Here’s an outline of the top 3 considerations business leaders need to prioritise as return to work plans are created and implemented, with guidance on what workplace solutions and data can be leveraged to assist with workplace transformation projects.
1. Office redesign
Employee work behaviour has changed, so has the daily requirements placed on the workplace itself.
Introducing rotation-based working and enabling employees to work remotely will lead to far more intent and purpose of how they spend their time in the office to be productive. Employees will highly likely access the workplace for meetings, collaborative or group work and be more effective.
Therefore, it is vital that HR, Facilities and Senior Leadership teams work together to ensure that the right variety of workspaces
are made available to employees.
The first step to take in redesigning offices to account for hybrid work styles is to gauge employee sentiment - teams need to know how their employees want to work and shape the office around those requirements.
Moving forwards, occupancy data
can be leveraged to fine tune offices to match employee behaviour. Gathering data on how different workspace assets throughout the office are accessed and by which teams or departments, allows evidence based decisions to be made regarding office layout. Underused spaces can be repurposed to provide more of the most sought after environments.
Additionally, this data can be further leveraged to assist with space forecasting, as understanding team behaviour enables HR and Facilities teams to gauge the impact changes to the workforce would have on space demands
2. Supporting new work patterns
Remote work has become the norm for many and employees are reluctant to return to the office five days a week. In a recent survey, Forbes reported that 45%
of employees changing jobs would only accept roles which offered remote and flexible work. As such, hybrid work environments, offering employees a combination of remote and in office choices, are emerging as the dominant solution.
Seat or room booking systems
are central to enabling flexible work. Employees require the ability to think critically about their tasks at hand, decide for themselves which environment is best suited to carry out that task; then quickly and easily reserve that space.
Additionally, organisations will need to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to support employees working remotely. This means providing the right technology and tools, alongside any training and support that is needed.
The pandemic has greatly increased awareness surrounding mental health issues, and it’s time that organisations stepped up their efforts to ensure that even less visible employees are not falling through the cracks.
3. Employee health & safety
As employees return to the workplace it is critical that HR, facilities and Senior Leadership teams collaborate to ensure that the office is a safe and controlled environment, providing employees the visibility of measures in place.
The following are the absolute necessary measures which need to be adopted before employees are asked to return.
Provision of PPE
Throughout COVID19 the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) has become second nature to most. However, organisations have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are working as safely
This means safety equipment needs to be readily available, and its usage mandated where necessary - especially for those employees who are required to interact with multiple departments or outside organisations.
Maintaining a distance of two metres between individuals decreases the risk of viral transmission, and systems need to be introduced within the workplace to ensure that this is adhered to.
Limitations on occupancy, based on a minimum space requirement per person, have been implemented across the APAC region as employees returned to work. It is the responsibility of HR and facilities teams to ensure that the spaces available to employees are sufficiently spaced and any limitations are clearly communicated.
A good place to start is to integrate a booking system, which allows employees to see which spaces are available and book accordingly. Additionally, this allows management teams to ensure social distancing limits are adhered to by withholding and releasing assets as guidelines change.
Furthermore, office spaces need to become reactive. Occupancy sensors
enable teams to view their building’s usage in real time and respond appropriately to any spikes in capacity.
Track and trace
Alongside introducing limitations on space, it is vital that HR teams are able to quickly and easily identify those who need to self isolate should a breakout occur.
By using a seat or room booking system
, employees can only access desks, meeting rooms and other collaborative areas that are available. This allows HR teams and department managers to quickly identify those affected, and also control the number of employees able to access a space as assets can be added or removed from the system as guidelines change.
Providing a safe environment for your employees means guaranteeing that the indoor air quality
of your building is sufficiently high.
Temperature and humidity affect both our immune system’s response to a virus and the survivability of a virus within a space. Viruses thrive in sub-21°C environments and a relative humidity outside of the 40%-60% range can weaken immune systems.
The amount of time spent exposed to a virus greatly impacts the chance of being infected. As such it is very important that fresh air is regularly brought into the buildings.
Monitoring CO2 as a proxy for particulate matter levels enables facilities teams to quickly identify when the office is becoming unsafe and react accordingly.
- Integrate a seat or room booking system to manage space capacity when employees return to the office
- Use occupancy sensors to gather data on how workspaces are utilised and use this insight to inform your hybrid work model or real estate strategy
- Its critical to start monitoring environmental conditions within the office, especially air quality to avoid and reduce the transmission of any viruses
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