Silver lining amid COVID-19April 13, 2020 / By
A direct result of COVID-19 containment measures is that organisations are taking a real-time look at the effects of prolonged off-site work and its relation to productivity. Thinking of the future impact of this pandemic on office buildings, it may have already dawned on many of us that a majority of potential long-term trends and health measures will become permanent work-life features in the times to come.
- Flex will become more entrenched or share a larger pie of the portfolio – Many are citing the mass work-from-home initiative as a huge experiment. Still, it is more appropriate to look at it as an inflexion point, from whereon work from home will gain more acceptance from employers. More so, because it has the potential to become much more mainstream, especially for industries and roles where the staff need only a laptop and internet connection to do all or most of their duties. Will this influence the share of flex in office portfolios in future? Definitely! From here on, companies will become more willing to adopt flexible working and work-from-home policies, positively influencing the demand for flex space. Besides, organisations will look for smaller and network of multiple locations operating independent of each other.
- Buildings with wellness features will be coveted – Research on the direct linkage between buildings and occupants’ health have made both landlords and occupants increasingly aware of having wellness features in offices. Designing workplaces that promote better health among employees will gain stronger impetus. Green buildings are better for the planet, but the future will see healthy workplaces that are good for people too. Features related to indoor air quality, ventilation systems and other environmental factors that improve employees’ wellbeing, as well as productivity, will become the new normal. Urban planners across Asia already include green and healthier spaces in build environments to promote physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of their inhabitants. This trend will enter the office space directly. As a result, we will see more newly constructed buildings adhering to LEED and WELL certifications.
- Facility management will gain higher importance – Being an all-weather team will become second nature to the facilities management professionals. They will learn from a world where all are prepared to shut down buildings overnight while ensuring no or little business discontinuity. Greater responsibility towards cleanliness and sanitisation will make disinfecting a more regular activity at the office level, especially for shared amenities like washrooms, cafés, meeting rooms, phone booths etc. Designing and managing facilities to control disease spread will feature as a responsibility. Similarly, decisive decision-making and faster, thorough and consistent communication will become key at the strategic level.
- Business Continuity Planning will become a strategic priority – Having a centralised, cross-functional response team tasked to ensure business continuity will become a permanent feature of the workplace strategy. Needless to say that a task force that proactively plans and be always ready to deploy business continuity plans during all kinds of incidents, and not mobilised only when the emergency hits, will become essential. Their highest priority will be to maintain back up for critical business functions and essential employees, thus ensuring minimal or no impact on business.
While most of us are working from home during the pandemic, some are longing to go back to the comforts of the known world, which, we’re aware, is about to change, accelerating pace for the Future of Work.
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