So your business had been operating remotely for most of last year – whether you wanted it to or not. In the process, you’ve found that many of your employees are enjoying the flexibility that working from home brings, not to mention the time and money they’ve saved on commuting and lunches. So the old adage ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ applies here, and you should keep everyone working from home right through 2021 and beyond, right?
Well, not necessarily.
While home working has helped keep employees better protected from COVID-19, it remains a double-edged sword. Many have felt the mental strain of juggling work with caring for kids whose schools have been closed, the physical strain of working from couches and kitchen tables for long periods of time, and the social strain of not being able to communicate with co-workers and friends as easily as before.
All this means that there is still great value in bringing workers back into an office environment, even if only on a partial basis. And with vaccines now being given to those who need them, businesses will most likely be able to restore some sort of normality to office life. But what could – and should – that normality look like?
Three post-COVID foundations
There are three important elements that should be part of any good business’s post-COVID workplace strategy:
1: Define the purpose of your workplace
Offices will play a very different role in the long-term, however any business operates, but it’s important to work out exactly what the real estate is there for. Is it solely for meetings and collaboration? Could it be a hub for socializing? Will it form part of a hybrid working model through shared workstations? Should it be all of these things? Answering these questions at the start of planning will define clear goals, and helps to shape the right workplace to meet those goals.
2: Build confidence through flexibility
A survey conducted last year by EHS Today found that more than half of US employees were worried about exposure to COVID-19 in their places of work. This concern is understandable at the current time, and although vaccination should reduce the overall risk, many employees will still harbor concerns. Inspiring confidence in the workforce is therefore vital, and a key way of doing so is by giving them freedom to work in the way they feel comfortable with: socially distanced in the office, continuing at home if they don’t immediately feel ready to return, or a combination of the two.
3: Make safety and compliance transparent
Keeping employees safe will be an ongoing process in the months and years to come. The workforce will understandably want all the relevant information regarding their safety and the working arrangements within the office. This means giving them easy, real-time access to who is working where, when and with who, as well as what measures are in place around distancing and sanitization as required. As regulations change (and are hopefully relaxed), it will also be critical to keep everyone updated as to how the workplace will evolve and why.
How technology can help
Bringing all this together is not the work of a moment, and needs careful planning and coordination, and this is where technology, and especially the cloud, can make a big difference. With a clear, goal-driven approach to the post-COVID workplace, and with the workspace management solution in place to support it, the future workplace can be:
- Reactive: by using data to drive changes, according to employee and business needs
- Flexible: by delivering total oversight of workstation and meeting room booking and availability
- Collaborative: by enabling employees to plan meetings with colleagues in advance
- Social: by redefining the office as a place for team-building and growing relationships
- Safe: by ensuring everyone can work without risk to their health and safety
Given the possibilities, it’s no coincidence that according to WORKTECH Academy, more than 70% of C-suite executives are prioritizing new tech investments. At a time of uncertainty and complexity, innovation that delivers clarity, efficiency and reassurance shines a light on the road ahead.
With the assistance of WORKTECH Academy insights gathered, we have turned to ten experts in their network – academics, designers, architects, developers, scientists and journalists – for their insights on the conditions shaping up the workspace and our working environment in general and shared the trends that are shaping our workspace in 2021 and beyond. Ger your copy here: https://www.condecosoftware.com/modern-workplace/asset/ebooks/ebook-workplace-trends-2021/