Workplaces should cater for safety, flexibility and human sentiment
Government advice is once again to work from home if you can.
With the new regulations in play, any open office must be covid secure and companies across the UK are walking a tightrope as they prioritise the health and safety of their workers while balancing the need for some to physically be together in order to maintain cashflow and ultimately business survival.
Most of our clients are telling us that their immediate concern is how they re-mobilise existing business environments while ensuring employees are safe. Re-assessing their future real estate needs is a little further down the line.
As we adapt our workplaces to address the immediate concerns, it is paramount that we consider three things:
Creating a safe environment for your team is paramount and a thorough review of your space will highlight any risk areas that can be addressed immediately or should be reviewed as part of a longer-term health and safety strategy.
We’re currently working with tenants and landlords to find immediate solutions for high-touch items, and installing easy-to-switch items such as motion-activated doors (and the associated tech), temporary amendments to existing ironmongery, more hygienic finishes to work surfaces, and sensor-driven toilet flush systems. Making sure that any new changes to your space don’t compromise existing safety measures (e.g. fire regulations).
To aid the need for employees’ to return to work, we manage the sourcing of any furniture additions such as Perspex shields, desk dividers and sanitation stations. We’re providing our clients with desk utilisation plans, showing which desks are available for use in line with the government guidelines, and including proposals for the restructuring of desk arrangements where required.
We manage the removal and storage of surplus furniture should that be necessary, which can be brought back in as the company flexes, re-installed over a weekend when the time is right.
We determine safe circulation systems around the office and define proposals to aid this change through additional wayfinding and finishes.
Air systems should be assessed and we provide recommendations to reduce the risk of virus transmission. We can also install air quality monitoring systems as well as temperature sensors and headcount technology so that you have transparency and control of your environment and population.
Many HR and facilities teams have already risk assessed every inch of the working environment to mitigate disaster but wait on tenterhooks with every new government announcement in case they need to flex procedures and policies in response.
Now is the time to spend money wisely as there will be further adjustments to what is ‘normal’ over the next 12 months. If investing now in new practices will positively impact your top line and business, invest, but know that that you may have to re-adjust in the coming months. If the impact will be negligible, only invest where it is needed.
As restrictions ease again in future, you will want to allow more people to return to the office with confidence, especially if your business survives on working together.
There is a sweet spot for your company: a perfect ratio of home workers to office workers that will allow both business and individuals to thrive. Once that is identified, you can begin to look beyond your immediate response and work out what the future of work looks like for your team.
We’re working with our clients to establish short, mid and long-term options that impact team wellbeing and output and optimise floorplates to allow greater density of staff and repurposing of space over time. Longer term, we’re assisting with the redesign of office space considering the impact that this experience has had on your business, who uses your space and how.
Should you find that your current office is no longer appropriate for your business, we are uniquely placed to help find alternative premises, working with agents and landlords to find and design covid secure Cat A+ space and serviced office space for companies that need new premises and flexible leasing terms at minimal cost.
Safety and security are fundamental human needs and your employees should be confident that you are doing all you can to protect the health of them and their families.
We work with our clients not just by delivering safe protocol and practical space solutions but also by engaging with their people. We help to analyse job functions and the necessity of being present in the workplace.
Some people need to be present in order to fulfil their roles, some people need to be there occasionally and others don’t need to be there at all. Due to physical or mental wellbeing, there may be workers who need to be at home, or indeed who need to be away from the home, whether that’s in the office or a third space. Through employee surveys, home-working assessments and interviews we develop a deep understanding of the outcome they need and help you translate that into tailor-made best practice.
We support with change management and comms services and provide a Hybrid Working playbook to provide clear guidelines and understanding.
We also provide ergonomic furniture for home offices where it's necessary, ensuring that every employee is considered and catered for, wherever they are working from.