Here are three considerations for redesigning your office space as it goes through yet another inevitable overhaul due to the COVID19 pandemic.
The role of the office has been evolving since the Romans first pioneered the idea of spaces specifically for official work. Between then and now, workplace strategies have morphed continuously to keep up with changing needs. Medieval monks pioneered the cubicle to stay focused on the task at hand, the 1950s ushered the concept of open spaces as more flexible and the pandemic made working from home a necessity in the past year.
So, what lies ahead for the future of the workplace now and how can you prepare for it?
Why businesses will adopt hybrid working
Amidst the office space evolution came the concept of activity based working (ABW) in the 1980s. The idea was simple; design the workplace based on the activities of employees and allow employees to choose the environment best suited for their tasks, whether that was in a conference room brainstorming ideas with other colleagues, secluded in a closed off area, or at home comfortable in their personal space.
ABW also revealed gems in real estate strategy like the under utilisation of office spaces. A study conducted by Veldhoen + Company showed that spaces within the office have a 50% redundancy rate.
COVID19 and the multitude of health regulations that came subsequently, have resulted in a hybrid working environment that has brought ABW in the limelight.
In an attempt to curb the spread of the virus and ensure safety, a vast majority of employees found themselves working from home. With the return to work imminent, employers are now looking to explore a new workplace strategy, one that inevitably will include a hybrid work environment.
So, what information do we use to our benefit in crafting a workplace strategy post pandemic?
3 Points to consider upon return to work
1. Anticipating employee needs
A big part of any successful working environment is the workforce behind it. A study conducted by Leesman Index showed that an overwhelming majority of employees believe they are productive and feel a better sense of home work life balance by working from home.
One takeaway, from the past year, is that organisations that accommodate and prepare for this, have a hiring advantage. They attract talent easily and retain them longer. When re-evaluating your workplace strategy, it is fundamental to provide a balance of office and remote working to give employees the choice to choose how and where they work.
2. Building resilience
Companies which adapt to workplace changes build resilience over time. A hybrid working environment, as proven when the world went into lockdown, requires familiarity with the tech world.
The systems and software that enable remote working have been present for decades but companies must move from merely tolerating its existence to embracing it.
Training employees on necessary news skills is the way to ensure that companies can keep up with the inevitable digital world.
More importantly, integrating a booking engine will help facilitate space capacity and work rotations for Facilities and HR teams as well as ensure a smooth transition for employees to return to the office.
3. Integrating data
COVID19 related health regulations have also forced companies to revisit their real estate strategies. More and more employers are looking for space occupancy data that can guide them to make decisions on how they can properly utilise office space in a hybrid work environment.
This dovetails with sustainable usage of time and resources as space occupancy data achieves intentionality.
Businesses need to adopt an occupancy analytics engine to gather data on how space is currently utilised in a post pandemic workplace. Gathering utilisation data using occupancy sensors provides management teams immediate and accurate insight to make critical evidence based decisions on workplace changes.
A workplace strategy crafted for the near future will realise the role of the traditional office setting and incorporate the best parts in this hybrid work environment.
Simultaneously incorporate space occupancy and other relevant data available to best navigate the changes and challenges ahead.
For immediate short term insights, businesses need to integrate a booking system to manage work rotations and transition employees back into the office.
Introduce an occupancy analytics engine to gather utilisation data of how space is actually utilised vs. spaces that are booked to truly understand what workplace changes need to be made.
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