Resiliency Planning – Adapting the Workplace to the ‘New Normal’

Resiliency Planning – Adapting the Workplace to the ‘New Normal’

June 29, 2020

COVID-19 has changed the world in ways we do not know yet. It has forced us to adapt our behaviors and thinking to work and live in new ways. As the world begins to see signs of the pandemic decelerating, we are seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and now are faced with returning to the workplace safely.

This requires a holistic approach that reaches across all disciplines to form insightful solutions to redefine how we work. Since the start of COVID -19, Spectorgroup has been researching solutions and partnering with industry leaders within the medical, engineering, technology fields to determine a set of best practices to create a safe and productive office environment. Combining these insights with our design and workplace strategy expertise – as well as guidance from the CDC –  we developed a proprietary process and set of solutions designed to help individual firms create a plan that fits their needs.

We define this as ‘Resiliency Planning’ – a roadmap for tenants and building owners to enable companies to recover quickly by developing short- and long-term solutions catering to their unique organizational challenges and culture.

Process

Every company is different and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Spectorgroup will work alongside your team to understand the impact and assess your current and future needs. Through a series of interactions, we will co-create a resiliency plan that accounts for employee safety, corporate culture, and workplace productivity while also developing long-term strategies that focus on preparedness and flexibility for any office disruption.

Our planning process is structured to first understand the impact of Covid-19 and how it has it has changed your organization. We focus on defining the (why)? – the drivers, necessities and incentives for transitioning back to the workplace – preparing for the (when) – As the situation evolves and changes we are following the safety guidelines set by the CDC and government officials to ensure the safe return to work, and creating a plan for (how)– establishing a roadmap for design, policy and planning considerations to ensure a safe return to the office and long term health and wellbeing.

Short-Term Readiness Planning

Transitioning back to the office effectively starts with a taking a deep examination of how companies use their space and make recommendations to create a more agile and safe work environment. We use the current attributes and assets of the office – without creating unnecessary spend – to reconfigure existing layouts, policies, and procedures that can be applied to support and influence new behavioral norms. The primary objective is to put employee health & safety first and re-establish a sense of comfort within the workplace.

 

 

Having a plan for change management is also crucial to ensure employees are comfortable, excited, and have a full understanding of the ways your office has changed. Spectorgroup will create a step-by-step plan for communicating what is instilled in the design to make it safer. From digital tours to simple best practices of employee communications – your employees need to understand what the changes are, why they were made, and what will impact be to them upon the return to the office.

 

 

Long-Term Resiliency Planning

As a society, Covid brought swift changes to our lives and how we view and utilize physical space. The long-term effects on the workplace are unknown as we experience constant changes in guidelines and can only be measured through patient, strategic responses that focus on long term business requirements. We believe the answer for long-term resiliency planning begins with a simple question – Why?

 

Asking the question why, and exploring your specific company’s long-term objectives, enables us to better create an environment tailored to help your firm succeed well beyond the immediate return to the office. Here are a few of the long-term considerations Spectorgroup will develop plans to best benefit your organization once we understand and answer the why.

 

Design for True Flexibility

A dynamic environment allows for endless flexibility and easy transformation. Flexible design is by no means a new concept, but it is one that will be a differentiator for resiliency planning. Over the last decade of design, there has been a transition in design from cubicles to an increase in open workstations and shared furniture in common areas. These concepts are being rethought.

Shared neighborhoods characterized by community farm style tables that bring teams together or booths to socialize in the centralized café will see a change towards a more modular design. Furniture and spaces that can change on a whim. The idea to have interchangeable, easy to assemble furniture pieces that can be a change with workflow and tasks being performed throughout the day.

Incorporating the Home Office

COVID-19 forced us to develop a work from home policy and procedure overnight. Through this, many organizations and employees found that productivity and work efficiency for some functions could be enhanced.

Harnessing these learnings and applying what worked and what didn’t to long-term, sensible policy can help safely disperse teams, reduce capacity, increase employee retention and recruitment, and ultimately create the most productive and collaborative workspace – both within the office and at home.

We see the home office becoming an extension of the workplace, extending organizational culture into the home, not the other way around. Professional stations at home that can facilitate the collaborative requirements needed to maintain productivity while encouraging the idea of choice and freedom of space to do the work that best suited for that environment, in the right environment.

The Rise of Touchless Technology

From door handles to the central printer and shared iPad’s, everyday touchpoints will have to be revamped. Shared technology in the workplace environment is going to be phased out and personal devices will become essential to minimize the number of people handling a single item.

We will see a rise in voice-activated controls, VR, and touchless tech. Technology that can connect teams from anywhere will be a necessary investment and integrated into the workplace to ensure connectivity and collaboration in any environmental scenario.

Collaboration

An engaged team is a more productive and overall happier team. The workplace emulates the brand of an organization and enhances connection, both for physical gatherings but virtual meetings.

As teams see an increase in remote work, collaborative spaces like conference rooms need to be redesigned around technology to ensure that teams are able to connect on-demand within the workplace and outside of the workplace. 

Wellness – The New Amenity

Health and wellness standards like WELL and Fitwel will become the norm for the health and safety of society. Offices need to be considered as a place that promotes the holistic wellbeing of its inhabitants’ including their physical, mental, emotional, and medical health. For landlords and building owners, this is the new battleground for attracting new tenants. For corporate tenants, health and wellness amenities are a necessary benefit and strong recruitment tool.

A healthy building considers the cognitive function, physical function, and emotive responses of those within the environment. Introducing biophilic elements, increasing access to natural daylight and increased line of sight have been proven to increase performance, positive attitude and employee engagement, and remain important elements to factor into a healthier environment but other wellness requirements, such as increased outside air circulation and air purification and regular deep cleanings will become important trends to amplify the overall element of wellness within the workplace.

Some organizations may take this as an opportunity to re-imagine their workplace and re-define the utilization of their space. Each solution will look different and unique to fit business requirements and needs. Spectorgroup’s team works alongside your team on design, planning, and analysis to find the right solution for your organization.