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Is the Onus on FMs to Prove the Office is Better Than Home?

Is the Onus on FMs to Prove the Office is Better Than Home?
27 August 2021

When it comes to persuading a mass return to the office, do facilities managers hold the most influence?

In this guest piece, Richard Morris from technologywithin writes about technology’s place in encouraging employees back to the physical office.

After completing an MBA, Morris went on to become the MD of IT services business MCW Group Ltd, providing IT networking, technology and training service. Clients included M&S Financial Services, Unilever and Shell Research. In 2008, Morris took the opportunity to sell the business and joined the acquiring business, Keycom PLC, becoming Sales Director and joined the PLC board, listed on AIM. Notable clients included University of Edinburgh and Aspire Defence. Then in 2011, Morris joined ip-Xchange Ltd as Sales Director. More recently and following the merger of ip-Xchange and Stickman Technologies, Morris is now the Sales and Marketing Director at technologywithin.


How to Persuade Workers Back to the Office: The Answer is Tech


With UK workers less likely to have returned to the office than their counterparts in countries such as Germany and the US, the onus is now on facilities managers to prove that the office is a better workplace than home. And while offering flexible working options and collaborative, social workspaces have their merits, the key to attracting workers away from their kitchen tables and makeshift studies is simple: better tech.

Home workers lost as much as 72 minutes daily to poor connectivity during lockdown, contributing to a rising tide of stress and isolation. So, rather than trying to replicate the creature comforts of home, facilities managers need to prioritise the basics that home working environments lack.

High-quality internet connection, for example, is something those fatigued by router-restarts will brave a crowded commute for. And rightly so, as a well-connected office can provide a platform for both workers and businesses to bounce back strongly from the pandemic.

In fact, so great is the value placed on connectivity that many tenants now require reassurances about the service speeds they can expect. Leaving multiple occupants to fight for bandwidth on a shared connection is therefore an untenable model. Facilities managers should instead invest in a dedicated bandwidth model which can deliver rapid, reliable connection for tenants, as well as robust returns for operators.

High-spec video conferencing solutions provide an attractive alternative to broken Zoom calls. “You’re on mute” will no longer be the mantra of the post-pandemic meeting; instead, facilities managers can invest in market-leading platforms which will enable tenants to collaborate effectively, despite the distances which may remain between them as company workstyles become more fluid.

These video conferencing applications will facilitate a smooth transition to hybrid work strategies, which have understandably exploded in popularity since the beginning of the pandemic. And with home workers consistently citing collaboration as the main thing they miss about the office, it is vital that facilities managers enhance their superior suitability with the best available tech.




AI-Enabled Wellbeing Features


Furthermore, facilities managers should invest in AI-enabled systems which can adjust lighting, heating, and air conditioning for optimum comfort. Smart digital infrastructure will be critical for supporting workers’ wellbeing in the wake of the pandemic, with 80 per cent of respondents telling a recent Nuffield Health survey that home working in 2020 had negatively impacted their mental health.

Providing an ideal environment for workers to flourish, therefore, will improve workers’ experience. And with workers’ wellbeing never higher on businesses’ agenda, supplying a space in which tenants’ can be at their happiest, healthiest, and most productive will put office operators in a strong position to attract the best returns on their investment.

In short, repopulating the office will indeed rely on persuasion rather than coercion, but without the tech to tempt workers back, facilities managers could find more desks remain empty than necessary.

Picture: a photograph of a person working in an office on a laptop, in a communal area featuring plants

Article written by Richard Morris | Published 27 August 2021


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