Many businesses across Kent and London are facing a challenge due to the pandemic, as they navigate the difficult task of safely getting staff back to the workplace. Many businesses have been evaluating the best way to respond to the challenge presented by Covid-19 by looking at ways of enabling staff to return to work and helping them to make a safe transition from home working back to office working in the short and long term.
Of course even when restrictions are lifted it doesn’t mean that the virus will have disappeared or pose no threat so Covid secure workplaces will be important. Information on “Keeping workplaces safe as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are eased” can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website which includes advice from public health bodies and other government departments on requirements that aren’t enforced by the HSE. It’s expected, but not definite that England will move to Step 4 of lockdown easing on 19 July.
To keep workspaces safe when restrictions are finally lifted businesses will have to adapt their workplaces to implement new safety standards and to take into account employee feedback and fears. It won’t be simply be about moving some desks, the “new” office will need to embrace innovative solutions that help support staff in new ways of working which don’t impact on health and well-being but still enable them to work effectively and productively. It should include looking at different office layouts to continue to allow for social distancing, investing in and utilising more flexible office furniture, implementing technology to enable easy and efficient communication, ensuring good ventilation, frequent cleaning to keep workplace surfaces clean and disinfected and encouraging good hand hygiene.
Those businesses which adapt now are far more likely to emerge stronger, be effective and efficient in work productivity and therefore be more successful in the long term.
Why Is the Office Important?
Working from home has proved to be very effective for many businesses and throughout the last year there was an unprecedented shift towards home working across many businesses, large and small. However getting staff back into the office will be important as we move out of lockdown restrictions.
You may be asking yourself, If home working was so effective why the need to get back to the office workplace? Although home working or a hybrid home/office approach has been effective and in some cases may still be the right option for some businesses it’s important to remember that the physical office working environment can’t be easily replicated when remote working. Some of the hardest things to replicate are:
Home/work balance: having a clear defined separation between “home” and “work” can become clouded if and when home working takes place. It can be difficult to get into a workplace mindset when you haven’t left home. The actual physical step of leaving home and travelling to work sets us up for our work day. Staying at home can make this difficult – it’s why many people who work from home on a more permanent basis very often try to define a dedicated workspace within their home and in some cases have a separate building – garage, garden workshop/office, cabin shed which is where they go to work.
Face to face interaction: being in the same space as other members of your company, department or team can make all the difference to how well you work. Face to face interactions can have a bigger impact on work than communicating via an online platform like Zoom or Skype etc. We are very good at picking up on facial expressions, body language and other cues when we meet face to face which can be missed when web conferencing. According to a Harvard Business review “Managing Across Distance in Today’s Economic Climate:The Value of Face-to-Face Communication” [PDF] 95% of people surveyed believe face to face meetings are more successful in helping to build and maintain long term business relationships. Another study by Forbes Insight “Business Meetings – The Case for Face-to-Face” [PDF] also found that 85% people feel they can build better and more meaningful business relationships through face to face meetings than through web conferencing.
Staff personal connection and collaboration: being able to meet formally and informally while at work enables staff to collaborate on projects, brainstorm ideas, gather around the “water cooler” and share views. When working from home it’s far harder to “organise” these types of moments so it’s harder to reach the same level of collaboration. It’s a given that staff can message each other or organise meetings on line but the unplanned get together or opportunistic meeting isn’t achievable. The office also provides more opportunities for spontaneous mentoring and learning. Being at home also can’t replicate the buzz and energy of the office.
Balance Within the Workplace
Finding the balance between home and office working will be important for all companies and different from business to business. One size won’t fit all. Each business will need to look at the nature of their business, their processes, office space (when social distancing is implemented) and their employee’s needs to find the right balance.
When it comes to that balance and ensuring you have a Covid secure workplace JBH refurbishments can help.
How Can We Help?
JBH Refurbishments have over 30 years experience in commercial office planning, design and build. We also have expertise in high end residential refurbishment. We draw on our expertise and take into account the official government and other public bodies guidelines on all residential and office refurbishment projects. No matter the size of the project we offer a professional fit out service. From your brief, to putting together a project plan, to developing a home office or commercial office design and layout that meets or exceeds your needs to delivering your office fit out JBH Refurbishments will provide piece of mind. To find out how we can help us via our contact form or by calling us on 0333 207 0339.