity when it comes to reducing the cost of getting back to work.

So where should businesses be looking to embrace to make sure they are spending smart while they work smart?

Avoid overspending on maintenance & cleaning

With the return of the office, it seems to make sense to double down on cleaning and maintenance functions. Hygiene is massively important in combating COVID-19, but in my opinion, aimlessly increasing spend here could be a cost you simply do not need.

Think about it: with hybrid working large portions of your office are going to lie empty for large portions of the week. Investing in good maintenance management software could save a lot of money. It would allow you to move from ongoing blanket coverage to on-demand coverage. Gone are the days of maintenance staff patrolling the office looking for work that needs to be done. With technology, everything can be reported and responded to in a timely and efficient manner.

Get to grips with the employee car park

Even pre-pandemic, poor employee parking management costs companies a lot of money, and it took its toll on staff too. Research shows that up to 23% of employees will leave a job sometime during their career owing to an arduous commute.

As employees return to offices the focus on parking is going to multiply. On one hand, a hesitancy to use public transport will drive up demand. On the other hand, demand will be much more unpredictable due to hybrid working.

A good employee parking management software will make sure parking chaos never rears its ugly head again. By monitoring demand, providing real-time availability and automating parking allocation companies can eliminate all their parking problems at the click of a button.

In the long-term, the data and insights help companies identify how much parking space they need, unlocking larger direct savings on real estate reductions. Other benefits include increased productivity and time management for staff, and potential even stress reduction.

Be wary of real estate duplication

As the world of work opens back up, employers are going to see an increased demand for off-site coworking. Research by the Enterprisers Project reveals that 83% of Americans believe a hybrid work model is preferable for them post-pandemic. It’s clear to me that while many employees don’t want to return to work five times a week, they do want to escape the box bedroom.

Suburban co-working offices stand to benefit as corporates fund their staff to work closer to home in more formalized shared environments. This all sounds great, except most companies are already spending handsomely on real estate space for their staff at the office.

Tracking and balancing this flexible work spend is going to get more difficult over time. How does a company keep track of how often an employee is using their off-site hotdesk? How do they know when an employee has decided to return to the office full-time?

Taking on a robust real estate spend management solution is a big step here for companies to work out their sweet spot and keep real estate waste to a minimum.

Don’t leave the lights on if nobody is home

Over the last decade, there has been a noticeable increase in smart light and heat systems in workplaces. However, again in the context of the post-pandemic landscape, I believe now is the imperative time to make sure that your company is covered.

With whole floors potentially lying idle on certain days of the week as companies find their hybrid working balance, companies can ill-afford to light and heat the whole building when there is limited need.

The advance in IoT hardware and complementary SaaS solutions makes these systems very accessible to companies of all sizes, and return on investment is very measurable.

Beware of the catch-all software

One slight word of warning I would offer companies as they return is to be careful when purchasing software solutions. The pandemic has seen a lot of companies pivot, meaning the market is now afloat with SaaS products that are still trying to figure out what they do. Put another way, they do not do what it says on the tin.

My advice is to avoid the one-stop-shop solutions that promise to do everything under the sun. Quite often these softwares are expensive mistakes. Once you buy the solution you realize that they don’t have the features or product experience you need to solve the problem at hand.

You then have to go on a whole new product journey to buy specialist products which do make the problems go away. Save yourself time and money and buy the best products to solve your problems from day one.

Garret Flower is CEO & Co-Founder of ParkOffice.io, employee parking management software that enables companies to optimize employee parking.

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