The COVID-19 pandemic has created a sharp cultural shift for business. Following prolonged periods of homeworking, many have proven that they can deliver a productive day’s work away from an office environment. As discussed in the last blog, Predicting Future Workspace Requirements, some businesses are now looking to embrace permanent homeworking, but critically, are still maintaining office space for those prefer a more traditional work setting. While more articles are discussing the limited future of offices, many employees are looking forward to a return to the office despite a daily commute, as they uncomfortably sit in their kitchens or bedrooms with laptops, perhaps with noisy neighbours and family, or feel isolated from the daily office chatter. The role of workplace wellness in FM is now more pivotal as companies prepare offices for safe use to encourage the return of their workforce.
Easing into the ‘new normal’
Recreating a sense of community through face-to-face communication and collaboration is a challenging task, but is one that can be made easier with IWMS software. Space management functionality, such as that provided by QFM Return2Work, can make short work of rearranging an office in line with social distancing guidelines, allowing FMs to trial different layouts and alternative routes through an office. It also allows the user to see footfall hotspots, and identify areas where space could be used more efficiently to free up new areas. Kitchens are generally busy throughout the day, but software could be used to identify areas for smaller tea and coffee stations. This allows employees to take short breaks more freely and avoid the stress of close contact with others. By creating different routes through the office, for example creating entry and exit only doors, this can also help regulate the flow of people across an office.
Staggered hours and shifts can help employees adjust to returning to work by allowing them to avoid peak commuting times and reduce the number of people in the office at one time. This information can be added into the IWMS to inform cleaning schedules and help plan space usage across a week.
IWMS can help improve workplace health and safety, as discussed here, by allowing FMs to manage a site by location rather than by asset. This means schedules for cleaning or maintenance could be created for a whole floor at once, rather than for each asset. Important documents can also be attached to all jobs within an area or across the whole site, like a COVID-19 safety policy or a COSHH sheet to ensure the operative is aware of the risks of a strong chemical.
All jobs are visible within the IWMS software allowing the helpdesk to see what work is being undertaken and take action to avoid missing deadlines. This ensures issues are resolved quickly and efficiently and nothing is missed.
Rapid resolution for workplace confidence
Around two thirds of FMs are using IWMS apps, according to Service Works Global’s FM Tech Survey 2020. Communication via mobile phones allows the FM team to operate more efficiently, removing the need for paper-based documentation or a return to base for more information. This helps protect the FM team but also means work can be completed faster, in turn protecting the wider workforce from pandemic risks.
Offering self-service requests is key to keeping the workplace running smoothly, as this empowers both employees and visitors to improve their environment. If the hand sanitizer has run out, for example, it’s easy to report this online without having to spending time calling the busy helpdesk, and means it can be replaced more quickly. This rapid resolution gives employees confidence in the cleanliness of the workplace and can help reduce the stress of being away from a more self-contained home environment.
Plan, communicate, act
Whether a business decides to change their remote working policies or not, it seems likely many will keep some form of office space to cater for those who need it. And of course, there are others which can provide less flexibility like schools, hospitals and infrastructure hubs that need to maintain clean, functional environments around the clock. In either case, the common factor is planning, communication and action – all of which are facilitated more successfully with the aid of IWMS software.
Find out how Service Works Global’s IWMS software, QFM, can help with space planning, resource management and health and safety by contacting us for a demonstration.
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