As we settle into an altered state of business-as-usual, what should employers consider for the post-COVID-19 future?
Offices around the world have started reopening, each in their own way but all with noticeable changes. Hygiene stations offering hand sanitizer and cleansing wipes, enforced mask and social distancing protocols, even new layouts and barriers between desks. While the adjustments vary by office, everyone has some changes to adapt to. As we settle into an altered state of business-as-usual, what should employers consider for the post-COVID-19 future?
The uncertainty that comes with a quickly evolving global health crisis forces companies to reevaluate their ability to adapt their workplace for varying needs. From an open space for collaboration to a private, more distanced work zone, offices will have to provide the flexibility to quickly and easily accommodate employees’ needs in regard to comfort, health and changing environmental factors.
Providing agile spaces that create a sense of safety and security for employees is essential to performance and will draw employees to them for collaboration. By offering a variety of socially distanced places for employees to work, employers can help workers maintain autonomy and control over their location while ensuring a safe and productive environment is available to everyone.
In response to the call for greater safety precautions, options are now available to help control the spread of microbes. By installing collaborative surfaces like Hygienic CeramicSteel in busy spaces, companies can create a clean place for people to work together again while still feeling protected. Face-to-face collaboration can resume, free from technical glitches and other disturbances that can inhibit new ideation and productivity.
Flexibility also includes employers’ willingness to adapt to an increase in requests for remote work time. By allowing individuals to work from home more frequently, organizations can reduce population density in the office and provide fewer points of contact between employees to reduce the risk of spreading illness. In today’s digital world, many tasks use online tools and platforms to get work done. This won’t change as people come back to the office, because transitioning between the office and remote work is a more seamless process than ever for employers who wish to allow for a more flexible work schedule.
Dezeen’s recent discussion with interior designer Helen Berresford revealed “The modern office is a great leveller. Everyone has a similar amount of space, the same seat to sit on, similar facilities and technology.” On the other hand, employees without access to an ideal or sufficient home office set up can often find working remotely less productive and more stressful than working in the office. By discovering the right balance between remote and on-site work, efficiency can be enhanced according to individual work styles and needs.
No matter the format, collaboration in the workplace still has to happen for business to continue to thrive; the challenge is doing it safely and effectively. To mitigate reduced interaction, companies can outfit workspaces with mobile collaborative worktools like Textura Mobile for appropriately distanced teamwork, while creating comfortable drop-down zones designed for individual work.
Health + Wellbeing
In 2018 and 2019, mental health accounted for the highest number of workplace sick days – 12.8 million. As mental health challenges in the workplace rise, it becomes more evident that companies should begin considering a focused health and wellbeing strategy with returns to the office looming in the midst of a global health crisis. If employee wellness isn’t considered upon their return, it could result in increased absenteeism and a drop in overall performance.
Changing the way remote or flexible work is viewed will take time, but everyone from upper management to coworkers taking the opportunity to understand different needs and comfort levels is an important step to providing the most effective work environment for all employees. By taking this step, organizations can move their company culture into a new realm of productivity and inclusion, while encouraging human connection.
Looking ahead, the post-pandemic employer must remember that spaces have the power to influence emotion. By creating a healthy workplace that promotes security and makes employees feel at ease while getting their work done, they will be healthier, happier and more productive – effectively making your business thrive.