A pre and post-COVID time is defining the facility management industry right now, with vaccination rates increasing by the minute, and countries continually modifying the social regulations related to COVID. The new era of work has begun in several parts of the world. Many companies are bringing employees back to the office and have determined the plan to do it. While few will remain fully remote, and others will take advantage of the hybrid working model, most organisations wish to bring back normality to their offices. Although these models are not the only ones in place, these strategies are mainstream across sectors and industries.
Bringing employees back to the office can be a challenging task. Welcoming them to a workspace that is no longer adapted to the needs of the users could make it even harder. Plus, the need to create human interactions and regain lost company culture by connecting people requires facilities that enable both. Among the necessary steps to make a successful return to the office, the first stage is to create an office asset inventory. Because a detailed overview of the office assets grants higher flexibility to restructure the workplace. This blog explains why now is the right time to readapt the office to the new era of work, and how a workplace asset inventory could be a beneficial process for bringing employees back to the office.
The office is not dead
Throughout the period of lockdowns, there was an increasing expectation that in the post-COVID era the office would go obsolete, seeing that working from home and remote working was suddenly the norm for more than a year. However, this is far from reality as the office does not only symbolise a space to build an organisation’s culture and to create the optimal conditions to work. The office represents a place for employees to gather (physically or virtually). A space to interact and create new ideas and share moments for the sake of social contact and the progress of the company.
Something that might be not relevant anymore is the way the office was in the pre-COVID era. A nine to five approach from Monday to Friday, which was more or less the norm. This model will have to be more flexible, which translates to a more dynamic workplace where the office is adapted to allocate all sorts of working schemes combined. Either with a high increase in remote working, and more employees wanting to embrace a hybrid working model. How will your organisation hold a meeting where both remote and in-person employees at the office interact with no limitations? What if your meeting rooms are now mostly adapted (or not entirely) to remote meetings or in-person meetings? It is necessary to have an overview of the spaces, the capacity of those rooms, and the assets the users use.
Readapting the office strategy
The experience and culture are crucial to the success of a workplace strategy. Facilities must then be redesigned to accommodate the new challenges and demands of the workforce. From hybrid meetings to create a human-centered connection between the teams. In this aspect, according to Harvard Business Review, several models for the post-pandemic workplace will surge. Which are not necessarily new, instead these are options to adapt to the new era of work. However, it is recommended to not bring employees back to the office at once. This translates into the workplace to readapt activity-based working spaces, where employees can reconnect and collaborate.
Returning to the office requires a plan that considers aspects such as desk spacing, office layout, and the maximum number of people allowed in meeting and conference rooms. These are some examples of criteria an office inventory could assist with. Maybe your office requires converting certain areas like individual desks into other types of workspaces. Or might require lowering the maximum capacity in a certain space, since not every employee will feel safe working very close in a cramped room. Furthermore, the different schedules, days of the week, and locations that employees potentially will work in the office will determine how employees use the office space.
Do you know your office assets?
No matter which workplace model your organisation is willing to adapt. An office inventory is necessary to see the bigger picture of what the organisation owns and what is missing when readapting the office layout. There is a possibility that more open space furniture is necessary to extend collaboration areas. Chances are that the individual desks can be repurposed into extra space in the conference or meeting rooms. While seating arrangements such as chairs and sofas could be distributed to areas where teamwork is conducted.
Conducting an inventory of your office assets provides insights into the furniture and lifespan of your assets. This means, knowing how long you can count on these assets and the specific characteristics of the workplace resources. In terms of static furniture, specific aspects are not significant, but more sophisticated assets. Such as IT, hardware, and communication apparatus require a more detailed registration. Not every technology in the office is adapted to support the communication platforms mostly used nowadays. Think of technology capable of connecting all the different video conferencing platforms. Simultaneously, the inventory list prepares your workspace for future events such as better adaption to remote or hybrid environments. Or an unexpected adjustment to social and distance regulations once again.
A chance to make it different
Going back to the office might look like a huge challenge. With the right preparations, this momentum could be an opportunity to make it different, to make it better. Workplace experiments must happen as long as the users and employees are at the center of the changes. Nevertheless, before running trials and reaching conclusions, it is essential to identify each one of your assets in the workplace. This way it is easier to decrease, add, modify or improve the inventory, making the task of readapting the office to the new era of work a smooth process.