Now that more and more companies are actively returning employees to the office, how can safety be addressed most effectively, especially given the new, emerging types of workplaces?
The workplace is undergoing a major shift as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the advent of remote and hybrid working, companies are examining new workspace models like activity-based working and neighborhoods. They’re also considering new ways to integrate technology into their workspaces to maintain safety.
Returning to the post-pandemic office is just the beginning. In this article, we look at how to use OfficeSpace features to maintain safety in this new normal.
Before you make a plan to bring employees back to the office, it’s important to decide how the office will look in a post-COVID-19 world. Let’s take a look at some of the new workplace models companies are adopting:
A hybrid workplace consists of both remote and in-office work. This could mean some employees work in the office while others work from home, and switch per a shift-work schedule. Or it could mean some employees exclusively work from home or in the office indefinitely.
When it comes to planning the return to the office, leading with a hybrid workplace or shift schedules is a great way to make sure the company is following health and safety guidelines. By limiting the number of people in the office, you can determine seating arrangements, cleaning schedules, and other essential parts of the reopening process.
According to the Advanced Workplace, an agile organization is defined as “a business that has implemented specific strategic decisions that enable flexible working, in and out of the physical workspace.” While agile working can mean different things to different companies, this type of work style primarily focuses on collaborative spaces that can transform per changing needs.
An activity-based workplace or workspace (ABW) is a space within an office that directly reflects the work. Activity-based workspaces encourage movement throughout the workday and can affect major improvements to employee productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.
While these two terms are similar, they serve two different purposes: agile workspaces refer to flexibility both in and out of the physical office, whereas activity-based workspaces refer to the literal spaces used for different tasks. In either case, more flexibility is provided for employees in order to increase productivity.
Neighborhoods are areas of an office dedicated to specific departments or functions. In other words, office neighborhoods are to your office space as neighborhoods are to cities. Office neighborhoods are like city neighborhoods—areas of the office dedicated to specific teams or functions. Without a dedicated desk for every worker, companies can save space and reduce overheads while increasing productivity, engagement, and happiness. Some companies and facilities teams even choose to plan their workspaces neighborhood by neighborhood.
With all these new workplace arrangements, how is it possible to keep everyone safely distanced and protected while also organizing seating plans, maximizing limited desk capacity, and taking safety into account? Let’s take a look at the OfficeSpace features that can help find the best ways to plan, implement, and adapt.
Flexible seating is seating within an office that’s not necessarily assigned to one person. In some offices, employees may use desk booking to book a specific seat. These spaces typically have large, open areas with smaller private offices or rooms throughout, which allow employees to work in an environment that is most conducive to their productivity.
With flexible seating, you can quickly set up any combination of assigned seating and shared desks on your floor plan and manage them however you like. Facility professionals can control how each desk is used, limit when certain desks are available, and offer shift-based seating to bring employees back to the office. Flexible seating is also a great way to bring peace of mind to employees who might be nervous returning to the office.
Distancing Planner simplifies the challenge of physical distancing in the workplace. This new feature uses AI technology to generate distanced seating plans that make the best use of your reduced seating capacity. With Distancing Planner, you can instantly generate safe and accurate distanced seating plans and discover the maximum amount of safe assigned or bookable seats you can provide to your employees.
Working in shifts, also increasingly known as the emerging hybrid workplace, is one office reopening method that’s becoming very popular as companies embrace a new kind of workplace. Working in shifts is a preferred workstyle, as it reduces the number of people working in the office at once and makes it easier to practice physical distancing in the office.
If you’re returning people to the office in groups, OfficeSpace can help you create shift-based seating plans in seconds. Display shift-based seating on your floor plan and limit desk availability to accommodate your cleaning schedules.
Scenario planning can help facility managers and workplace teams oversee quick, effective changes to all aspects of the office due to it being both a process and a piece of workplace management software.
Scenarios help you draft versions of your floor plans, so you can experiment with different setups to solve your toughest space problems. Reconfigure your entire workplace, change seating configurations, or make quick updates like adding hand sanitizer stations. When you’re ready for an update to go live, merge and share your changes with your employees in real time.
Where’s the nearest hand sanitizer? How many people can fit into that meeting room? Has the location of my desk changed? With constant updates to your facility, employees are going to have a lot of questions. These OfficeSpace features can help you communicate workplace changes in real-time and keep everyone in your company connected and informed.
Safeguard is a new feature that helps you screen for COVID-19 risk factors and provides a safe work environment as you bring employees back to the workplace.
It allows you to monitor potential COVID-19 symptoms, stay compliant, and provide a safe environment as staff returns to the office. Because Safeguard is built into OfficeSpace, everyone can complete their Safeguard form, book desks and rooms, and access everything else they need in one tool through their desktop, Slack, Microsoft Teams, or the OfficeSpace mobile app.
Communicate facility changes to your employees in real time—the location of new sanitizing stations, one-way traffic flows, and the desks your people can book. Visual Directory® puts interactive floor plans of your workplace on every device, making it easy for employees to access whatever and whoever they need, quickly and safely.
Using shared desks to return people to the office? Desk booking lets employees reserve their workspace either in advance or on the spot. As a process, it often goes hand in hand with hot desking, and while neither concept is new, COVID-19 has forced businesses to review the way booking procedures are implemented.
Make sure everyone can find a seat. Employees can use Desk Booking to find, book, and check into desks in seconds on any device. Managers can limit when certain desks are available to allow for enhanced cleaning between use.
Workplace distancing is the new normal for employees in the COVID-19 era, and room booking software can help.
Employees can maintain physical distancing in meeting spaces with powerful room booking software that works on any device. Employees can book rooms in real-time from floor plans, office calendars, or mobile apps. Maximum room capacity is displayed at the time of booking, so it’s easy for everyone to book the right-sized space for their meetings.
Help everyone stay focused and save time. Quick commands through Slack integration help your people search for whatever and whoever they need and quickly book rooms with ease.
OfficeSpace works everywhere your people do, even when they’re working from home. Help everyone familiarize themselves with the workplace before they come into the office using a personal mobile device. If your team lives inside Slack, we have an app for that, too.
Do employees feel comfortable coming into the office? Who do you need to notify when someone tests positive for COVID-19?
Check-in can help you understand how desks and rooms are being used throughout your facility, with touchless check-in that works on desktop, mobile, tablet, and email. Companies can encourage employees to check in to their room and desk reservations using a personal mobile device and limit surface sharing in your facility.
See who’s been in your facility and make sure your assigned desks are being used. Badge Integration helps you see the daily usage of buildings, floors, and seats directly on your floor plan as intuitive heat maps.
Just as it’s important to know your building’s health and how your space can be adjusted to meet health and safety standards, so is knowing who is in the office at any given time. With this data on hand, you can perform detailed contact tracing and make better desk allocation decisions with the limited capacity of your facility.
Planning your company’s return to the office comes with its own set of unique challenges. But with the right insights, tools, and workplace analytics, it can be a much smoother process.
Better workplace data is the key to creating a smart, long-term strategy for your post-pandemic workplace. Real-time reports and actionable data inside OfficeSpace measure what matters and show you what your people need.
There’s no room for guesswork when planning your company’s return-to-office. OfficeSpace has all of the tools you need to measure what matters, so you can make smarter, data-driven decisions that improve your office reopening and make it as safe as possible. See what’s working—and what isn’t—and adapt your strategy to create the best workplace for everyone.
Photos: MaximeUtopix, airfocus, Austin Distel, MaximeUtopix, OSS