Safe Back to Work

COVID19 has accelerated many changes in the way that companies manage their offices. They have changed the focus, before the lockdown the main focus was performance but now the most important one is health. Create a Safe Back to Work is the new grail.

COVID-19 has accelerated some changes in Workplaces

In March 2020, workplaces were forced to close and suddenly millions of people all around the world started to work at home.  Now, it is time to reopen workplaces again. Although it is happening in a pretty different context that makes former layouts, designs and mindsets obsolete.

There are many blog articles talking about how COVD19 has impacted in workplaces and which will be the most important changes that they will face. Nevertheless, from our experience and meeting with major corporates and SME companies there are 5 aspects that companies must cover and deal with:

  1. Flexibility in the use of the space, specially adopting flexible workstations and envisioning hybrid workspaces
  2. Managing in an efficient way workstation and meeting room booking processes.
  3. Combining remote work with presential work, as the result of combining work with personal life.
  4. Need of more efficiency and automatization.
  5. Redesigning spaces to address new needs and uses, aligned with ABW approaches. poner el link a ese artículo.

The main reason behind a so quick adoption has been COVID19 outbreak. The return to workplaces must be as safe as possible and the way spaces are designed and conceived will make the difference. Keeping social distancing, recognized as one of the best ways of avoiding COVID19 spread, is closely linked to how spaces are.

How are these elements impacting in Workplaces?

Most areas of activity within enterprises have been impacted during this period due to the changes that COVID19 has introduced.

Facility Management:

  • Control capacity and occupancy of workstations and meeting rooms.
  • Transform fixed workspaces into flexible ones.
  • Set and verify COVID19 protocols.
  • Use data analytics to control space performance and uses.

IT:

  • Adopt booking platforms for workstations and meeting rooms.
  • Buy equipment for flexible workstations and remote work.
  • Install a tracking systems to control COVID19 protocols.
  • Use a tracking system to introduce data analytics.

Design

  • Adapt the design of the space to help keep social distancing.
  • Use furniture compatible with flexible workplaces and COVID19 sanitation protocols.
  • Transform spaces for their real use and activity.

Operations

  • Reinforce sanitation.
  • Establish shifts for using common areas.
  • Set hydrogel dispensers in different strategic points.
  • Control COVID19 protocols.

Can technology help in adapting workplaces?

All these new control protocols, design changes, become old-fashion workplaces into flexible ones, reinforce sanitation, in order to create a safe and trusty back to work will not be possible without technology. Technology help us automate most of the activities we have previously described.

As we talked in this article technology will help create a postCOVID19 safe work environment: our “new normal” at work. Nevertheless, it is not just because of this recent situation regarding COVID19. In the next years, workplaces will evolve, no chances to not happening,  and technology will be a key asset on this challenging period that COVID19 breakout has boosted:

1.     Control COVID19 protocols

The most powerful set of tools to control COVID19 are based on computer vision. This system allows to measure social distancing and other relevant parameters as occupancy and capacity. And to set alerts to adapt sanitation activities to the real use or even to reinforce it in the most crowded areas.

Other systems as beacons or Wi-Fi tracking can measure occupancy or capacity, but don’t have the possibility of measure social distancing in an accurate way due to technology limitations. That is one of the pillars for creating a safe place to be.

2.     Flexible Workstations

Mixing booking platforms and real time occupancy control systems allows workplaces’ managers to automate and better control flexible workstations. Let’s explain it a little more:

  • Booking system: get the possibility of make the reservation of a workstation or meeting room.
  • Real time occupancy control system: this solution makes possible having accurate and actual information about the use of desktops and meeting rooms, and so automate the whole booking system by controlling ghost meeting and occupancy in real time. Sure you have feel the frustration of not having a free meeting room even you are seeing it is free..
  • Also, these both system working together allow employees and users knowing in real time how crowded are the spaces and take their own decisions based on consistent and actual information.

3.     Design according real needs

How a workspace is designed is key in the new normal. It is necessary to adapt the spaces to the flexible work and the real needs of the employees. But how can we know the real needs? By metrics, using a system that gives KPIs about the actual use of the space and provides architects the inputs  for new designs. Even it is a great starting point, stopping on it has no sense. Using a continuous virtuous circle process based on design-monitor-learn and so, understanding how different and evolutive designs meets people’s actual needs will increase your space performance.

4.     Track the space

Tracking users behavior in the space is key for all these activities and much more. For example: knowing the use of common areas like toilets, canteen, coffee machine, lounge spaces, etc. This approach and the systems that make it possible allow operation managers to adjust cleaning staff and reinforce hygienical procedures according to the actual use of the spaces.

Or even, allow the new called Chief Healthy Officer to readjust protocols or adapt design in those areas where safety is at risk.

So, COVID19 has introduced several changes in organizations, and boosted many others, but the good news is that technology ease companies to control and drive all these changes without dying trying.


You can learn more about creating a Safe Back to Work using the information in this organization.