November 10, 2020

4 Ways Workplaces Will Change Post-Pandemic

7 minute read

Going back to the office, whenever that happens for different regions and industries, is going to be an interesting and potentially stressful experience for many. In an effort to effectively balance safety, employee sentiments, productivity and logistics, many enterprises and leading corporate real estate companies have designated task forces to design the workplace of our future. Representatives from human resources, operations, communications and real estate are being pulled together to answer the questions on every employee’s mind: when will we be going back to the office and what will it be like?

The office will be unquestionably different from how it existed before 2020, but that doesn’t necessarily mean every change will be noticeable. As we move forward, the more obvious components of return-to-work initiatives, such as mandatory temperature checks, may fade, but workplace readiness solutions will carry on, keeping us safe long into the future.

Employees wearing protective masks collaborate on a whiteboard in a post-COVID office environment.

Flexible Work Schedules

The pandemic has provided the world with the opportunity to evaluate different modes of working, and with 90% of employers saying that working from home has not hurt productivity in their organizations, it seems as though flexible working schedules are here to stay. The ability to work both remotely and in the office has presented organizations with opportunities to save money on their facilities while keeping building occupancy at a safe level.

This hybridized approach to the workplace will have interesting implications for the way working lives are structured. We’ve already seen organizations asking their employees to treat the office as a collaboration zone - not a place to go and send emails. Perhaps in the future, this will look like a split week with two days in office for physical collaboration, and three days working from home. These types of arrangements could be a boon to working parents, turning a situation that has been hard on careers into something beneficial down the road.

Social Distancing in the Workplace

There are a lot of highly visible ways that social distancing can play out in the workplace. From decreasing the capacity of meeting rooms, lobbies and elevators, to marked desks, the first application of social distancing at work is going to result in a lot more highly visible signage. 

However, as enterprises have the capacity to deploy more future-proof solutions, much of this will fade into the background and become a part of daily life without the omnipresence of informational posters. As corporate workspaces take advantage of digital mapping and indoor intelligence technologies, they will be able to monitor congregation in smart dashboards. 

The infrastructure for workplace readiness solutions is the same one that allows for building location-aware employee apps with comprehensive integrations. By establishing social distancing protocols as business rules, an organization could then limit the number of people permitted in a room so it is removed as an option during the meeting booking process, and triggers sanitation processes based on room occupancy

Smarter HVAC Systems 

According to the CDC, respiratory viruses are transmitted through physical contact, droplet transmission, and through the air we breathe. In the case of COVID-19, airborne transmission is relatively uncommon, but can happen with prolonged exposure in enclosed spaces with “inadequate ventilation or air handling that allows a build-up of suspended small respiratory droplets and particles.” 

It has therefore never been more important to make sure HVAC operations are optimized to keep people healthy. This could mean extended HVAC hours, enhanced filter maintenance and air quality sensors to keep the air in offices fresher and circulating more efficiently. By using occupancy data from an indoor intelligence platform, HVAC systems can be automated to focus on high occupancy parts of a building. This would improve air quality without running unnecessary HVAC operations at great expense.

Mandatory Face Coverings

In the short to medium term, we will likely see the continuation of mandatory face coverings in many workplaces. For those who may be asymptomatic, face coverings are a simple solution to prevent the spread of transmission via droplets. With employee and visitor safety being the number one priority for 64% of organizations, we anticipate that this low-cost solution, along with temperature checks and exposure surveys, will be around until a vaccine becomes available. 

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The average person spends a third of their life - 90,000 hours - at work, but what that work looks like is a dynamic concept open to reinvention in the wake of a major global pandemic. Offices will likely look a little different as they reopen in the coming months with increased health and safety signage, face coverings and non-contact infrared thermometers. However, in time, larger offices will increasingly implement less obtrusive technology solutions that support social distancing, contact tracing, and other public health initiatives, and the medium for this workplace safety mission will fade into the background of our daily working lives.  

 

Topic(s): experience , Corporate
Author

David Xides

David Xides is an Enterprise Account Executive based in New York with a wide range of experience delivering enterprise solutions and expertise in corporate indoor intelligence technology.

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