Thanks to the pandemic, many employees worked from home for the first time in their lives. Now it’s like a Pandora’s Box for these companies. Once workers have experienced it, they may not want to ever go back to the office. Granted, there are some employees who cannot wait to return to the office. They thrive in an office setting as remote working isn’t for everyone.
Nonetheless, browse social media and you’ll see posts from people who dread going back to the office. Unfortunately, they may be in luck. Hospitalizations have started to climb after the last holiday weekend. It has some organizations rethinking opening the office. Some may have already opened and may shut down again.
For most organizations, the reality probably falls somewhere in the middle. They’ll be dealing with enthusiastic employees who cannot wait to step foot in the office again. Then there will be those who fight tooth and nail not to return to the office. They’re doing everything they can to prove they’re more efficient as a remote worker.
Here are five challenges that need to addressed before offices reopen.
1. Failure to Protect Your Vacant Office
When there are zero or no employees at the office, it can put the building at risk for physical security problems. With few or no vehicles in the parking lot, it could send a loud signal to squatters, homeless, criminals, and rebellious teens that the office is open for them. These can damage your property in different ways.
Squatters and the homeless will find themselves a new home on the property. Covered parking and easy access areas allow them to rest without being rained or snowed on or have the burning sun searing into their skins. This will put a blight on the property and anyone who drives past the building will notice it.
Desperate times call for desperate measures. They may decide to break into the building in hopes of finding running water to clean themselves and quench their thirst. They would probably rather use the building’s restrooms instead of the great outdoors.
Drug dealers and addicts see the property as a convenient place to sell drugs and partake in them. This could be a gateway to bigger and more serious crimes.
Teens and adults with bad intentions could turn the property into their own entertainment center. They transform the parking lot into a racetrack or do donuts that leave unsightly black tire marks everywhere. For no good reason at all, they could break anything they see. Others might convert the property into a large canvas for their art in the form of graffiti.
A vacant office building is a gold mine for criminals. They search for anything of value and resell it. With a little work on their part, they can find copper piping, wiring, and fixtures. Office buildings with easy access to the roof may have HVAC units up there for the taking.
They decide it’s worth the risk to climb up to the roof of the office building to see if there’s anything worth selling. If they get hurt, your company could end up paying for it. That’s right. They can sue the property even though they were in the process of committing a crime. Your company could be held liable for the injuries.
2. Forgoing Revisiting or Creating Health Policies
If you didn’t have a health policy before, then this is the time to create one. For those who have one, it’s time to revise it. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a useful guide to help you ensure your workplace is safe. A policy with effective controls helps minimize injuries, illnesses, and incidents while reducing risks affecting health and safety.
Policies and processes don’t work if no one follows them. That’s why creating health policies is only part of the equation. It’s equally important to ensure everyone knows about the policies and stays on top of it.
Don’t just send people an email with a link or information about the policies. They are more likely to ignore it. Educate everyone about the health and safety policies by holding mandatory online video training. The companies with the best safety and security records conduct regular training sessions and refreshers.
As you work on developing an effective process for controlling hazards, you’ll want to involve employees and office tenants. They can identify situations that create problems and how to control them.
3. Not Paying Attention to Mental Health
Depression has risen since 2020 because of isolation and other factors. Humans are social creatures. Many talented celebrity athletes made headlines because they stepped down for their mental health.
News-Medical.net references a report in the “Translational Behavioral Medicine” journal by Boston College researchers. It reveals reports of anxiety have increased by 50 percent and depression by 44 percent in 2020, a rate six times higher than 2019.
So, yes, companies need to do something about employee mental health. If you don’t, you could put your company at risk for security problems. An employee who detests the idea of going back to the office could act out aggressively. Don’t let your subpar office security and failure to address mental health put your office building in the headlines.
4. Outdated Office Design
Whatever happens, the company needs to be prepared for reopening the office. One factor many often don’t think about is physical security in terms of health and safety.
First, the office design may have to change. A new research report from Leo A. Daly titled “The Future of the Workplace” states that companies need to review their office design and practices.
Leaders will need to answer tough questions.
- What needs to be done to ensure the safety of employees?
- What changes are needed to office typologies and configurations?
- Do we need to reduce office square footage?
- What kind of flexibility does the space need?
You may not have the answers to these questions yet, but you can expect the office to evolve. People want a way to connect and collaborate with each other in the office. The office sets the foundation for a company’s culture and brand.
What’s one way an office needs to change for safety’s sake? An organization that took the “hoteling” approach prior to the pandemic may need to move away from that. Hoteling means no one has a permanent desk or office. It’s first-come, first-served.
This might now work in a post-pandemic world because then every desk would need a thorough cleaning every night to ensure employee safety when they come back the next day to a different desk.
5. Lack of Proactive Office Security
Remote video surveillance is an all-in-one proactive security system that helps increase safety, productivity, and security. Your office building will have eyes on it to help ensure it remains safe and secure. The people monitoring your property are in a remote location. Their lives will never be at risk and they can focus on addressing any office security problems that arise.
They don’t do it alone. Trained monitoring operators work with video analytics to help identify any lapses in safety, cleaning, and social distancing. You will gain peace of mind knowing there are eyes across your entire property monitoring for all of these problems.
Are you thinking about adding office security guards? With remote video surveillance, you won’t need them, or you can reduce the number of guards. Some offices use guards during the day. They like having human presence on site.
However, at night, when everyone goes home, live video monitoring can take over and watch more of your property for up to 60 percent less than what it would to pay security guards and their benefits. Unlike security guards, video surveillance can watch the entire site simultaneously.
Another advantage of your remote video surveillance investment is that it helps to avert crime. The sight of cameras can be a deterrent. Anyone who continues to act suspiciously in spite of the cameras can receive an audio warning from the monitoring operator. This stops some intruders as well as helps prevent damage.
Video surveillance records everything and saves it for later review. This will come in handy whenever there are gatecrashers, liability issues, and gaps in safety and security. Analysts can pull out the footage for use in investigations and lawsuits. The benefits and flexibility of video surveillance will help ensure you get a fast return on your investment.
In working with Stealth Monitoring, you have a variety of security options. Office security experts can review your requirements to create a customized security solution to solve your biggest security challenges. For more information about a proactive security solution that fits your needs and budget, get Your Complete Guide to Securing Your Office or contact us.