SPONSORED CONTENT: The world has changed beyond belief in the past few months, impacting all aspects of our work and our lives, says Julie Ennis, CEO for Sodexo’s corporate services business in the UK and Ireland
As our thoughts now turn to the future of work, workplaces, wherever they may now be, need to be safer and healthier, with renewed focus on the link between wellbeing and productivity.
We have launched ‘rise with Sodexo’, a unique programme tailored to the needs of every client as they reopen and prepare for the post-pandemic reality. Businesses are drawing on our expertise to prioritise their people, implement supportive changes and seize opportunities.
The trends shaping the future
As the world starts moving again and we consider the implications of that shift, we are beginning to understand how the emerging trends will affect the key areas of workplace experience.
The Covid-19 crisis has brought cleanliness and hygiene into much sharper focus. Previously unknown terms such as ‘social distancing’ are now part of everyday language and the habits they describe have become second nature.
People are more reliant on technology and many have had to become more flexible. Some of these changes are sure to remain after the pandemic, contributing to a significant shift in the long-term future of work.
People are connecting virtually and have proved they can work from home, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they want to get used to it. Whilst many have enjoyed it, ultimately, as humans we are ‘wired for social connection’ and just because you can have people working remotely all the time, doesn’t mean you should.
Physical office space needs to be adapted so it can foster collaboration in new ways and maintain engagement which we know is so important for an organisation to succeed.
Organisations will depend on employees’ willingness to come to the office, so they must be involved in deciding how it looks and works. Previously a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 routine could be imposed, but employees now need to feel safe and in control of their environment and work schedules.
For many, this control will come from the understanding that much of their work can be carried out remotely, supported by the office as a place that offers something they can’t get elsewhere.
Physical workspaces will be critical to the success of companies as we enter the ‘next normal’. Far from being replaced by home working habits, they will become critical hubs that support and enhance the human connection we need.
Face-to-face time will be more valuable as it becomes less frequent, so office design will need to safely maximise collaboration and interaction.
Employers now have an opportunity to adapt the workplace and embrace a truly hybrid work model, focusing even more on people and helping them make the decisions that will lead to the greatest benefits for the individual as well as the organisation.
We need to be agile in response to the changing needs of the workplace.
The most obvious change has been that of the cleaning and janitorial services. Previously delivered outside traditional working hours, these services have risen in importance and organisations are ensuring they are more visible to ensure peace of mind and support for employees and visitors.
It is time to really think about how the workplace can better support the business, and we can do this through effective leadership and through using data and technology to optimise space.
Employees now have an expectation that their employers will keep them safe, supporting their physical, mental and emotional health.
Businesses were already improving their approach to wellbeing and we work with many companies who have been making changes to put people first. The pandemic has proven it takes much more than the absence of illness for people to feel and perform at their best.
Support services at work and at home are expected to become more prominent. From concierge services that remove daily distractions to childcare and home services that can help improve the work-life balance.
All of these changes will combine to make employees more autonomous. Digital technology will be developed to enable this shift, with enhanced training and support to stay connected and productive.
Sensors will gather data on how spaces are used, how physical distancing is maintained and environmental factors such as air quality and temperature. We have recently launched Space eXperience by Wx to provide an end-to-end, plug-in-and-play solution that measures a company’s office use, helps optimise FM services and gives workplace leaders the data and analytics they need to define future workplace requirements.
An understanding of these trends that are shaping the future of work allows us to plan ahead. But there is still much to learn about the new normal and the changes organisations will have to make.
At Sodexo, we are planning ways to adapt our own services in order to help our clients plan for the future. In unprecedented times, creative solutions, combined with agility and resilience, can help organisations survive and ultimately thrive again.