A Covid Safe Workplace - How are Corporate Real Estate to respond?

Updated: Jul 24, 2020

Whether you cut the crisis into four or seven stages is very much personal taste, we are definitely in the management and resolution stages of the current crisis, or if you prefer other crises language, the prevention and resilience phase.

So as a Corporate real estate person, what does that mean to me?

Fig 1 Pandemic or Crisis Stages


How are we going to going to manage a world where every Corporate workplace will have a mixed community of folk who fall into the three categories below.

Fig 2 The Three workplace population types - In Virus recovery mode

What are the three communities or styles of traditionally handling or accommodating them in the workplace?

Fig 3 Three types of workplace inhabitant

Assigned Seating

1st question are we going to safe social distance the entire floor(s) or building - thats a resounding yes, for the foreseeable till we have either or both:

- 100% certainty on whose in each of the three communities of worker, survived infection, not infected or isolating / in treatment.

- Developed a vaccine and treated everyone who has not been infected.

Consequences for Corporate Real Estate

Re-stack every floor or eliminate one in every two desks, making them unavailable, which has a knock on impact:

- 50% of the seating means that you will have to Roster people in and out of the building if, helped by two factors can they work effectively at home and what proportion of people have we then got who will need to be "rostered".

- That means effectively planning people in and out of the building or on and off site?

- If that's the case , it's simple enough to roster 1 week on and 1 week off OR make the assigned seats bookable.

- If you do that you then need a booking system for desks and those that use one for 'on demand hot desks" can simply extend their licenses.

Room and Desk Booking System basic requirements - enhancing Microsoft to deliver a safe workplace - 8 requirements

- Those that haven't looked for a Room and Desk booking system recently make sure that has at least the following features, above those requirements, in your normal shopping list:

1. For those on Microsoft, using Outlook and Exchange you want a system that's easy to use for the advanced user and simple "i want a room user, fast, bookable on web and mobile, so I can be productive".

We'd recommend as they are A Microsoft Gold Partner, so your CTO will relax a little, they host their cloud service on Azure servers (Microsoft) which have great security, resilience and scalability, so your risk and security community will be more relaxed.

2. Crucial: make sure that irrespective of what you key into "Outlook or the Booking system keep the Exchange (room database) accurate and up to date , to prevent double bookings.

3. No 2 That synchronised database, needs something called Exchange Synch, which does what it says on the can, it keeps the booking system database and Exchange/Outlook in synch.(preventing double booking of seats, safety protocol breaches, it's a small requirement but crucial to a safe workplace)

4. We need a system that protects us from the now huge burden, of a virus free workplace, or one that is just safe.

Fig 4 What do you need to add to Office 365? It cannot handle these areas below without help!

5. We need a new level of "cleaning" such that every occupied seat is sanitised prior to next occupation.

A Visual Dashboard for your cleaning staff or a list of "clean these desks" from your desk booking system.

Fig 5 Visual Cleaning and Sterilising guide

6. Stating the obvious, but those who have been able to adapt to working remotely or who thrive in it, it will clearly increase.

A word of warning as the author has extensive experience here, many new entrants to this work-style will NOT, plan breaks in video based meetings or plan video session follow up time, ie they will just have back to back meetings, but get no follow up work done.

Plan your time: Allow follow up Time, Plan a break from the screen!

7. Social Spaces are going have to be re-thought, repurposed or shut.

8. Less private offices, as a shortage of space could see walls come down.

For those that haven't seen it 70 Corporates asking "how were asking how do we manage a safe workplace" on this webinar

Fig 6 Safe Workplace Webinar, The questions are interesting!

There are some simple Landlord Recommendations

1. Maintain humidity levels between 40-60% to reduce Virus spread and infection chances.

2. Increase fresh air intake to maintain positive air pressure

3. Open building dampers to push inside air out of the building

Facilities Recommendations

1. Clean Desk encouragement - less areas for viruses to lodge

2. Change cleaning to enable "during the day" cleaning to increase availability

3. Plan a staged re-call of team members, those who cant work at home, critical to functions 1st.

4. Seat pre planning based on a 6ft radius minimum, or every 3 seats to be safe, avoiding back to back or opposite seating.

5. Slowly increase occupancy from 20-30% 1st whilst increasing support for the work from home team members.

6. With Shared seating tackle buffer periods to allow cleaning and ensure desks are cleaned before they are flagged available.

These recommendations came from the webinar and the question and answers session

Q: How are we going to deliver that?

A: Use the tools we have, and add to them.

Fig 7 How does the Data flow from Microsoft Office 365 through the integrated partners?

Here's the key bit, how are we going to get visibility of:

- Is whatever policy we stipulate being adhered to

- Where are the breaches?

- Who met who who is now infected - traceability?

- What needs cleaning?

- Where's safe to book?

A: You pull the data out of three different systems and aggregate it into your "Safe Workplace Dashboard"

Why is this important?

Forget the safety for a second, the predictions vary, but somewhere between a 25% and 32% slump in GDP is being forecasted, every CEO needs his/her team, back at work!

Fig 8 Visibility and Data Sources you need to provide and monitor a safe workplace

A word to the wise, slideware, be very wary of the snake oil sales folk who are selling something we are still building!

Make sure the Integrations required are delivered!

Below are the folk at Condeco, Vpod and Proxyclick who demonstrated the integrations you need back in february at ISE 2020!

Not slideware it exists!

Fig 9 Integrations that work Video - Click the picture!

To save repeating Previous blogs on how to deliver an excellent connected workplace that safe read the connected workplace short tips blogs, below:

Connected Workplace

For Microsoft customer be they CTO / CIO, here's how you enhance Microsoft 365 to deliver the safe workplace.


For Where to get it and what to measure advice read these short 3 minute tip blogs on emerging thinking.

Pandemic Workplace

For details on who to speak to at Microsoft, Condeco, Proxyclick, VPOD and Relogix we are happy to help.

Simon Hunt the Author

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