Preparing the workplace for returning employees
Returning to the workplace has finally become a reality for many businesses. Part of the return to the workplace includes preparing the work environment for employees. A reimagining of the workplace is happening thanks to the pandemic. The way the workplace functions, its purpose and how employees relate to it are being re-evaluated. Consequently, the reorganising and upgrading of offices is continuing with a priority being placed on technology and sustainability.
The effects of the pandemic on the workforce
The transformation of the workplace is not only being driven by the pandemic but also how employees and employers really feel about everything work related from commute times to the space they share with their colleagues. The pandemic has made us reassess why we go to the office, how we use it and what improvements can be made. Additionally, one surprising by-product of the pandemic has been an increased awareness of sustainability.
The continued productivity of employees while working remotely has been a positive outcome for organisations during the pandemic. A positive change in attitudes to working from home has resulted in a focus on productivity instead of necessitating employees to be present in the workplace. Despite positive changes such as these, many employees are looking forward to returning to their place of work. Reasons for wanting to return to the office are a combination of a desire for social interactions, a lack of appropriate tools to work as effectively at home, and face to face collaborations and client meetings. Changes such as these are pushing many organisations to offer a hybrid approach that addresses the reasons why employees want to return.
What kind of projects are transforming the workplace?
The sudden change to remote working in March 2020 revealed that some organisations were not adequately prepared for mass remote working. As a result, many organisations have prioritised the upgrading of their workplaces. Our project teams most frequently requested upgrades have been technology, space planning and sustainability.
Technology improvements have become a significant priority for business. The sudden transition to remote working in 2020 exposed the vulnerabilities of the IT systems of some organisations revealing how unprepared they were for remote working. According to our project management team the most frequently requested technology upgrades include audio visual equipment, touchless technology for access control, desk booking sensors, and technology to help our clients create smart buildings and increase their sustainability.
As a result of the upheaval of the pandemic, the layout of workplaces is changing to enable a safer work environment and focus on creating a better user experience of a workplace. The intersection of space planning and health and safety concerns for returning employees is now a part of the post pandemic workplace. Indoor air quality is coming under intense scrutiny in workplaces as the virus is transmissible through the air we breathe. As a result, getting the indoor air quality just right in the workplace has become a must have for clients to ensure the safety of their workforce. In combining concerns for safety with an increase in requests for more collaborative spaces, we aim to assist our clients to reassure their employees that their workplace is safe and foster a sense of unity and community for returning employees.
The increasing awareness of the need to improve the sustainability of the workplace has seen a greater demand from our clients to replace older equipment with newer, more efficient versions. Stakeholder’s awareness of the need to be sustainable is influencing decision-making processes when considering buying a product or service. Consequently, sustainability efforts by businesses are now expected to be more thoughtful; detailing sustainability goals and methods for accomplishing them. The need to be sustainable has resulted in many requests for upgrading general plant equipment such as boilers, air to water heat pumps and HVAC. Additionally, according to the HSA, ventilation will play a significant role in creating a healthier and safer workplace. As a result of this guidance, many upgrades include HVAC systems. Consequently, we are seeing all areas of buildings are being considered for improvements for sustainability.
Managing your project
Although the move to remote working was sudden and disruptive to business at the beginning of 2020, it is now possible to plan and prepare for the return of employees. Our experienced project management team have a comprehensive understanding of how workplaces operate. As a result, we minimise the disruption to our client’s business while making full use of our time on site.
The need during the pandemic to rely more heavily on technology has helped us streamline our project management processes. It has become easier for us to bring large design teams together more quickly has become part of our approach in completing projects more efficiently.
Although the pandemic has brought much disruption to businesses, it has allowed us to increase our efforts in creating great user experiences of the workplace. Our clients’ priorities for their workplaces have been altered by the pandemic to include making buildings smarter, more efficient and sustainable, reassessing the purpose of their workplaces and how they will use it in the future.
N. Kachaner, J. Nielsen, A. Portafaix and F. Rodzko (2020) ‘The Pandemic is Heightening Environmental Awareness’ (https://www.bcg.com/publications/2020/pandemic-is-heightening-environmental-awareness)
Mims, C. (2021) ‘How The Covid-19 Threat Could Help Us Breathe Easier At The Office’ – Wall Street Journal, 4th September 2021 (How the Covid-19 Threat Could Help Us Breathe Easier at the Office – WSJ)