A new study of the future workplace in Western Europe revealed what we already know – that COVID-19 has forced companies to facilitate a hybrid office workplace model enabling a large percentage of workers to operate remotely. But the transition to this new normal did not come without difficulties.
According to IDC, over 60% of Western European organisations will keep in place at least some of the newly implemented work-from-home policies. Furthermore, over 40% of them will reduce their office floorspace as a consequence.
In this new normal, office managers face the tough task of allowing a safe return to the office.
In this transition, companies encountered many challenges including inadequate and unsecure home internet connections and staff training issues for rapidly introduced home-working solutions.
Having gone through the learning curve, companies clearly intend to maintain a hybrid model going forward.
Three solutions that have the potential to reduce the risk of new outbreaks and make the office both a smarter and safer place include:
- Staff attendance management solutions are helping companies to control which employees access premises and map how they move throughout the organization. This area has received huge attention following recent news on Android-Apple device interoperability for health applications.
- Social distancing solutions are helping staff to maintain productivity and interaction with colleagues while complying with the many recommendations of health organizations.
- Housekeeping solutions include a wide variety of products currently in high demand that can help to better manage communal areas in offices, in particular UV lighting and touchless technology.
"There's no doubt that the hybrid model will become the norm going forward — the pandemic has only accelerated an ongoing shift," said Mick Heys, vice president, Future of Workspace and Imaging at IDC. "The physical office remains an important but diminished part of the future of the workplace."
IDC associate consultant Mario Lombardo is not worried about the potential demise of the office.
“Physical space can have a tremendous impact in inspiring staff and enabling companies to imprint their unique corporate values. It generates 'human collisions' and companywide collaboration in a unique way that is still hard to replicate in a digital workplace. As these aspects will continue to be fundamental for organizations going forward, it's important to aim for balanced approaches that continue to value the physical experience," he concluded.