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The new normal - How COVID-19 will impact the office culture

Jun 30, 2020 4:54:38 PM / by Fellowes

the new normalLockdowns have forced companies to close their offices and enable their employees to work from home where, and as much as possible.

We all have a role to play in preventing the infection from spreading when workplaces reopen. Without an available vaccine or effective treatment, well-organised risk management is key to creating ‘COVID-safe’ work environments. One thing is clear: the office after coronavirus will look very different in many ways and managers need to prepare for ‘the new normal’.

Homeworking - Here to stay?

How the ‘return to the workplace’ looks will be determined by the nature of your business. Most organisations and their employees will need to balance working from the corporate office and from home. A recent survey of CFO’s by Gartner showed that 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote working after COVID-19. A number of elements will be crucial to the success of homeworking.

First of all, the right technology is key. This not only covers the right tools to collaborate effectively, such as Zoom, Trello and so on but also the right IT infrastructure. Without this, you can soon run into problems.

Secondly, a set of clear guidelines are needed to help employees deal with this new way of working. Employees will benefit from training covering how to work safely and productively from home. Finally, keep your employees motivated and excited. You should pay attention to the impact a lack of physical contact has on people. You can stimulate cooperation between colleagues by virtual coffee breaks or 15-minute morning catch-up meetings.

With the right mindset, preparation and strategy, you can make the transition from office to home as seamless as possible and ensure that employees remain productive and engaged, no matter where they are.

New office spaces

Offices will still exist. However, they may look and function differently. Some organisations may adopt a strategy with a larger number of smaller offices in different locations around the world, so not to rely on one location for all critical business. Big trading floors or other open floor plans may be replaced in some cases by cubicles or partitioned offices so that your employees can keep their distance from each other during seasonal disease waves.

Increased focus on healthy and safe workplaces

Companies nowadays put more emphasis on the health of their employees to ensure long term productivity. As an employer, you need to make sure that your employees can work in a safe and healthy way when they start returning to the office.

According to a recent report published by CBRE, this means an increased focus on hygiene, both on surfaces and personal hygiene, especially in a flexible working environment. This means that cleaning services are upscaled and everyone has access to items like hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes. The report also mentions that in the long-term, we will see a preference for buildings with a healthy indoor climate and good ventilation, because fresh air reduces the spread of airborne germs. Currently, buildings are required to occupy a minimum of 20% fresh air, but there are buildings that have already chosen to increase that to 30%. Revising the minimum requirement can be a next step to creating a healthy environment.    

Finally, to support safe and healthy working for your employees, make sure that they have the right equipment to do so. Equipment that is antibacterial and safe and has Microban® protection, will help to ensure a clean office. At the same time, cardboard solutions are proven to be safe storage where some viruses can only survive for a maximum of 24 hours. Finally, a healthy workplace means supporting good posture and remaining active. A sit-stand desk at the office has almost become a necessity, but don’t forget about your employees’ home office.


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Sources:

Gartner CFO survey: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-04-03-gartner-cfo-surey-reveals-74-percent-of-organizations-to-shift-some-employees-to-remote-work-permanently2

CBRE the office reset: https://www.cbre.nl/en/services/tenants-and-occupiers/workplace-strategies/post-covid-19

World Economic Forum office design: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid19-coronavirus-change-office-work-homeworking-remote-design/

Posturite planning to return to work: https://www.posturite.co.uk/webinars/2020-webinars/planning-to-return-to-work-factors-to-be-considered

Guardian shift towards homeworking: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/mar/13/covid-19-could-cause-permanent-shift-towards-home-working

Surface stability of Cov-2: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Topics: Product, Return to the Workplace

Fellowes

Written by Fellowes