The COVID-19 pandemic made landfall in every part of the globe, and even as we emerge from the pall of the coronavirus, we are adjusting to a world that may never be the same. Yet despite the gloomy climate, not all of the developments were negative.
The concept of working full-time from home, once unthinkable, has now become the norm. At the midway point to 2021, businesses have begun navigating the tricky question of when working from home is conducive to employee happiness and effectiveness, and when maintaining office space (and attendant protocols) is the better option for their specific circumstances.
Digital transformation along these lines has been taking place for years, but the COVID pandemic acted as an accelerant: advancing the playing field almost a decade as tech companies took aggressive steps to address the practical necessities created by the crisis. As a result, hybrid workplaces are becoming the new normal: combining more traditional office workspaces with remote working and work-from-home office options. It can be a tricky balance to maintain, and in many cases, there is no precedent for what companies need to do to adjust. COVID merely accelerated what was already a prevailing trend, with companies increasingly reliant on a combination of real-world work locations and remote connections to clients and partner companies elsewhere in the world.
That means more than just rethinking your space needs when it comes to employees. It means designing a workspace that can accommodate both immediate and remote employees who need access to the same data and information without compromising security and quality. Companies that can better manage successful employee collaboration will be able to work more efficiently: saving time and money.
Specific ways of doing this vary by company. Every organization is unique, after all, and the individual needs of each require some degree of fine-tuning to play to their strengths. However, a certain number of base strategies can aid a wide variety of companies in this transition. A brief discussion of some of the most important ones follows. It starts by rethinking the concepts of workspace and employee collaboration entirely
Future Office Solutions for Every Worker
Technology and evolving working policies have enabled a flexible practice that means we’re no longer tied to perceiving success from physical visibility, and need to support businesses with desk, remote, and distributed workers. Our unique bundling of hardware and software workplace solutions help enhance our collaboration and productivity no matter where or what your employee needs to succeed. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2021 whitepaper endorses our vision of the intelligent connected workplace by promoting the need for ‘Technology Democratization’, which focuses on making powerful tools available to employees without requiring special skills to use it, alongside the reality of ‘BYOE’ (bring your own environment) – meaning that associates have access to the same on-premise environment, wherever they are working.
Provide Hybrid Desk & Meeting Spaces
Every company used to have at least one central meeting room where employees could meet to collaborate] on various projects. In a hybrid work world, such concepts shouldn’t be abandoned. On the contrary, by providing hybridized desk spots and meeting spaces, you can achieve the same functionality while integrating the real-time and the remote.
The proper workplace technology is equipped to enable a hybrid workspace, find available meeting rooms and desks based on live occupancy data from any device, schedule from common workplace calendars such as Outlook and Google Calendar, check-in, assign seats with automatic social distancing, control the air quality and temperature, and optimize meeting room utilization.
After spending more than a year working remotely, plenty of leaders are struggling to find a balance between in-office and remote schedules. How do you can you develop hybrid flexible schedules and bring teams and neighborhoods together to increase collaboration both in-person and remotely. The right technology can automatically create work orders for desk and meeting room sanitization when employee check-out of a space ensures that desk and meeting hygiene and cleanliness protocols are met. It can also ensure the seamless connection of remote team members for meetings and help balance employees’ work-from-home days with their in-office days for maximum productivity and emotional health.
Enable Your Employees to Connect
Establishing flexible workplaces is one thing. Ensuring that your employees have the ability to use them without difficulty is something else. The easier and more hassle-free you can make the employee experience, the more readily your workforce will be engaged and adapt to the new technology. These systems can be utilized via a workplace experience app as well, allowing employees access via their phones. Combined, these features improve and encourage employee collaboration between remote and in-office workers.
Prioritize Safety to Make Employees Comfortable
COVID-19 has changed the workforce in many ways: allowing employees to work from home is a solution in some cases, but not every company can function in that dynamic, and indeed, some employees thrive when in a social space with their coworkers.
Hybrid working spaces should always prioritize safety not only for the sake of the employees but also to ensure the company continues to operate with minimal workflow disruptions. Intelligent workplace technology can help with that: providing instant updates to employees, touchless interfaces with QR codes on your mobile instead of issuing physical id cards to cut down on contact spreading, and login counters to ensure that social distancing and similar measures can be safely employed.
In light of that, it becomes incumbent on businesses to consolidate and integrate with existing building management systems including visitor management, access control, IoT devices, divisions and centers. When properly integrated, the results are truly transformative. Smarten Spaces was honored to be a part of YIT’s Workery+ Vallila building in Finland: winner of the Smartest Building in the World Award in 2021. That project achieved an integration of day-to-day employee use, safety and security, building environment, work hubs, and ease of collaboration. The same technology can be used to help your business. Indeed, it combines many of those applications into a single workplace app. That will not only ensure that every necessary safety protocol is met during travel times and employees can be logged and tracked, but that ease of use encourages employees to make compliance a habit.
Similarly, social distancing and limited employee numbers can be automatically enforced using AI apps and features that take the human factor out of the equation. Such applications can be used to help create desk social distancing, sanitation status and requests, and visitor check-ins to ensure that everyone entering and leaving the workplace is healthy and safe.
Smarten Spaces: The Future of Hybrid Workspace and Employee Collaboration
Hybrid workspaces provide numerous benefits to workers and employers alike, and as we continue to navigate the pandemic-induced changes, the new arrangements will become an accepted part of modern workplaces.
Smarten Spaces has become a leader in hybrid workspace technology developing AI-powered solutions. We are the first company in the world to deliver AI-based workforce rostering and recommendations with flexible hotdesking, and a workplace employee experience app.
Configuring a Hybrid Workplace takes time, expertise, and a knack for managing spaces. We have all three! We can lower space costs by effectively measuring your utilization while also ensuring that employees have a simple and intuitive interface for managing their work environment. Smarten Spaces delivers a positive user experience that provides a high level of collaboration. If this sounds like a solution to your company’s workspace organization challenges, schedule a Virtual Living Lab Demo today!