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We’re a long way from returning to the office. But these next weeks and months of remote work are the perfect time for companies to look forward.
It’s never been more important to create a plan for employee health and safety, during and after the pandemic.
COVID-19 will have lasting impacts on how and where we work. Organizations will have to rethink everything from lunchroom setups to hot-desk policies.
Remote work will become the new-normal for many employees, while existing technology will be deployed to monitor offices and keep them clean.
Here are some strategies organizations may consider as we continue to work in this unprecedented time.
Rethinking Our Workspaces
In a post-COVID world, policies such as hot desking will need to be reassessed with employee health in mind
“Our need for personal space and increased hygiene has changed, possibly forever,” says Lisa Fulford-Roy, Senior Vice President and Head of CBRE’s Canadian Workplace Strategy Practice.
Employees moving from desk to desk and using high-contact surfaces that others have recently touched could become a thing of the past.
“As infection control and social distancing requirements persist, office employees will expect to work in spaces that conform to new standards,” says Fulford-Roy. “Not knowing who’s been sitting at your desk and touching your keyboard will be cause for concern.”
Distance at Work
The amount of office space per employee has been contracting for decades. This metric may have to increase for the first time as we rethink every aspect of office life, from busy lunchrooms to public restrooms.
Fulford-Roy says organizations will have to confront a tension between the desire for collaboration and personal safety.
Six-foot physical distancing will likely have to be maintained, while face masks and other personal safety precautions may be necessary.
Meetings will be conducted with fewer people, if at all, and virtual communications will continue to be an important part of every workday.
In offices where layout prevents proper distancing, there may be rotating shifts of remote work, to keep office density to a minimum.
Each organization will have to make different decisions based on workflow and the constraints of their physical space.
The Need for Technology
Companies may repurpose existing technology to combat the spread of the virus.
Some tenants and landlords were beginning to track office usage with sensors which determined heavily trafficked areas before COVID-19.
Post COVID, these same sensors could be used to monitor, track and determine which areas are most in need of deep cleaning, where density is too high, and which workstations are underused.