The lockdown took a significant toll on businesses. Demand fell, and the daily functioning of countless firms was disrupted. That’s why unlocks, in various stages across the country, are a reason for cheer. As more parts of the country begin to open, economic activity will pick up, and things may even get back to normal. However, the new normal will not be like any that came before. Businesses will need to adapt to this new normal in which everyone practices social distancing, everyone, including employees, wears masks all the time, and people are particular about hygiene.
In this new environment, businesses will need to manage their office space differently because employees will behave unlike how they behaved before. A few things that lie just over the horizon are as follow.
The 90% Economy
Despite news of a mild resurgence in COVID-19 cases in China, the country has emerged from the pandemic in good shape. However, after-effects of the epidemic remain. The Chinese economy hasn’t reached the same level of activity it had before the pandemic. Demand hasn’t picked up to reach where it had been before the outbreak. For this reason, many economists have coined a new term, the 90% economy. It’s expected that every economy, post unlocks, will be a 90% economy. Demand will never be as high as before, and more people will work from home.
What’s true for China will be valid for India as well. The 90% economy will become a reality for the country. As a result, Indian businesses will have to find more thoughtful ways to utilise office space. For many Indian companies, it will make little sense to occupy the offices they had pre-COVID-19 when only a fraction of their employees work in such premises. In the coming months and years, it will make great sense for many businesses to close their existing offices and move employees to smart offices.
A smart office has everything a business needs, including workstations, conference rooms, IT infrastructure, recreation rooms, and more. In the post-COVID-19 era, every significant business will need to move some if not all their employees to smart offices. There are other reasons for this migration as well.
Offices, why where they even necessary?
Over the past few months, many leading thinkers have been asking why offices were even necessary. The past four months have proven than employees in white-collar jobs can work just as efficiently from home as they can from an office. In all likelihood, the lessons of the past few months will remain etched in memory. Businesses will realise they don’t need to pay sky-high rent for office space when their employees can work just as efficiently from home.
Businesses across the country will abandon their commercial real estate in favour of more agile and less expensive smart offices. In such intelligent offices, every employee who must come to an office will come, others will work from their homes. In addition to working alongside their colleagues, professionals in smart offices will have employees from other companies for company. In as little time as a decade, many businesses may wonder why they had offices at all when a significant number of their employees could work just as effectively from home.
In addition to being productive places, smart offices will be very safe as well.
Sanitised and productive offices
The COVID-19 pandemic is making the headlines every day. There is news of new cases daily, and some experts have said that this is only the tip of the iceberg. According to them, there are millions of people infected by COVID-19, but they haven’t been tested. In the early days of the pandemic, many who didn’t take the threat seriously paid with their lives. The epidemic is genuine and will be with society for a long time.
In such an environment, smart offices are the ideal places for companies to house their employees. Businesses who work from smart offices can rest assured that their workers are working in a hygienic environment in which the chance of becoming infected by COVID-19 is minimal. Smart offices employ a battalion of dedicated workers whose sole duty is the maintenance of the office. These workers ensure every counter, table, workstation, cabin, and conference room is immaculately clean. As a result, the chances of becoming infected by COVID-19 are nil.
Other advantages of smart offices
Smart offices have other advantages. They already have COVID-compliant premises. This means those who work in these offices are safer from the virus than they would be in traditional offices. In addition to being COVID compliant, smart offices offer managed services which add to their versatility and dynamism. Thirdly, they provide intelligent space management which means businesses that lease space in smart offices share costs. This makes such leases affordable. Fourthly, in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, smart offices are strategically located. Because of their location, businesses that lease an office in smart offices find they have an office at a prime location. In a nutshell, workers in smart offices are healthy, happy, and productive. Businesses that lease space in such offices are more profitable.
The country is in various stages of unlocking. During this time, many companies are reconsidering their relationships with traditional offices. Their employees worked from home over the past few months, and productivity wasn’t hampered. The lockdown proved that businesses could function when most of their employees work from home. However, some employees will need to come to the office. In the months and years ahead, for the reasons mentioned above, it makes excellent sense for companies to house these workers in smart offices.
(By Kushal Bhargava, Co-founder, MyBranch)