Return of employees to offices with the promise of safe workplaces will potentially have a multiplier effect on the economy.
As the government, policymakers, businesses, and workers collaborate to find the best and most sustainable response to the Covid-19 crisis, a reimagination of the workplace in this New Normal is taking place. The Future of Work, if we could call it, is now fully underway.
The key of course for both employers and employees will be health, wellbeing, and safety. Businesses need to provide workplace solutions that address these needs and take care of hygienic environment, bring in collaboration and engagement, help improve productivity – even in a hybrid workplace model and in situations of consolidation of Real Estate where needs of employees and employers are different. The solutions should be appealing to both sides and create a win-win for employees and employers while addressing the need of flexibility.
There is no doubt anymore that businesses and employers will need to create and sustain a hyper-productive workplace to spur a heightened sense of purpose, ownership, collaboration and innovation to stay ahead in these exceptionally challenging times.
Employees returning to work will want ‘trusted’ spaces – where the organization’s effort to ensure hygiene and well-being is most visible. We must recognize that we have a new generation of workers that has always expected more from their employer since pre-pandemic times and accordingly adapt our strategies to keep them engaged and productive.
It is time we paid serious attention to the idea of workplace experiences. Employee engagement is a key factor for organizations to strengthen its corporate brand as per a study by Global Alliance. These are the most crucial factors for companies to be able to attract and retain talent.
As one of the world’s leading workplace solutions organizations we have always placed great attention to rethinking physical spaces for a new era, a philosophy that works on the premise that successful businesses must have a workplace strategy that lays the focus on integrating office occupancy, employee behavior, and deep design thinking and planning with the best in mobility and connectivity technologies.
In an Indian context, we are encouraged by the work the Government of India is doing, especially while laying the focus on digital technologies to set the tone for a digital-first workplace of the future. I believe this aligns well with the six “Unlock Guidelines” issued by the government so far, where the focus on technology is undeniable.
As part of Unlock 5 in September last year, the Government of India came out with “Safe Workplace Guidelines for Industry and Establishment” to combat Covid-19 and ensure safety measures at the workplace. It demonstrated how serious the government was to work with employers and workers to identify risk levels of Covid- 19 at individual workplaces, business premises, and to determine appropriate control measures. Return of employees to offices with the promise of safe workplaces will potentially have a multiplier effect on the economy as the ripple effects generate a positive impact on businesses that interact with employee on the way to his workplace and at the workplace.
It is no surprise then that new digital technology, real-time data, analytics, and insights will increasingly be used to make informed decisions about the workplace, especially in workspace management, task / occupancy-based cleaning, asset tracking, preventive maintenance, air quality checks, visitor management.
There is also a growing clamor to implement digital disruptors such as Internet of Things (IoT) based solutions and other smart solutions to address the dynamic needs of various organizations, not just for the Covid period, but encouragingly now also beyond as the focus on ‘Hygiene’ will be a permanent feature.
There will also be a rapid expansion in the demand for specific solutions like indoor air quality purification and surface purification using long-lasting (~60 days) germicidal coating (Germagic™ Thyme technology), UV-Cleaning, and ATP technology that can scientifically measure the outcome of cleaning, all key elements for developing a resilient future and a risk-free environment.
While all of this unravels in the months and years ahead, it will be important that businesses, employers, workers, industries, civil society partners, and governments all come together to set up trusted strategic partnerships, complemented by the right technologies and solutions, which I believe will allow us to adapt to the dynamic nature of the New Normal.
Finally, a word on social distancing, one of the first key public health responses to the coronavirus pandemic to inhibit the spread of COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. We believe it will perhaps become the biggest factor to spur the adoption of flexible working models and other hybrid workplace models as the world continues to explore the most optimal risk-mitigation workforce safety and well-being solutions.
(By Aksh Rohatgi, CEO & Country Manager, ISS Facility Services India)