Offices and the places we work have been changed by the demands of fighting the Coronavirus. The pandemic has changed the ways in which we need to think about workspaces.
Companies, organisations and governments are all struggling to fully understand the implications of Covid-19 and what the “new ways of working” will look like.
Returning to the Workplace
As the UK looks to return to the workplace, exactly how and why can be difficult for managers and leaders to answer. There is no doubt that working from home (WFH) has become the norm for many UK workers for over a year. This quick cultural shift has for many been a mixed blessing. The fraught commutes and difficult work-life balance have been replaced by zoom meetings and cloud-based working – that previously had been the preserve of the freelancer and employees of more technologically enlightened. The UK has seen a paradigm shift in attitudes towards remote working and it is hard to imagine all organisations going back to the rigid ways of working pre-covid.
That said 100% remote working is not for everyone. Along with Zoom fatigue, not everybody has the space or facilities in their homes to comfortably work. Some activities just work better face-to-face, even if that is face-covered, socially distanced.
Flexible, Hybrid Workplaces
It has become obvious to RFM and the many companies and organisations we advise and work with, that a flexible, hybrid workplace will become the norm.
The future of work and office space will involve a mixture of solutions including:
- Remote working, both long-term and part-time
- Virtual offices
- Agile working
- Flexible workspaces
- Temporary and short-term office space
- Shared and pay-as-you-go workspace
- De-densified offices and meeting hubs.
The lessons learned in FM delivery through dealing with the ongoing situation.
Recently Fiona Stewart, Facilities Management Managing Director, has been talking with Premises & Facilities Management about the future of workspaces and helping people return to the workplace.
Supporting Businesses to Keep Staff Safe
At first, clients didn’t know what they required and asked for our support. We understood that getting staff back safely into workplaces can be a cause for nervousness. People want to feel safe – and must be at the centre of everything you do.
Communication in Returning to the Workplace
We found clearly communicating about all changes was critical to reassure staff. That included visual things such as signage, written documents and socially distanced face-to-face conversations. Communication shouldn’t stop once people are back in. Keeping clear lines of communication open enables you to adjust and respond to challenges promptly as they arise.
Outsourcing to an FM Expert
Managing a portfolio of properties, in many different settings from healthcare and education, to residential and commercial helped us to take best practice and share it across all clients. One of the many benefits of outsourcing your Facilities Management to property experts!
Visual Planning and Rethinking Workspaces
Visual planning technology and experienced staff have helped optimise workplaces whilst ensuring safety. As offices are reorganised, spaces are used in different ways, sometimes the extra spread in the workplace leads to unused areas or conversely higher traffic in parts. Attention has to be paid to seating layouts and implementing one-way systems.
Changing Working Patterns when Returning to the Workplace
We’ve consulted with clients to redesign the use of their sites, adjusting working hours, changing rotas and staggering returns to the workplace. We also provided technology and paperwork to monitor site entry, recording symptoms, contact details, travel plans and more.
Additional cleaning and housekeeping duties have been implemented pretty much universally. The list of other services and changes is vast but includes risk assessments, decontamination, marking out floors and desks to social distance, providing PPE, sanitisers and thermometers.
We treat client’s buildings as if they were our own, focussing on hygiene and safety while ensuring communication is clear and transparent.