Mar 15, 2021

Returning to the Office: What Should Be Different?

By Don Catalano


Returning to the Office- What Should Be Different?
COVID-19 has changed every aspect of the way we work, learn and interact with others over the last year. Many states are now relaxing restrictions, making it possible for companies to return to the office, but the coronavirus is not vanquished yet. The effects of the pandemic and the risk for outbreaks in workplaces remain, and as a result, it's unrealistic to believe that you can simply resume working in your previous space in the exact way that you did before. To ensure health and safety and protect your bottom line, many aspects of your office may need to change, including:


Your Team's Daily Location 

Offices provide employees with a home base for collaboration and training, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that day-to-day business doesn't all need to take place onsite. You will likely find it easier to maintain social distancing standards and to smoothly transition employees back to work if you adopt a dynamic workplace where employees can perform essential job functions from home.


Your Layout

Before the pandemic, many companies were moving to shared workspaces to promote collaboration. Social distancing concerns require these wide open spaces to be rethought. One way to reshape communal areas is placing work stations 6 feet apart and installing clear barriers to physically separate workers.


Your Cleaning Routine

Regular deep cleaning and sanitizing of your office space can reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission and give employees peace of mind. You will likely need to increase the frequency of janitorial services and opt for more thorough cleaning than you did in the past.


Your Ventilation 

Studies have found that high quality air filtration is key to limiting coronavirus transmission. Opening windows is one way to improve indoor air quality, but in areas with cold winters and scorching summers, this can lead to increases in HVAC cost. New air filtration systems capable of eliminating SARS-CoV-2 virus particles are often a better option. You can choose one that uses IoT to give your real-time data about air quality throughout your office.


The Flow of Traffic 

Because employees need to remain physically distanced, the flow of traffic through your office will likely need to change. You will also need to consider how and when shared areas like conference rooms and break rooms are used by your team. Smart sensors that monitor and predict traffic flow using artificial intelligence can give you insights into how best to allocate shared spaces and move employees through your office.


Your Lease Portfolio

If you do opt to keep more of your employees at home, there is a good chance that you will have unused office space in your portfolio. IWMS systems can allow you to audit your utilization of space to determine if you should consolidate, shutter or relocate your offices to trim unnecessary expenses.


Your Culture 

Preventing the spread of COVID-19 requires buy-in from every employees. Make safety part of your corporate culture, setting expectations that every member of your team will wear masks, wash their hands regularly and strive for social distancing. Because many of your employees are likely struggling with stress and anxiety post-pandemic, foster a positive, supportive work environment where people feel comfortable discussing their challenges.


Here are a few other articles we know you'll enjoy:

The Costs of the Benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT)

5 Technology Tools to Help With Commercial Site Selection

How Technology is Revolutionizing Commercial Real Estate


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Don Catalano

Don Catalano