The post-Covid world isn’t simply about measures that focus on employee wellness. It’s also about efficiency, speed, and cost-effectiveness.
While the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, countries across the globe underwent lockdowns in order to prevent the spread of the disease which translated into restricted movement of their citizens and a work from home mandate. Overnight physical interaction & collaboration reduced to online meetings and calls over skype and Microsoft teams.
According to a report by JLL, 66% of employees in India immediately shifted to working from home after the outbreak of the pandemic. While 30% of Indian working population has said that the lockdown has given them a enhanced opportunity to balance their work and life, as much as 41% of them are missing the professional environment.
As things have begun to unlock now, it is worth mentioning that employees are as anxious about returning to offices as they are excited about it, the reason being the transition is swarming with social risk of outspreading the infection. And even though the companies have become more sensitive to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, the challenge to mold their workforces to mitigate the exposure remains.
However, it is established that in the absence of a vaccine, aspects of the workplaces will have to change if employees are to safely return to their desks. This could involve a combination of short-term fixes aimed at boosting employee confidence, reducing the number of staff in the office at one time and longer-term design upgrades and modifications that put hygiene at the heart of workplace planning.
While we all know that work from home is the only solution to keep the ball rolling in the current situation, it has its own set of challenges that ranges from poor Internet connectivity, Data Security and SEZ/STPI Bonding Obligations to inadequate Infrastructure and the occasional feeling of isolation. Work from home is here to stay, albeit not for the entire workforce but definitely for a part of it, the report says.
Workplace Design will be governed by the fact that people shape the spaces they occupy, with key focus on Human Experience, Innovations in technology, wellness and sustainability.
Workplace Design Changes – Post COVID
Design on the office space will shift over a period of time due to COVID-19 with a mixed response by the occupants of the space. Organisations must continue to support social distancing and maintain healthy work environments to safeguard their workforce.
Most Space Planners, Architects and product providers are proactively thinking ahead of time to bring in new concepts and technologies to provide a healthier and more sustainable workplace for the future. Occupiers have embraced the preliminary phase to accelerate the short term transition and have started partnering with organizations like JLL to plan a safer and informed re entry at the workplaces.
Return to work in the preliminary phase will not be what it used to be before the outbreak of the pandemic and for now social distancing and workplace wellness will prevail.
Technology post Covid-19
While design will facilitate the physical implementation of the changes to the new workplace, technology is the glue that will ensure your new workplace incorporates the necessary changes in the virtual environment to seamlessly offer your customers and all employees the necessary safety at work to where they expect to return confidently where they can do their job while staying healthy. Technology will become the blood vessels of the organisation, not only through the networks connecting efficiently and safely employees and company data, but also the wiring of your built environment to understand behavioural patterns beyond space utilisation.
We may see further developments in voice operated technology, to prevent your employees from touching surfaces in common areas. This will be applied to keyboards, touch screens, light switches, door handles, doors, conference phones, cupboards, elevator panels, lavatories and taps. Sensors and voice activation devices will become part of the landscape and part of the design considerations, says the JLL report.
The concept that will be seen emerging would be human centric design thinking, satellite offices, and hub and club models. The Re – Imagine experience would revolve around experience itself, feelings, boosting employee confidence, mobile technology, hot desking options and flex spaces. Many organisations have made bold statement on work from Home and it is here to stay. Technology will become the life line with more usage on Mobile based applications.
Prior to COVID-19, employee wellness was a buzz phrase upon which few employers took action. They saw it as extending a gym membership and nothing more. This pandemic has proven that employee wellness is about more than exercise. Technology changes and innovations at workplaces will become all the more employee-centric. Real hygiene will be a priority and clean buildings a benchmark.
The post-Covid world isn’t simply about measures that focus on employee wellness. It’s also about efficiency, speed, and cost-effectiveness. Organizations need to optimize the existing spaces by making meaningful moves. Ultimately, it’s the time spent optimizing space that will have the deepest impact. The future of the workplace is no longer molded around what has worked, but instead what will work moving forward.