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Managing Work Stations for Safety Going Forwards

Managing Work Stations for Safety Going Forwards
14 October 2020
 

Chris Smith advises how we can manage our workspaces adhering to current guidelines by using table booking systems, making it clear and comfortable for employers and employees.

Chris Smith is Head of Community at Kajima Partnerships, an award-winning organisation that helps venues across a range of sectors connect with the community, optimise the use of their facilities and generate additional revenue. Kajima Community provides workspace management software and a range of lettings services designed to maximise income and simplify the administrative process. 

Chris is passionate about developing innovative, dynamic teams and creating an environment that brings about positive change, with Kajima Community receiving the BIFM Judges Special Recognition Award for the system and its approach to community engagement.

 

"One thing that has become ever clearer during the pandemic is that ensuring people can go back to the office both safely and with confidence is vital. Workplace management technology, which helps to manage elements of the office from desk booking and meeting room reservation to cleaning schedules, can play an integral role in this process."

 

–Chris Smith
Head of Community, Kajima Partnerships

 

With 49 per cent of people working from home at the height of lockdown according to the Office for National Statistics, it is no surprise that many of us have been itching to return to the office – although teams have learned to work in more agile ways, with 75 per cent of office workers using at least two new types of technology at work since the start of lockdown, it has also had substantial impacts on people’s wellbeing, productivity and opportunities.

Now, many of us want to go back to the office, not least for its sense of community and the personal interactions, with greater collaboration and in-person networking cited as just two of the things people have missed most while working from home. In fact, with a change in UK government guidance again encouraging people to work from home where they are able to do so, one notable exception is now in place for people who need to return to their workplace for wellbeing reasons.

So, how do we support employees to return? One thing that has become ever clearer during the pandemic is that ensuring people can go back to the office both safely and with confidence is vital. Workplace management technology, which helps to manage elements of the office from desk booking and meeting room reservation to cleaning schedules, can play an integral role in this process, as well as supporting greater flexibility across facilities management in the long term.

 

Practical Solutions for the Office

 

Our working environment has a crucial bearing on motivation, productivity and, ultimately, business output. And while we have missed out on in-person collaboration from home, employees have also been faced with new distractions, stalled connectivity and compromised communication. This year saw a 1.3 per cent decline in output per worker over Q1, followed by a further 2.5 per cent drop in Q2 – charting the sharpest decline in productivity since ONS records first began.

So, it is no giant leap to see why many teams continue to favour a return to the office. Workspace management systems offer practical solutions to this, empowering people to once again access the in-person amenities and ergonomic design of the office, while still ensuring that businesses can safely manage social distancing in the immediate term. Automated systems and remote booking platforms can also streamline the administrative burden of managing a COVID-compliant office, as well as providing clear oversight of cleaning processes. For instance, desks can be blocked as unavailable between uses while full cleaning is completed, reinforcing health and safety measures throughout the office.

Ultimately, leveraging the features of workplace management systems to introduce new safety measures will help employers to best manage social distancing in the immediate term, while also supporting teams to transition to more flexible strategies in the months and years to come, as both employers and their workers rethink the need to return to the office on a full-time basis, but by no means want to leave it behind altogether.

 

"As we look to the future, workplace management solutions are crucial for businesses, landlords and operators to navigate this evolution of working norms."
 

–Chris Smith
Head of Community, Kajima Partnerships

 

The Realities of Managing Office Space During COVID-19, in Practice
 

With 65 per cent of people anxious about their return to the office according to Bupa Health Clinics, it is vital that staff feel protected and cared for in the workplace. Further, 42 per cent of respondents cited one of their main concerns as being able to properly socially distance at the office, or their workplace not being clean enough (37 per cent).

As we have seen in our own offices at Kajima, located on London’s Baker Street, workplace management systems such as the recently launched SpaceBooker platform can play a crucial part in addressing and overcoming these concerns, ensuring that employees can return to the office in a way that makes them feel confident in their safety.  

Rather than an assigned desk system, Kajima have closed off specific desks with clear signage indicating that they are out of use. Remaining desks have then been registered on the SpaceBooker dashboard as available for bookings, so that staff can reserve a socially distanced desk, as far in advance as they would like, for the days they will be working in-person at the office.  Not only is this an easy-to-use system for employees and office managers, it combines ease of use with visual cues that clearly indicate and encourage safe distancing, allowing us to have roughly 8-12 team members in the office each day. Because bookings can be made well in advance, the software allows teams and colleagues to plan face-to-face collaborative days in the office, safely.

The platform has also played a crucial part in tracking trends in the workplace – monitoring office occupancy levels and footfall to ensure that social distancing can be safely maintained. And for individuals, being able to also see the number of desks booked each day offers reassuring transparency on occupational density, which has played an important part in helping people to feel more at ease.  


The Future is Flexible
 

With over 60 per cent of desk-based workers wanting to work from home more often following lockdown, there is a clear need for workspace management software that can help people businesses to manage occupancy levels safely in the immediate term, and operate in more flexible ways in the future.

In the years following the pandemic, which will pass, people will continue to be drawn to the amenities of the office. But they will also want to access this space on a more flexible basis. Both in the wake of COVID-19 and as we look to the future, workplace management solutions are crucial for businesses, landlords and operators to navigate this evolution of working norms.

Picture: Chris Smith

Article written by Chris Smith | Published 14 October 2020

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