We’ve been lucky during this lockdown, as we work from home on the regular. 🌟🌟🌟 (And if you got our last newsletter, you’ll have noticed swimming pools, back decks, and a country oasis – oh my!!). Us Canucks will take advantage of summer all day long and twice on Sunday!
But for many, when Covid-19 hit and companies went on lockdown – the opportunity to work from home was less than great. First, it takes a certain personality to focus and produce from a home office. Second, many people were juggling this “new work mode” with young kids, home from school. And third, the sudden *koff* “familiarity breeding contempt” thing that can happen when your partner/significant other is suddenly in your face day in and day out. LOL!!
Lots of people also live in tiny apartments with little to no outdoor space, and the constant cooped-up’ness of those first three months took its toll.
Fast forward to today – and cities and towns across Canada are in various phases of reopening. And there’s a cohort of employees (see above) who are clamouring to get back to work.
And before companies can re-open, they’ve had to completely rethink the who, what, where, and whens of running a business during a global pandemic, how they think about work, and where and how it’s performed.
Many people returning to work will bring with them no amount of trepidation and anxiety! How do they stay safe, and yet still be efficient and productive at their jobs? How do they ensure they don’t accidentally transmit the virus to their (hypothetical) vulnerable family members? And mostly – how can they trust that YOU – the business leaders of today – have their safety and security top of mind?
How to Reopen Your Workplace Safely
We went straight to an expert for answers! Kevin Steinberger, Program Director and Producer, Future Offices Conference Series at IQPC, tells us that his research with global heads of real estate, workplace HR, and Fortune 500 brands has allowed him to synthesize a safe return to the workplace to three main things:
- And productivity
Kevin was our guest on this week’s episode of the 4 AM Report (and caveat, we do some work with IQPC), and his job is to know the ins and outs of space utilization, leasing new technology, new sanitization measures, automation within design, etc.
You name it, he knows it!
We thought you would be interested in some of his insights on how large enterprise companies are instituting safe reopening protocols into their companies. Even if you’re a small business, you’ll get some real actionable advice here, and maybe discover a few things you hadn’t thought of when it comes to the safety of your teams – and your customers!
Let’s let him do the talking!
Different Strokes for Different Companies
“It’s not a copy and paste job. It’s very different depending on your location. And depending on where you are even in the United States. I do think we’re going to see actually a spike in the utilization of CO working and flex office and shared space, at least within very dense urban environments, for example, like New York City, because the conversation has steered off of ‘We’re not afraid of going to the physical office.’ into “We’re afraid of all the transportation measures, and walking through crowded cities, to get us to the physical office.’ So, that’s a different challenge, that’s been heavily put on the cities and the transportation modes. Someone who lives in Brooklyn that doesn’t want to travel to Manhattan, now might have the opportunity to go to a local co-working spot to get out of the house, to help them focus a little more and feel like they’re in that office environment. And now this is a place they can walk to and not have to take a taxi or subway or walk through crowded city streets to get to their office.”
Did Covid-19 Kill Collaborative Office Space?
“Some of the most successful workplaces I have seen include a very collaborative culture. In the past, we’ve done site tours for future offices, purposely designed so you run into people. And that collaborative culture was always a selling point for recruitment efforts. Whereas now a selling point for recruitment efforts might be how safe the office environment is! As we move forward in the workplace, I think there’s going to more of an emphasis on private individual areas where employees have that sense of trust, that they can work in a safe and sanitized environment. And to get even more granular, we’re seeing the thermal temperature devices now – and they’re adding selfie cameras to these! You can see yourself, to make it a bit more fun. Motion sensor lighting, so no one has to touch light switches. So, reducing those touch points. Individual desks now might have UV disinfection lamps, electronic signs for lobbies at offices. Those signs sync up to employee computer monitors to let them know ‘Hey, reminder to wipe this down’ or send a reminder to wash your hands. Just safety precautions. And then, of course, there’s an explosion in voice activation software. More businesses might be using Amazon Alexa for business, or voice activation doors, or new elevator practices where you tell the elevator what floor you’re going to, versus touching an elevator button. Folks are starting to eliminate desk phones. But it has absolutely changed. And I think it’s really going to be a challenge for those companies that relied on an immense amount of collaboration. Because people are afraid of that right now.”
Taking Conferences Online
“The challenge is really redesigning our conferences, and our conference content, to align with those new priorities. Another challenge was ‘how do we deliver that same type of experience virtually for our speakers, attendees, and conference partners?’ And with that being said, we use platforms other than zoom, [platforms] that offer a bit more resources, like in-session surveys and polls, and actually allow speakers to pre-record their sessions, which gives them a little bit more flexibility on their schedule. And then obviously, on their content. We’ve also gone ahead and used Brella, which is an in-depth virtual event experience, versus just a webinar. Brella offers virtual booths, virtual networking, you can set up meetings, each attendee is tagged with what their interests are. So, you can link up people who are into the same interests. And that actually gives us an edge to our shows that are strictly centered around technical education, deal making and networking. Another thing I’d like to say is, on the positive side of going virtual with events, we capture a much larger and global audience. Now we are seeing sometimes five times the number of attendees signing up for a show, from all different parts of the world, who may haven’t traditionally been able to allocate the budget to take five days out of the office, and then stay at a hotel 2000 miles away. So, for Future Offices, specifically, we’ve seen a massive like surge in attendance. And now they have access to sponsors or partners who may have an ideal solution for them. It’s sort of a win-win, for both sides.”
We think the biggest take-away from these strange Covid-19 times will be that human beings are so bloody adaptable! And as we adapt, so too does our technology – and ultimately how we do business! A win-win, indeed!
You can listen to the entire episode with Kevin Steinberger, as well as all our previous episodes, over on Apple Podcasts.
And if you’re losing sleep over a particular marketing/business related problem during this Covid-19 economic uncertainty, or if you have a guest idea on the topic, let us know. Drop us a line at c+p digital.
And as always, sweet dreams…well, hopefully!