Although some businesses have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst to shift entirely to a remote working model, many others see either full or partial work in an office environment as an essential part of their long-term future; and virtually every business retaining an element of office work will have to make big changes to adapt to the post-pandemic landscape.
This goes far beyond the social distancing measures that have been put in place in the short (and possibly the long) term. The pace and extent of change is so fundamental that the ways in which people work, how they collaborate, and their relationship with their job and employer must also be taken into consideration.
The key to a successful adaptation is effective workspace scheduling.
Without it, the already challenging task of creating a functional workplace of value to the business could become a near-impossibility. Here, you’ll discover why scheduling plays such an important part, and the key elements around its implementation.
Why is scheduling important?
As beneficial as remote working can be in a number of different areas, there are some functions that either have to be done face-to-face, or that are far easier or more efficient when conducted physically.
Collaboration is an excellent example of this. When a team of people need to freely exchange ideas, video collaboration can be a hindrance as individuals can’t easily see the expressions of others, not to mention people inevitably talking over each other. So they need to have the facilities available to do so within the office, but that requires:
- Everyone’s schedules to align in such a way that all relevant employees can attend
- A meeting room or breakout area of sufficient size to be available (taking social distancing into account if required)
- Other workstations to be available for attendees to work within the office for the rest of the day in question
Only organized, effective scheduling can ensure that all of these needs are fulfilled, and that teams can still work together face-to-face without inconvenience or compromise.
It’s also important to take into account the feelings and attitudes of employees with regard to office work.
This applies in two ways:
- The first is the general wariness around returning to the office: in the United Kingdom, recent CIPD research has found that 45% of workers surveyed remain anxious about returning to the workplace. This rises to 62% among those who feel they have not been adequately consulted by their employer about the return.
- The second concerns convincing those who prefer working from home that there is still merit and value to them returning to the office at least partially.
Scheduling can neatly address both of these problems, firstly by demonstrating that shared workstations are sufficiently distanced and that time allowances will be made between booking for full sanitization. In turn, employees can easily see that the times they are expected in the office fit in well with their work-life balance, and that they will be able to collaborate with the right people when they’re in attendance.
What are the keys to getting scheduling right?
There are many elements that must combine in order to create a scheduling framework that suits both employees and employers alike in the future. But ultimately, there are three guiding principles:
- Integration: workstations, meeting rooms, breakout zones, sanitization needs, employees, teams, management and more should all be brought together on a single platform, so that all needs can always be covered quickly and easily
- Transparency: everyone must have full visibility of future scheduling arrangements at any time. This doesn’t just include their own commitments, but also those of other people, so they can see when they’ll be able to meet up and collaborate face-to-face with colleagues
- Technology: with a mix of office and home-based work, employees will need to access their scheduling platform from a mix of different devices, from PCs to smartphones. A cloud-based platform enables this and allows always-on connectivity to the integrated, transparent data mentioned above.
Armed with this innovation, your business can be in pole position to pivot towards a post-pandemic future that meets your evolving targets and goals, while empowering your workforce with reliability, flexibility and productivity.