How can we re-shape the office?
Remark Group’s Technical Director, Joshua Farrell, reflects on a year since the work from home guidance was introduced, and discusses how businesses can adapt their workspaces for reopening.
As I reflect back over the past 12 months, it’s clear that a lot has changed for businesses between now and last year, when the national work from home guidance and lockdown restrictions were first introduced.
As we have seen, factories, offices, and healthcare facilities were faced with quickly implementing the right technology, adjusting with mass uses of soft-codec based platforms (like Microsoft Teams, Webex, and Zoom) to a remote, flexible-working business model.
The pandemic has prompted a shift for users to interact with technology, even those who have – perhaps admittedly – previously been strangers to utilising software for collaboration. Almost overnight, users learned how to use communication technologies, not just for their working lives, but also in ‘virtual social lives’, too.
Technology has undoubtedly been fundamental to the way we work
Investment in the right technology, having a flexible working culture, and the focus on employee wellbeing and mental health has enabled companies to operate, stay connected, and be productive in a remote world.
In some cases, businesses were challenged with supporting thousands of employees to a new way of working: providing them with the right technologies for home office set ups, and then adjusting again to implementing hybrid technology solutions during the easing of restrictions, when teams were spilt between teams working from home and on company premises.
During a period of such change and transformation, ongoing research and development has been fundamental to staying at the forefront of business technology.
The return to the workplace is happening much more gradually: businesses have the opportunity to plan, develop and implement the best solutions to shape a workplace that people want to return to.
But, how can we move forward?
Companies are now reviewing their facilities to adapt to the next evolution of the workspace, whether that’s:
- The office
- The factory floor
- Expanding healthcare facilitates for expansion, or introducing wellbeing zones for staff mental health.
Post-vaccine, we are hearing of more companies adopting to hybrid-working models – finding the right balance between working from home and working from the office. This hybrid model will of course vary from business to business, and their preferences. Some, for example, may use a 50/50 split between working from the office and from home.
To achieve this, creating a dynamic workplace that is compliant to health and safety guidance will ensure that teamwork remains productive.
Here are some factors to consider:
Manage Occupancy Levels
Occupancy control now goes beyond who’s coming in and out of your building. Using health and safety digital signage will assist with all aspects of the reopening of the workspace. This includes:
- Front of house systems with digital screens that link to your businesses’ cleaning schedule (to show when areas were last cleaned and which rooms are hygienic to use)
- Using technology that only allows entry inside buildings for people with a healthy temperature, like contactless fever detection systems linked to your access control
- Displaying occupancy levels in the canteen or busy areas, with ‘stop and go’ traffic control
- You may also be required to move floor boxes, infrastructure, and adapt your premises to accommodate changes in your occupancy levels
Technology can sustain a healthy working environment by integrating with occupancy control systems throughout your premises.
Make Wellbeing a Business Priority
Workplace wellbeing has always been of importance to us and our customers. As companies plan their return to the workplace (whether that’s partial, or full-term), it’s likely that more companies will make wellbeing a business priority.
- Creating wellbeing zones using Soundscapes inspired by natural landscapes i.e. woodlands, the beach
- Covid-conscious designs with reassuring digital health and safety updates displayed on screens throughout your premises
- Creating the right acoustic environment to work in comfortably (not too loud, and also not too silent)
- Implementing the right lighting to support productivity, and our human body clocks, to assist with overall wellbeing and mental health
What is clear that there are many ways we can create healthy workspaces that put wellbeing, teamwork, health and safety at the forefront.
Video Conferencing Technology
User-friendly video conferencing technology will allow teams to balance working between the home and the workplace, as well as connect to wider audiences. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will require a brand-new system – we can reuse, or add on to your existing video conferencing equipment for Boardrooms or Huddle Areas, to make your conferencing workspace fit for purpose, and adapt to your new way of working.
Where do we go from here?
Technology has already helped companies to adapt. It’s clear that technology will play a key role in supporting the return to workspaces, regardless of whether that’s for offices, healthcare facilities, and the factory floor.
With COVID-19 still being an issue, the need to adapt hasn’t changed and the introduction of video conferencing solutions and digital signage can help keep employees safe and productive whether they are working remotely or from the office.
Remark Group can provide workplace consolidations, tailored to your unique business requirements, to shape your workspace for your new business needs.