Has the workplace changed forever?
The impact of the spread of COVID-19 has been phenomenal, bringing with it fear, suffering and great heartache to those who have lost loved ones. There have also been radical side-effects that most (certainly I) would not necessarily have considered. Day-to-day these changes have seemed impossible, but in these extreme circumstances they have happen almost overnight.
The environmental impact
What have we seen change during this time?
- air (and all other) travel has been drastically reduced. Environmentalists have been pressing for this for years, fighting against those who have suggested the type of change requested is impossible in an evolving world. Well, the reductions have happened, and they have exceeded all expectation, unfortunately this beneficial side effect is unlikely to last forever, but it may make people think.
– normally rational people being reduced to bulk buying - or even stealing - hand sanitizer and toilet rolls. For those reading this smugly with a cupboard full of Andrex, take a moment to consider handing some over to the vulnerable in your area.
– the one I want to focus on.
In my experience working with organisations who have been trying to more efficiently and cost effectively manage their space and workforce, there have always been three major factors stopping wider adoption of home working: fear of change, cost and trust. COVID-19 has forced many organisations to face up to these fears and create an effective remote working environment, with the only other options being to endanger staff or halt operations.
Most organisations where these challenges have applied, have stepped up. They have invested rapidly in equipment and infrastructure to allow employees to work remotely. There has been no choice but to trust, and I think employers have been pleasantly surprised. I know we are in the early stages; it is still novel and human spirit is driving everybody to deliver the best they can for their businesses in the circumstances we find ourselves in. Workloads across the board may also be down – apart from in technology infrastructure, IT and healthcare (thanks for keeping us connected and alive) – but I think it has showcased what can be done and will get organisations thinking.
Post COVID-19 organisations must consider:
- Are employees gone for good, never to return, squirrelled away in home-offices?
- Is all that office space we pay so much for actually required?
- Should we adopt smarter working practices?
- Does the UK/Worldwide technology infrastructure allow for this method of working?
- What do we lose with remote working?
- Do we need to travel so much?
With the three limiting factors removed, I believe organisations will be able to respond to these space management questions in a different way to when they have considered them previously. I believe significant impacts will be seen:
- Smart working practices have been creeping in to organisations in certain sectors but will now be accelerated hugely across all sectors.
- Office space requirements will reduce, or usage will be changed to allow for better collaboration, employee engagement and office experience.
- Maintaining and improving a remote working infrastructure may require some ongoing investment, but the upfront cost will have been incurred, so these will be retained and improved.
- Having been tested and largely passed, I believe the UK/Worldwide technology infrastructure may begin to take more of the strain off the transport infrastructure.
- There will always be a place for company offices, for a wide range of reasons; security, brainstorming, meetings of a certain nature, training, control, community, etc.
Space management could change forever after this is all over. But make the right decisions with space management software to help you make informed decisions.
But in the meantime, I wish everybody, their families and their colleagues the best during these testing times.