Organisations have a dilemma on their hands. Workplaces are close to empty and there is too much costly unused office space going to waste.
Yet at the same time, social distancing rules mean office occupancy levels will be reduced for some time. There is both a cost-saving opportunity and an anticipated cost increase if the workforce returns en masse.
Workplace technology exists to help provide comfort and assurance with the ability to sense and to learn when and where spaces are in use in order to keep them clean and compliant.
Occupancy-based data can also keep heads of HR, facilities management and commercial real estate abreast of individual and collective behaviours, allowing them to make educated decisions on optimising real estate space: to evidence the cleaning history of a desk so employees know when it was last used and cleaned ahead of their arrival; to help staff plan their day at work so they are assigned a safe workspace and know who among their colleagues are working in the office on that day.
One option is the Freespace app, which allows office users to check into the space so that their contact details can be traced back in case someone in proximity catches the virus.
It can also be used to help plan visits to the office so that teams can use the space at the same time, boosting collaboration, social cohesion and knowledge transfer.
Intelligent sensors that monitor air flow and environmental elements can provide assurances that air quality and humidity are maintained at levels that minimise risk of virus transmission.
Workplace technology can also help employers plan and prepare for new normal models of workplace use where peak demand needs to be balanced with project planning.
What is needed now are actions instead of words. Only then will life start to return to a new normal in our city centres with all the benefits that ‘hybrid working’ can provide employers, their people and throughout our local and national economies.
Robin Davies is business development director at Freespace