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Avoid chaos with a safe return to the office

  • Managing Occupancy
  • Workplace Strategy

Justin Timmer is our In-House Researcher. Contact him via

office occupancy

Employees carefully return to the office, while other employees enjoy working from home for a longer period of time. The whole situation caused by working from home is dividing and tainting opinions. Working from home recently often involves homeschooling, changing the duties of many employees, and causing an overall feeling of insecurity. But now that employees are quietly returning to the office, in the new circumstances. This will change the perception of office work and working from home.

The future will be a period of exploration, where the feedback loops will play an important role in workplace strategy. Occupancy levels will peak and fall, and experiences and preferences will change. At flexible organisations, for example, the occupation will influence itself. If the office becomes too busy, employees will want to work from home again. And if the office empties, then people will want to return to the office. And of course, everyone wants to work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays, so it gets busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We can expect turbulent occupancy rates in the capabilities of the office.

Occupancy tracking and safety

It will take a while before the office regains a stable occupation that is experienced as pleasant. At that time, feelings of safety, pressure and stress will still have an effect on the well-being and productivity of employees. To ensure that this process runs smoothly. It is wise to closely monitor the occupation and to take immediate measures where and when necessary.

But with occupancy tracking, we prefer not to have people walking past the desks to reduce the contamination risk. Preference is primarily given to the use of sensors. Sensors provide objectively reliable information (binary, with a one or zero) when the occupancy peaks occur. Sensors, however, lack the subjective side of the workplace experience. A high occupancy (according to Post COVID-19 standard) does not immediately mean that employees also experience the workplace as busy and unsafe.

occupancy and employee experience tracking

Questionnaires for experience and planning

With questionnaires, you can immediately investigate these aspects and determine whether peak occupancy is a problem. You can also ask employees on which days they will come to the office next week, without having to let go of complex algorithms. But throwing out a long questionnaire gives relatively little meaningful information in these changing times.

The experience of working from home and being at the office will change in the coming months. By taking short questionnaires more frequently (also called experience sampling) through a smartphone app, you get real-time, subjective information: experience in well-being and experience with the current workplace. It also makes the difference between working from home and working at the office very clear. You don’t have to constantly bother your employees with physical observations in the office and/or a one-off long questionnaire. Instead, you can give them an accessible platform where they go at any time. Such a platform provides a weekly reflection focused on their well-being, which has advantages for both parties.

Working from home and the office

Due to the changing relationships between working from home and the office. Facilitating and monitoring the home workplace is becoming increasingly important. After a few months of working from home, for example, RSI complaints can increase because people do not have a good home working setting. Of course, this does not have to be measured and inventoried daily, but periodic digital questionnaires are useful for this.

All in all, it is clear that both office and home working will take on a different role and there is a good chance that returning to the office will precede a period of (relative) chaos if this is not managed properly. It is therefore advisable to use sensors, apps with experience sampling and/or questionnaires so that employees feel safe and healthy in their workplace and can work effectively for their organisation.

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