The dynamic workplace is already the “new normal” so what are the implications?

by Julian Harrison, Business Unit Director, myfm

Stay home – protect the NHS – save lives……Return to work if it is safe to do so…Work from home if you can….”

Despite the mixed messages the reality is stark and clear; most office buildings occupancy levels remain at 20% or less.

So where has everyone gone and what does this mean for business owners and property managers?

There have already been a number of redundancies and these will increase when the full furlough scheme ceases at the end of October. But this still leaves the majority of the office workforce now working remotely and for most people this means working from home. So, for business owners what does this mean and is it sustainable? If the office workplace is now at home, the employer still has a duty of care for the employee in the workplace…staff wellbeing and HR policy need to be reviewed and central to the strategy. Below are some key checkpoints to consider when considering a remote working strategy:

  1. Furniture & DSE assessment – A laptop stacked on 4 books on the kitchen table doesn’t really cut it and potential for employee absence due to back and neck issues followed by litigation claims is significant.
  2. Information & Communications Technology (ICT) – This area is in overdrive right now; the novelty of Zoom has long worn off – do your collaboration tools actually work and are your teams happy/prepared to use them? Have you even asked them?
  3. Travel – Dependant on office circumstances, this is potentially one of the highest risk environments – the government and many businesses are asking employees to avoid public transport. Are there alternatives? Is there a bike to work scheme and is this now inclusive of electric bikes? Car-sharing is probably not such a good idea!
  4. Alternative Remote Locations – Not everyone can work effectively from home; lack of space, young children and pets may make this difficult and frustrating. We are already seeing a swift rise in pop-up office spaces both in the high street and pubs, as people are seeking more than the ad hoc facilities available from the likes of Pret but don’t want to come into the office. Given the alternatives, could this approach be encouraged/supported if it provides a safe remote workplace?
  5. The Office – There are numerous guides and innovations available to create a safe working environment for those that need/want to come to the office. Based on Covid risk assessment there are some key FM changes underpinning this:
    1. Air conditioning moved from re-circulation to fresh air ventilation
    2. Cleaning changed from presentation to sanitisation
    3. Interaction changed from randomisation to one-way system
    4. Occupancy changed from maximisation to screened and socially distanced
  6. Property & Estates – This is no longer a short-term issue; most employees and most industry commentators agree that normal service will never be resumed! Now is the time to review leases and reconsider property & estates strategy in the mid and long term.

 

The workplace is evolving at a tremendous pace, which is why it is such an important time for business leaders to reassess property and FM solutions to make sure they continue to meet business ambitions.

Property and FM has a direct bearing on factors such as productivity, staff retention and client perception. Simple changes to configurations can often make all the difference when it comes to achieving cost savings, compliance and greater efficiency.

myfm practitioners, change managers and subject-matter experts can help you align your business vision with your property and FM solution. We will listen to you in order to understand your ambition, assess and analyse your current solution and design and implement a plan to ensure your business can survive and thrive.

For more information contact: julian.harrison@myfm.co.uk

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