As the UK lockdown restrictions begin to ease, Mitie has published Bouncing Back: Building the Future Workplace, highlighting four key routes to making places safe for employees.
Although traditionally workspaces were thought of as places to perform set work tasks, businesses are increasingly using such spaces to facilitate collaboration, learning, and help colleagues to network. Though this trend was emerging before the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been accelerated by lockdown rules and the mass move to homeworking, states Mitie. So with the widespread adoption of hybrid and remote working, workspace design increasingly needs to adapt to new future ways of working.
Mitie has identified four pillars of activity that need to be considered to ensure that premises offer the most effective working environment for colleagues and visitors.
- Investment in colleague confidence: After over a year of working from home for some, many employees will be apprehensive about returning to their workplace. Investing in solutions that focus on safety and security, particularly those that are easy to spot around the building, will offer peace of mind. This investment must be coupled with strong communications so that employees are aware and reassured by the measures put in place by their employer.
- Design for success: Putting colleague experience at the centre of workplace design is essential, with the environment built around the needs of the employees that are using the space. Understanding how colleagues perform tasks and processes will ensure that the move to agile or hybrid working is effective, as it will focus on creating spaces employees actually need. This should drive both productivity and wellbeing.
- Data and fact-driven change: Making changes to the workplace shouldn’t be based on a hunch. Where colleagues work has a significant impact on how they feel about their role and employer, so facts and data must drive any changes that are made. Understanding and tracking how the workplace is performing from the colleagues’ perspective will guarantee that these spaces can adapt to organisational culture, remain inclusive, and be empathetic to wellbeing.
- Technology-enabled: User-friendly and intuitive technologies, such as desk-booking or food ordering apps, improve colleague experience, foster a sense of safety and security, and deliver productivity benefits. Technology can also share data on how spaces might be used for other purposes, or to reduce costs.
The guide has been launched as Mitie reopens its head office in The Shard in the City of London, following the installation of UV air disinfection technology, thermal imaging cameras, and the use of long-lasting antiviral cleaning products.
Preparations involved an extensive site review and the roll-out of a broad range of solutions to support a safe, secure and productive return to the office. They included the installation of a cutting-edge Luxibel UV air disinfection system, which uses ultraviolet light to eradicate harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi and mould throughout the office’s ventilation system and meeting rooms. Surfaces have been treated with Mitie’s natural and safe cleaning solution, Citrox Protect, which creates a three-dimensional microbiota barrier coating to provide a clean environment. Mitie has also rolled out its workplace app Aria so that staff can book desks and check office capacity in real time, giving them all the information they need to decide whether they’ll work that day from home or the office.
These solutions are augmented by the one-way system, thermal-imaging ‘fever-screening’ cameras on entry to the office and ‘sparkle zones’ – high touchpoint areas where employees are asked to use hand sanitiser after use.
Carlo Alloni, Mitie’s managing director of technical services and integrated FM, said: “How we work has changed unimaginably over the past year and so our workplaces must change too. While many of us have realised the benefits of working from home, effective workspaces will continue to play a key role in keeping colleagues productive and providing a space for collaboration that can’t be replicated online. Businesses that best understand and harness the relationship between their workplace, people, and technology will be the ones who bounce back from lockdown the quickest.”
Image credit | Mitie