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Enabling the hybrid workplace with ArcGIS Indoors

There can be no denying that the workplace has changed dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us, working from home is very much the new normal and that seems unlikely to change any time soon. So how can we make the transition to this new working situation as seamless as possible?

As nice as it is to not need to make lunch the night before, sit in traffic and buy coffee every day, there is a common thread among colleagues and friends I talk to: they love the work-life balance working from home offers but miss collaborating with colleagues in person. I feel the exact same way–if I need to put my head down and get some work done (writing a blog for example) it’s much easier for me to do that at home. However, for a strategy meeting or team building activity, it’s hugely beneficial to have that face-to-face interaction (thus avoiding the now classic: “You’re on mute, Bill”).

This sentiment is clearly not limited to my circle. A 2021 survey from Ernst & Young Global found that nine out of ten employees want flexibility on where and when they work, and want to work on average two or three days remotely. Incredibly, more than half of the employees surveyed (54%) would consider leaving their job if not offered flexible working options. Evidently flexible working has risen near the top of employees’ priorities, and with job vacancies at record highs, organizations will need to consider this to attract and retain top talent. Conversely, with staff spending less time in the office we should not be surprised if employers look to downsize their office footprint, perhaps creating a situation where not every staff member will have their own permanently assigned workspace. Welcome to the Hybrid Workplace!

So how can we make the transition to this new working pattern as seamless as possible for all involved? Fortunately, we now have space planning tools to aid us through this new normal of hybrid work. Let’s have a look at how ArcGIS Indoors can enable organizations to provide a modern, flexible work arrangement for their teams.

Below is the Space Planner web application, available in your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise organization with the ArcGIS Indoors Spaces extension:

Space Planner web application

On the left-hand side of the application, we have our unassigned people and units. These are employees and workspaces that do not yet have an assignment in our space plan:

List of unassigned people, before space is assigned to a person

To assign an employee a permanent workspace, I can use the search or filter functions to find who I’m looking for, and simply drag and drop onto the map. You’ll see the map label update to now display the name of the employee rather than the room name:

After space is assigned to a person

A permanent workspace makes sense for the regional manager or someone who decides to be full-time in the office, but how can we accommodate those employees who want to only work in the office a couple days a week? To borrow a plot point from a popular sitcom, perhaps we’ve merged with another branch and now have fewer workspaces than people. For this, ArcGIS Indoors allows us to designate hot desks and office hotels. The two are very similar except that office hotels can be reserved using the ArcGIS Indoors web and mobile apps, and hot desks cannot (you can think of hot desks being a first-come-first-served situation). Creating an office hotel is as simple as providing a name, selecting the workspaces that will be included, and optionally assigning people to the hotel (if you want to restrict booking to only certain employees):

Booking office hotel

Now when employees are planning to be in the office, they can reserve their own workspace using the ArcGIS Indoors mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices). After reserving a workspace, an event is added to their calendar and the map symbology is updated so other users can quickly see the space is not currently available:

Before and after an office is booked

As you can see, space planning with ArcGIS Indoors allows organizations to modernize their workplaces and provide employees with flexible working options. Hopefully that gives you an idea of how ArcGIS Indoors can support your hybrid workplace initiatives in this changing world. For more information, please find me on LinkedIn or get in touch at Thanks for reading!

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here

About the Author

Alistair McDougall is a product specialist at Esri Canada, focusing on Indoor GIS. After many years of mapping just about everything except the inside of buildings, he is excited to help organizations get started with indoor maps. Alistair holds a bachelor’s degree from St. Francis Xavier University and a diploma from the NSCC Centre of Geographic Sciences. Though his work may focus on indoor spaces, in his free time he much prefers to be out and about exploring Nova Scotia with his dog Moose – weather permitting!

Profile Photo of Alistair McDouggall