15 Questions every facility manager needs to ask as she builds a COVID-ready workplace

According to EY’s Global Risk Survey 2020, 79% of board members surveyed, state that their organizations are not ready to deal with a crisis event.

As of March 30th, 2020, a Gartner, Inc. survey of 317 CFOs and finance leaders revealed that 74% of these leaders plan to transition at least 5% of previously on-site staff to permanently remote positions, post COVID-19.

As of May 2020, Twitter told staff that they can work from home “forever” if they wish as the company looks towards the future after the coronavirus pandemic. Google and Facebook also announced that their staff can work from home until the end of 2020. On the other hand, Goldman COO said, ‘Having everyone working from home has the potential to damage Goldman’s culture’.

COVID-19 has forced millions of workers around the world to work from home, tending to kids, cleaning and cooking as they answer emails, lead strategy discussions and make pitch calls, coaxing organizations, globally to question fundamental concepts of work, life and play. Workplace enablers ranging from site managers, administrative officers, security and IT professionals, are overwhelmed as lost employees and leaders look to them for clarity. We know this task can be tricky and you are probably wondering where to begin or whether you’re even asking the right questions. This is why we have taken the liberty of identifying the key questions these workplace enablers need to answer as they singlehandedly pursue the herculean task of getting their workplace COVID-ready and their workforce back to work, safely.

The Workplace

  1. What will the ‘The Quintessential Office’ look like? What role will it play? Whom will it exist for? Who will come back to work? How will it operate? Where will it be?
  2. As offices begin to reopen, teams look to maintain or regain productivity and engagement levels. The challenge here is creating a workplace that employees want to come to, a workplace that can offer them more than working from home can. Should the workplace endeavour to mimic or replace a home or should it bring targeted value to employees which they cannot find at home?
  3. How much office space will one need post-pandemic? Should facility managers be re-assessing workspace architecture and design? How can one rethink the use of high footfall common areas such as canteens, choke points and other break-out areas?
  4. What are the legal compliances and nation-wide public health requirements workplace enablers should consider as they bring their workforce back to a COVID-ready workplace? Is there a checklist, facility managers can follow to get their workplace, COVID-19 ready?

The Workforce

  1. How should facility managers design their workforce portfolio across 100% at WFH, 100% at the office and a hybrid approach? Who comes back to work? Should this decision be purely based on function and seniority, or are there hidden factors to consider?
  2. According to C&W’s Future of the Workplace survey 2020, the millennial workforce has been hit the hardest by WFH in terms of morale and efficiency. Baby boomers and Gen Xers have benefited, raising their well-being and productivity. Considering that Millenials are the largest proportion of the workforce and are the toughest to retain, should inter-generational impact play a role in the decision of whom to bring back to work?
  3. Employees are worried and panic-stricken as they navigate through COVID-19. How can workplace enablers ease the transition as employees move from a 100% virtual workplace to a part virtual, part physical one?
  4. How do employees and visitors feel at the workplace? How can one strike a balance between employee safety and experience? Can organizations capitalize on the first touchpoint and welcome experiences such as front desk check-ins, lift lobbies, entry and access points to assure and nudge employee and visitor behaviour?

The Technology

  1. At the workplace of the future, we are transitioning from an era of ‘shared devices and frictionless experiences’ to one of ‘personal handhelds and touchless solutions’. Which technologies will rule the COVID-ready workplace?
  2. An employee touches an average of 40 surfaces per day, increasing the risk of infection as the coronavirus can stay infected on surfaces up to 9 days. which technologies can be leveraged to create a 100% touchless employee and visitor experience?
  3. The world is witnessing a host of radical innovations across to enable organizations to get back to work. But innovation comes with a price. What are the financial ramifications of getting the workforce back to the office? Which processes should be prioritized over others?
  4. Remote work widens an organization’s cyber-attack surface with an increased number of remote computers and 24×7 access to official email on personal handhelds. How should organizations go about building heightened cybersecurity layers without jeopardizing WFH flexibility and productivity?

The Future

  1. While workplace enablers are busy implementing urgent interventions such as sensor-based sanitization and beacon-based distancing alerts, what will happen post-pandemic? How should they strike a balance between the short-term impact and long-term relevance?
  2. As employees settle back into the workplace, the use of smart data on office utilisation will be crucial in monitoring changes to employee behaviour. Capturing data that outlines the day-to-day use of spaces and facilities will help businesses identify the needs of employees, map new trends and re-configure their office space according to their unique needs. Which technologies can enable facility managers to consistently track how their workforce engages with their workplaces?
  3. Considering that global pandemics could well be part of our new reality, should organizations be investing in pandemic-response units? If yes, what aspects should this business unit focus on and what kind of professionals should it constitute?

We believe that answering the above checklist of questions should give you a solid starting point to building your post-pandemic foundation. As a workplace enabler to fortune 500 enterprises worldwide, we have taken upon ourselves to enable the enabler aka you through our upcoming expert roundtable titled ‘Reimagining the workplace of the future in the post-pandemic era’. With this interaction, we aim to listen to what CXO’s, digital transformation experts and workplace technologists have to say, share best practices and ideate with workplace enablers to configure innovative solutions as we all navigate COVID-19, together. Join the conversation & ……
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