Employers and employees alike always want to ensure that their working environments are used as efficiently as they possibly can be.
But what that efficiency looks like is undergoing a transformational change.
As businesses gradually get back to the office and transition into a post-lockdown way of working, you will most likely be overseeing a workforce operating under very different working arrangements for months and possibly years to come. No longer will all your workers be expected in the office all the time, and so the needs of your workspaces will be affected as a result.
Here, we highlight three important considerations around how you can reshape your workspaces to keep them efficient, and explore how technology can help support the change:
1. Quality, not quantity
In pre-pandemic days, most businesses’ idea of efficient workspaces was focused on getting the most out of every single square foot at their disposal. Employees would be crammed into small desks or even cubicles, big desks would be squeezed into meeting rooms and businesses would ensure they were maximizing their existing real estate before investing in any more.
But as measures around social distancing and other COVID-19-related restrictions are likely to be with us for some time, this approach is no longer practical. Many would argue that it also isn’t morally acceptable, as employees will not want to feel that their employer is putting their health and well-being at risk.
The ideal future workspace is one that takes advantage of the reduced numbers attending the office to give people more space; which means:
- Fewer workstations with larger gaps between them,
- and also means bigger desks so that employees feel comfortable within their personal space.
This more relaxed approach should inspire trust between employer and workforce, and also help improve worker motivation, and ultimately productivity.
2. Use space more flexibly
To take the previous point a step further, the return to work is a golden opportunity for a wider rethink about your workspaces as a whole. For a start, the reasons that people will attend the office – on the days when they do attend – will be very different. Gone are the days when they come in because that’s where they work. The future will be one where they attend because they need to collaborate with colleagues face-to-face, or to take part in social events or team-building exercises.
From the perspective of your meeting rooms, that potentially means redesigning spaces to account for reduced capacities enforced by social distancing, and better accommodating video collaboration technology for those who attend meetings remotely. But perhaps the most fruitful change could be found in your breakout zones: increasing them in both number and in size can enable teams to work together or socialize in more relaxed, comfortable, distanced ways. Creating a workspace that merely facilitates safe post-pandemic working will not be enough: the workspace needs to be efficient enough for people to want to work from the office.
3. Keep things on schedule
Reduced office capacities and more flexible working models mean that individual employees may no longer be able to have an allocated desk in the office for their sole use. Different employees will use a workstation at different times of the week, but this will require careful and transparent management, not only to maximize the efficiency of the workspaces being used, but to ensure rules around sanitization are adhered to.
The most effective and transparent way of doing this is through a fully integrated desk management system. At a glance, any employee can see where they are booked to work on the times they are attending the office, and who else will be working around them at any particular time. Sanitization can be taken care of by scheduling in cleaning time either side of a desk being used, so that it is free of any infection risk before the next employee arrives to work there.