Workplace Trends

Back to work: The Post-Pandemic Offices

The need for property management software is now.

It’s going to be March  2021 in a little over 90 days. Scores of employees have been working from home since March 2020. At one end of the spectrum, countries are heading towards another lockdown and on the other, countries like India are headed towards an unlock. Employees and employers are returning to offices after several months of working from home.

The demand and requirement for real estate management systems and property management systems is increasing drastically as facility managers aim to ensure safer working conditions without compromising on productivity. 

The to-do list for facility managers is increasing constantly as offices open with a deep emphasis on reopening and reimagining the workplace. Numerous organisations are publishing guidelines and manuals to make the new workplace a safe workplace. 
Believing in unified solutions and the fact that the future is now, Veris provided you with one document with guidelines to prepare the workplace and the workforce.

A COVID Ready workplace can be attained by implementing the right mix of manual interventions and office and building management system software. The Pandemic Manual from the IFMA Foundation offers facility management professionals guidance on pandemic planning, response, and recovery.

Preparing the Workplace:-

A comprehensive guide for real estate tenants and landlords on reopening workplaces is required to ensure a smooth back to work transition . This guide assists in preparing the building by setting up cleaning plans, pre-return inspections, HVAC and Mechanicals checks. The concept includes major as well as minor steps required to make the workplace safe.

Starting with  a 6 Feet Quick Scan, a concise but thorough analysis of the current working environment assists in recognising opportunities for improvement in the field of virus safety. Building managers should then focus on 6 Feet Routing. A visually displayed and unique routing for each office, making traffic flows completely safe ensures that the rules and agreements are being followed.  Following this up by the basic 6 Feet Rule, or, a set of simple and clear workable agreements and rules of conduct that put the safety of everyone first and reconfigures workstations so that employees do not face each other contributes towards the initial steps of opening the workplace. 

Protocols need to be set for safety and health checks, building reception, shipping and receiving, elevators, and other visitor and staff contact areas. 

Starting from the first point of entry by eliminating reception seating areas and requesting visitors to take prior appointments distributed and reduces the total footfall. Reviewing floor plans and removing or reconfiguring seats, furniture and workstations to preserve recommended physical distancing and replacing high contact frequency amenities, such as water coolers, coffee makers, with alternatives, further reduces the common touch points for the workers. More emphasis should be given to shared office spaces. High emphasis should be given to the government mandates for re-opening and facility managers and tenants should prepare protocols for re-closing if required.

Reduce Touchpoints and Increase Cleaning: open doors, clean desk policy, food plan, cleaning common areas.

Office spaces should be reconfigured by repurposing any underutilized spaces and limiting any desk sharing in the near term in facilities. These reconfigurations should be carried out by redrawing floor plans and reconfigure furniture and focusing on more touchless technologies for restrooms and trash receptacles.

In the day and age of automation, leveraging technology is of utmost help. This includes carrying out an initial assessment of existing building technology that could help in providing and monitoring access and occupancy. Further improvements can be made by considering new products in areas such as support for remote work, health screening, robotics, or touchless technology.

This can be done more accurately by enhancing data collection by tracking space utilization and identifying potential risks for contamination with digital tools.

Prepare the Workforce: Mitigating anxiety, policies for deciding who returns, employee communications.

The most important asset, the workforce would be entering a new office. A post pandemic office with reduced common touch points, more distance between employees and a workplace that provides both, mental and physical satisfaction and safety. Achieving this is crucial as an unsatisfied workforce can affect productivity and culture in the long run. 

Identifying who will return to the office in the near-term and offering employees extended remote work due to underlying personal factors, transit challenges and/or school closures helps maintain the number of people inside the premises to a minimum. Further, setting up 6 Feet Workstation helps the employees adapt to a fully equipped workplace and make the employees feel safe. 

Visual cues such as  trained employees, who advise on and operationally ensure an optimally functioning and certificates stating that measures have been taken to implement a virus-safe working environment also increases productivity. 

Creating shifts based on social distancing in the workplace by keeping the number of shifts dependent on company headcounts and space capacity also encourages  new behaviors and communicates new protocols around cleanliness and gathering in common areas, improving return-to-work timing and scenarios.

Setting clear guidelines and limiting on-site meetings and using videoconferencing and other virtual meeting technologies helps reduce in-person contact.Limiting the number of attendees and maintaining social distancing during in person meetings reduces the risk of spread.

Create a Social Distancing Plan: decreasing density, schedule management, office traffic patterns. 

Assigning desks and making them reservable ahead of time to manage employee volume in the office helps implement spatial distancing strategies

Communicate for Confidence: recognize the fear in returning, communicate transparently, listen and survey regularly.

The Pandemic Recovery section of the IFMA Foundation shares this advice: “During the recovery phase, organisations will begin to relax the policies and procedures implemented during the Planning/Preparation and Response Phases. The business practices will eventually return to normal. A Pandemic Team should develop and implement a Recovery Plan to return the company to Pre-COVID working operations. However, in some cases, a new or revised policy or process may become incorporated into normal company practices”.

Veris One

Facility and building managers have a responsibility to select and implement building maintenance systems or real estate management systems and software that tick all the above-mentioned boxes. One property management app may provide a solution for one particular requirement, another properties management system would provide another solution. 

Veris One is one powerful platform with stakeholder specific analytics dashboards & mobile apps that can natively integrate with any system to easily create end-to-end digital workflows. Veris Combat ensures WHO-Recommended Contact Tracing

Features such as Mask Compliance, Real-time health status, and Occupant density display, make the workplaces and retail outlets and restaurants safer for all those stepping in. 

Facial Recognition based attendance systems check the staff’s body temperature and the presence of a mask, eradicating any extra touchpoints. The Veris Combat creates a smart building IoT by providing an all in one office building automation system. 

Veris systems can integrate with your existing HRMS, Access Controls, Active Directory to provide a single app seamless solution to your organization and your tenants.

Visit us at www.getveris.com to learn more about making your workplace a smart and safe place. 

This document was possible with inputs from JLL, Cushman & Wakefield, IFMA Foundation, and American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) 

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