Office Space and Office Space Manager app templates are free in the OutSystems Forge

As social distancing restrictions around the world change, office workspaces are becoming available again - a welcome change for many roles. The important question companies face is how to make “work-from-work” safe and practical. Beyond workplace practices that ensure surfaces and spaces are clean and sanitized, it is important to provide clear, real-time communications and tools for people coming back to the office.

We decided that we needed a powerful, easy-to-use app to simplify the safe and managed return to the workplace. In just a few days, a small team designed, built, tested, and put the app into production on the OutSystems platform. We call it “Office Space,” (hey, we can still have a sense of humor) and we are excited that the components to launch your own Office Space solution - along with many other important COVID-19 tools - are available to our community, free of charge in the Forge.

How do you develop and launch custom software in a few days? It’s a bit of a crazy idea with traditional tools, so let me share the story.

The New Work Environment

When faced with demands posed by COVID-19, like every company in the world, OutSystems had to adapt. While we found remote working incredibly productive, some of our people and teams wanted to leverage the office workspace once it was safe to return. Our first test as a global company came very quickly in Lisbon. Portugal carefully managed its response to COVID-19 and is entering a new phase where offices can begin to re-open.

The rules for re-opening will differ globally, but they all need to meet the same basic set of standards:

  • A proactive way to check the health of individual employees.
  • An ability to reduce utilization of space under social distancing guidelines. (In Lisbon, we’re starting at 30%.) This same utilization can be applied to common spaces or other shared parts of a workplace.
  • A check-in and check-out so both the employee and the employer are able to manage not just the space, but the related cleaning services and other support systems.
  • A contact-tracing record ensuring a strong data trail so teams can manage exposure should it happen.

How It Works

Like other companies, we still have 100% of the office space we had before the pandemic hit, but we will operate a lower capacity based on our strategic plans and on local health authority guidance. Across our global locations, we wanted to provide a common experience for every employee.

There are two parts to the app:

  1. A mobile app provides everything employees need to book office space.
    It starts with a three-point questionnaire that determines eligibility to book a desk, including built-in COVID-19 rules for social distancing and mask requirements and reminders to work at home should employees not meet eligibility or aren’t feeling well.

    Employees can then choose an office location, specific date, floor, and the number of hours they'd like to work. The app automatically assigns a desk and displays an interactive map that navigates the user to the assigned desk. QR codes at the desk allow easy check-in scans. Employees checkout when ready, or the app notifies them when checkout time is near so they can vacate the space and the cleaning crew can sanitize.
  2. A back-office facilities management solution allows our facility managers to quickly provision offices as they open and set up local office maps, capacity requirements, rules, and timelines. Behind the scenes, facilities managers in Portugal arranged the desks in groups of four, but only one can be used per the local social distancing mandate. When a mobile app user receives a desk assignment, the other three desks in the cluster become unavailable for booking.

Where to Get the App and See the Demo

You find Office Space, Office Space Manager, and other Business Continuity apps in the Forge. As other applications become available we will keep you updated. It's customizable so you can create your own back-to-work app even faster than our own developers did.

As always, we'd love to get your feedback, so please download the app template and tell us what you think. We'd also be interested to hear about how you've customized it.