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Guides
March 27, 2021

What are organisations doing to address the top workplace challenges of 2021?

In 2020, businesses were pushed to extremes to remain operational. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, most have had to revamp workflow and reconfigure activities to support not only their value chain, but customer-facing operations too.

 

Despite the setbacks of the past year, it seems that 2021 will serve as a bridge to recovery. Companies are firming up to resume normal operations as vaccines roll out - bolstered, of course, by protective measures!

 

So how can we better address workplace concerns and foster a safe environment for employees to return to? 

 

The answer lies in creating a sanitary and positive environment! Workers should be able to move about seamlessly from zone to zone, assured of the health and safety precautions put in place. 

 

But where to begin! We take a look at organizations who’ve done it right to come up with our list of things to meet the demands of 2021 and beyond. 

Source: Labcorp

 

1. Prepare Your Facilities

 

The first thing all organizations should do is to ensure their spaces are sanitized and compliant with health and safety guidelines. One such company who did this extremely well was WeWork. Being one of the first large companies to oversee most of their employees return to the office after the pandemic started, their success came from developing a well-thought out strategy that balanced safety, logistics and employee sentiment.

 

They acquired and distributed various items for employees such as personal protective equipment, alcohol dispensers and cell phone sanitizers, and introduced new protocol including temperature screenings, compulsory face mask wearing and a clean desk policy to ensure all employees felt safe to come back to the office.

Office air quality
Source: Infinigeek

2. Check Your Air Quality

 

How clean is the air in your work environment? Has your office implemented technologies to purify the air and remove contaminants? Are there office windows that can be opened to allow fresh air in? 

 

All of these questions may have once been left on the wayside, but today should stand front and centre in your office management strategy. 

 

To tackle these concerns, we must keep in mind certain indoor air quality (IAQ) factors, such as office humidity. Offices are advised to maintain a general 40% to 70% humidity, 40% to 45% would be ideal. Any higher may raise your body’s internal temperature, and any lower dries out your mucous membranes,both of which compromise the human body’s natural viral defense.

 

Another consideration to make is how much fresh air you draw into the building. In an interview with BBC, Raefer Wallis, founder of IAQ monitoring and consulting company, Reset, explains that most HVAC systems are configured to replace a building’s total fresh air every half hour. He advises that this should be increased to every 10 to 15 minutes in post COVID times. 

 

Some additional existing IAQ solutions include: 

  • Replacing your rooftop’s HVAC unit. If your budget allows, we recommend that you accommodate for larger and deeper unit filters by investing in a larger unit. A deeper unit will have more tracks to slide in air filters, which ensure a thorough filtration process 
  • Investing in quality filters. Understandably, not all of us can afford to update our existing airflow equipment, which is why you may consider some more cost-effective options. If possible look into MERV A rated filters, which do not filter using electrostatic charge and remain efficient throughout their service life. 

 

These changes aren’t just being made in commercial spaces, but in schools too. In the U.S., local school districts are taking preventative action by upgrading their HVAC systems.

 

At first glance, these investments may seem costly. But, if you think about it, they are more than necessary when it comes to meeting the demands of an increasingly sanitation-conscious society and helping employees feel secure reentering the work environment. 

Office wework
Source: WeWork

 

3.    Establish Office Guidelines

 

We’re all fairly experienced when it comes to social distancing now, but how does that work in an office setting? Many organizations such as Microsoft have adopted a ‘hybrid’ workplace model that sets up a schedule dividing their workforce into two and allowing them to come in on alternating days of the week whilst supporting those who work remotely.

 

Both companies and property managers should also establish clear, easy-to-understand social distancing guidelines within the office to ensure employees can remain safely socially distanced. WeWork noted one way they achieved this was by decreasing the capacity of common areas such as meeting rooms and lifts, and made their hallways and staircases one-way to eliminate any unnecessary bottlenecks.

 

Contactless technology smart office
Source: Biometric Update

4.    Leverage In-Office Digital Tools

 

Increased digitisation has often been touted as an all-encompassing solution to overcoming today’s work barriers, and it is easy to see why. The digital age has inspired a renaissance in the world of work: gone are the days of paper-based administration or being passed over for a job just because you’re not in the right geographical location.

 

In today’s world, the majority of companies already understand that leveraging digital assets is key to operational continuity and future planning. In fact, a study by McKinsey found that there will be a three to four year acceleration for companies adopting digital tools amid COVID times. 

 

But, there’s one company we’d like to point out in particular and applaud for their quick thinking and innovative use of technology. Earlier this year, K11 MUSEA in Hong Kong had to close after multiple COVID cases broke out at their mall. After closing the entire mall and testing all of their employees, K11 deployed 11 autonomous robots equipped with up to 10 liters of sterilising solution that roam around disinfecting the space. The robots ended up being featured on local news outlets and drew in crowds who were reassured by the safety measures taken and wanted to see the adorable robots waltzing across the atrium!

 

When it comes to your offices, you can consider: 

  • Contactless technology. Once deemed an office luxury, the pandemic has turned these solutions into a work essential, allowing users to swipe in and out of office buildings with minimal risk of spreading germs through physical touchpoints. A recent survey conducted by Capgemini Research Institute found that 62 per cent of consumers are prepared to increase their contactless tech usage after the pandemic. Though costly, it appears that such investments are ones that inspire a more cohesive user experience in a post-COVID future.
  • Automated space management software. Working safely has been made possible with technology such as POC systems, which uses real-time occupancy tracking to show how often and when spaces are in use. Sensors can be attached to hot desks and doorways to observe daily usage, and monitor your physical equipment. 

 

So, what are you waiting for! Take that leap, and bridge the gap between your business’s current and optimal technological usage!

Office work pod
Source: Steelcase

 

5.    Optimize Your Space

 

More often than not, we see workers in their individual cubicles spread across the office. But as hybrid and remote work rise in popularity, certain office zones will become under-utilised. In lieu of cubicles, businesses should configure their spatial use to maximise purpose. This means creating key areas for individual work, and others that function as collaborative zones.

 

It is for this reason that we created our work pod solution, QUBIC,as a cost-effective solution to reconfiguring your space. The work pod offers a calm, modular space that can be used for team meetings, as well as for individuals in pursuit of a private space. 

 

It is also equipped with a web app which supports data analytics that track bookings, working efficiency and logs this user data in real-time to further reduce close interactions and promotes better space utilization.

 

Want to learn more? Contact our team for details!

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