As more people get vaccinated, the light at the end of the tunnel finally appears. What does that mean for the workplace? Will we go back to pre-pandemic normal? Will we have a new normal?
All signs point to a new normal. The biggest reason being that companies have discovered the benefits of remote working. Many never thought to offer remote working because they believed collaborating in person worked well. Some leaders feared that allowing workers to work from anywhere would lead to them not putting in a full day's work.
So, what does the future of the workplace look like? Commentaries from around the web reveal the following six clues.
Before the pandemic, 70 percent of people all over the world already worked remotely at least once a week according to an IWG study shared by CNBC. In the U.S., a Gallup survey mentioned in The New York Times says more than 40 percent of working Americans worked remotely part of the time.
There's more. Remote work statistics from Global Workplace Analytics state that 40 percent more employers in the U.S. offer flexible workspace options than they did five years prior. Additionally, more than half of American employees have a position where some of the work can be done from home some of the time.
Yes, there is even more, Global Workplace Analytics indicates multiple studies have repeatedly found desks are vacant more than half of the time. Owl Labs' State of Remote Work 2019 reveals that 80 to 90 percent of the U.S. workforce wants to work from home at least part of the time.
For the past year, companies have been implementing tools and resources to support employees as they work from home or wherever. Companies are finding that if they want to compete for talent, they will need to offer remote working and greater flexibility.
In its Future of the Office Survey, CBRE Research asked respondents what their preference is for where to work after the pandemic ends. Almost 30 percent want to be fully remote, close to 30 percent want to be mostly remote, and a third want a hybrid setup. Only 16 percent want to be either fully at the office or mostly at the office.
Does this mean the office is going the way of the dinosaurs? No.
CBRE's 2020 Global Occupier Sentiment Survey shows that the physical office will still play an important role. The survey shows almost 40 percent of organizations want to be primarily office-based while 42 percent want to be a hybrid. Only 11 percent want to be mostly remote. Furthermore, most employees expect to have an office available. Most of those who fall into this group also support a hybrid approach of splitting their time between the office and home.
How will organization's real estate requirements change in the next few years? CBRE Research affirms that more than 80 percent expect to see either a modest or significant decrease in their real estate portfolio.
The company office remains valuable for these four reasons:
In short, companies will adopt a flexible approach with regard to real estate. They expect to redesign the company office to be more adaptable. About half of the respondents from companies around the world in CBRE's survey anticipate the physical office to open back up by 2021.
The biggest barriers to returning to the office are related to COVID-19. Companies remain concerned about the transmission of the virus and employees' health. Additionally, employees do not feel comfortable returning yet, some don't want to risk taking public transportation, and some need to plan childcare.
The one thing likely to change with office space is the amenities. You'll find companies on both ends of the spectrum. On one end are the companies looking to create a healthier workplace. Instead of on-site gyms and lounge areas, they'll require better indoor air quality, touchless technologies, and a social distance-friendly setup.
On the other end of the spectrum are companies doing the opposite of social distancing. They'll turn it into a venue for collaborating and doing team-focused tasks. The office will also be the place for building culture and community.
Then there are the in-betweens. These will aim to design a welcoming environment offering conveniences. At the same time, they will prioritize employee health and wellness. They may add an on-site health clinic, gym, food and snack services, and meditation rooms.
Workstations and meeting rooms will be redesigned to support social distancing. Instead of setting up cubicles like sardines, companies will rearrange cubicles to put more distance between desks and walls.
Fortunately, this can be done without buying new furniture. Cubicles are designed for flexibility. It is a matter of working with an office space designer to figure out how to maximize the space while giving employees more breathing room in conference rooms and at their workstations.
It's possible to redesign conference and meeting rooms to respect physical distancing. They could have whiteboards and large video conference screens while spacing out the seating. Putting video conferencing equipment into meeting rooms will allow employees to be distributed across locations instead of having everyone crowded in a single meeting room.
Prior to the pandemic, many offices and commercial buildings already had contactless technology in place. Popular contactless technologies comprise touchless lighting switches, self-flushing toilets, and automatic handwashing stations. Leaders will invest more in contactless technologies to create a healthier environment.
Companies may want to add more touchless entries. An access control system works well for contactless entry into the building. Companies can integrate them at the front entrance, side entrances, and parking entrance. One benefit of this technology is that organizations can manage and control access everywhere in the building. No one will need keys or change the locks.
Aside from the front entrance, contactless entry can be applied to bathrooms. Not all touchless doorways are electronic. Some airports have a short hallway leading to the bathroom where outsiders can't see inside while eliminating the need for doors.
Does your office or commercial property have security guards? If not, are you thinking about it? You will not need them with remote video surveillance. Instead of posting security guards in different places around the office or commercial buildings, remote video surveillance can do it all for a fraction of the cost.
Remote video surveillance has deterred many potential criminal activities. The sight of security cameras can cause some trespassers to turn around and leave. For those that continue to approach the building, the security operator can issue a warning over the audio system. This stops some intruders and prevents damage.
On top of all this, video surveillance saves all recordings in my butt for reviewing as needed. This will come in handy whenever suspicious activity takes place, a liability issue pops up, or a safety concern arises. You'll have access to the footage anytime you need it for investigations and lawsuits.
Security guards cannot catch as much as remote video surveillance can. Video monitoring helps boost safety, security, and productivity. It offers a safe way to monitor the office building from a remote location. This puts fewer people on the property, which helps social distancing.
After dealing with the pandemic for a year, it's no surprise that people feel pandemic fatigue. They start to grow complacent about doing the things that keep them safe. This can happen with security guards.
Security guards can watch the surveillance monitors for hours on end. It won't take long before it turns into a mind-numbing exercise. However, when you add analytics in video surveillance, you close that gap. Artificial and human intelligence work together to optimize monitoring. Unlike security guards, monitoring can watch for breaks in safety, social distancing, and property cleaning protocols.
The entire system, including the equipment and monitoring, can cost up to 60 percent less than what it would cost to provide security guards with a salary and benefits. Additionally, video surveillance can observe the entire property at once. This includes the parking garage, alleys, roof, and anywhere else.
Any office building in a location where severe weather or natural disasters occur, may want to strongly consider live video monitoring. When something happens, the trained monitoring operator can notify the company's contact points if something happens on the property.
You gain peace of mind knowing that someone is watching your property especially with all the fires, floods, and snowstorms in North America that have occurred over the past year. The many benefits and flexibility of video surveillance help ensure you see a fast ROI.
No doubt, the pandemic is changing where and how employees work. These are the six ways that it's expected to change.
Just like companies need a workplace customized for their needs, they also need personalized security services that meet their requirements.
Remote video surveillance can cover indoor and outdoor areas, entries, dumpsters, roofs, alleys, and parking areas. You can work with a security adviser who can conduct an evaluation and make recommendations. If you'd like more information about proactive security solutions, contact us. We can help you.