Updated: Jul 28
There’s a number of questions surrounding the new normal workplace:
1. Being which approach do I take to making it safe?
2. Do I take a short term or medium/long term view, or both?
So this blog attempts to colour in the options and give you the pro’s and con’s.
Option1 - Short Term Technology or Tape led approach?
For a lot of facilities managers the quick fix is to adopt the ”tape approach”
Put up warning signs.
Use Hazard tape to close off communal areas.
Screens in receptions and between desks.
Whilst this is “easy to do” and just requires the purchase order sign off, it raises a number of questions?
Does it send the right safe workplace message to my employees?
Does it give visitors confidence we are a safe workplace?
What do I do at the end, throw all of it away?
What happens as guidelines change, add more new signs, more or less tape?
Once I've thrown it away where's my data that delivers clear evidence it was an effective solution?
How do we track and trace without technology, remember who sat where?
Will that convince employees the workplace is safe, let alone HR or Legal?
Quick to implement
Single decision maker
Minimal other stakeholders
No one will argue with the need to make the building safe?
Short term expensive measure
Huge, plastic and Perspex based wastage
Send the wrong message to the workforce, “this place is dangerous” stay away
Hasn’t really answered or addressed track and trace, whose been near who
Who polices the policies and updates them, doesn’t that drive more expense?
We get no long term gain
Our people and visitors wont feel the workplace is safe
Employees will not enjoy.
Humans react differently to signs, tape and screens ie its not a guaranteed process with guaranteed, repeatable outcomes.
Option 2 Short medium and Long term Technology Led approach
A Reception and visitor management system linked to Meeting Room and Desk technology delivers a totally different solution.
They can be all Pre-registered and receive a superb invite with numerous features.
Way finding to the office.
Express check-in QR code’s that provide touch-less check-in.
Instant host notification upon scanning the QR code, by SMS and email.
Rapid transition times through reception areas cutting the infection likelihood.
Decongesting reception areas, naturally safe distancing visitors and employees.
And as a bonus, enabling express security transition with the same QR code.
This is a brief description, but the benefits are huge:
Reduce staff contact and therefore increase reception staff safety.
Deliver fast return on investment through both staff economies and workplace productivity gains.
Enable visitor data capture and track and trace capability for the reception area.
Reduce contamination instances through very low reception transition times.
Touch-less QR code driven checking that reduces surface contact and contamination.
Wow 1st impression service for visitors.
However integrate visitor management to Meeting Room or Desk Booking and you start to unlock a whole world of connected workplace benefits.
These include intuitive workflows that enable the visitor or employee to enjoy a safer and upgraded workplace experience.
Significant cost reductions through automation and staff reduction.
Increase workplace safety - through less staff exposure to visitors.
Reduction in surface contact through scanning and voice activated processes.
Automated workflows that screen visitors with custom questionnaires.
Complete visitor data collection through registration, check-in making track and trace robust.
Fast return on investment in under 12 months.
As well as decongesting the reception area with fast transition times.
Open and Capel based cost models.
Has integrations to meeting room and desk booking to upgrade the service and make the processes linked and seamless.
For example visitors in leading room systems like Condeco can feed directly into the visitor management system removing data input burdens and making tracking of all visitors very easy.
Requires wider investment and stakeholder buy-in from IT, HR, Legal, C-Suite.
Some market leading solutions have an 8-week delivery cycle.
The Workplace and desk stations
The benefits of technology for managing the return to work, using desks stations, enabling effective distancing, managing availability, sanitising when a new user is booked are significant.
However, whilst new versions are feature light, the established players offer complete workplace safety, peace of mind and a workplace upgrade for employees.
The market leading solution, that’s been released for 15 years offers touch-less checkin.
Simply using either the Mobile device and web booking service make it clear visually the desk is sanitised and safely distanced.
The APP also enables a workplace upgrade like “find a colleague”, which cut the need to check, when key colleagues are in, that you need to catch up with.
The cleaning and sanitisation of desks is robust, with cleaning vendors being advised of which desk to clean, as each user finishes using the desk.
Cleaners have role defined access the APP and can certify the desk fit for use and clean and if they fail to do that all future bookings, are cancelled automatically.
There are many more features, like APP users certifying their own status, and track and trace reporting, in case users become infected.
What is clear though is the technology is robust at enforcing safety and providing a workplace upgrade.
You can self manage your floor plan yourself opening and closing desks with ease.
You can accomodate social distancing, by closing desks off to create the right desk separation.
You can link the desk booking system to cleaning vendors who have admin access to notify the system when desks are clean.
You can therefore manage occupancy based cleaning, cleaning only what you need to.
There's an ROI from reduced cleaning costs as a result.
When the user books they book via a web APP or Smartphone APP, notifying the system they will be in the office.
When the check-in to the desk its via a gps geolocation which knows from their device their approaching the office and have a booking.
Other users can use this notification to find a colleague to aid and co-ordinate collaboration without lots of admin.
We can manage different amounts of time per group of people allowed back to the office and the system manages that.
If there is a "contamination event" then we can close areas or desks instantly and the system cancels any bookings and notifies the user to rebook.
I can Track and trace every employee in the event we need to via simple reporting
The API allows me to integrate to visitor management systems to extend the service.
We can measure the space and make informed , data led decisions on future corporate real estate needs.
The APP has a self certification function so we can manage employee wellbeing.
The APP itself helps demonstrate to employees how the workplace is safe.
And it enables faster and better face to face collaboration.
You have to involve other people in the decision making.
Some of these people might see only a short term need not the collaboration and informed real estate planning benefits.
The system costs £1 a desk a week which you may have to justify, however, given the benefits on employee safety most HR and Legal staffers will not need a lot of convincing of the benefits.
Data Informed planning and decisions
For the author the key thing is that you will not have to convince many people that the need for a workplace, in a city, with a commute has diminished.
So when your CFO and Corporate Real estate guys start planning future space requirements they are going to be mighty pleased they have some data to make informed decisions.
This is a game changed for those with a short term covid-19 related mindset that they only have a short term problem to fix.
Data to Inform the Connected workplace
A number of the newer vendors will not be mature enough to have an APi for the desk booking service, that enables you to extend booking to a reception management system or third party mobile APP. They also lack anything but a Covid 19 answer lacking a workplace upgrade, and data insight tools to inform Corporate Real Estate decisions.
So be careful, as linking systems does deliver the truly connected workplace and intuitive workplace, that a lot of millennials don't demand, they just expect it.
1. Avoid cheap "me too" imitations or Tape/screen based short fix, high waste options.
2. Make sure you deliver a workplace experience upgrade but secure the full Return on Investment.
3. Choose a technology based option, that fixes today but delivers the data you need to inform key decisions about how you manage your post Covid Real Estate.
4. Look for solutions that connect to each other and delivery workplace experience upgrades and intuitive processes that millennials and Technology and People Sensitive Organisations expect.