Why do I need an office?

With most businesses across the country focused on their respective return to work plans, more organizations are considering how much office space they will need and how that might change in the future. From what we are hearing, and after conducting our own client surveys, most employees can expect to be working in a “hybrid office environment”, which consists of working some days from home or remote and other days in a traditional office. This hybrid model that many companies are already starting to adopt is beginning to have a major impact on the office market.

Most companies realize that fewer of their employees will be coming into the office every day and it has left executives questioning the need for offices and has made them hesitant to sign or renew existing office leases. Many have considered reducing space or consolidating offices, yet there is growing concern about decreased productivity of having a dispersed and isolated workforce. There is also a lot of data demonstrating the negative impact on employee well-being that long-term remote work can have. Other common concerns include lack of collaboration and knowledge sharing, higher turnover, lack of company culture and other items that can negatively impact your bottom line.

It seems like everyone has an opinion when it comes to what the future of work might look like, but ultimately, depending on your industry, organizational structure, the type of work you do, and current corporate culture, it could look wildly different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to workplace design – it’s all about finding the right fit for your company’s needs. Flexibility, choice, and scalability will play an important role, along with re-establishing your workforce’s relationship to the office and the workspace. As our own experience has demonstrated, you will find that your employees will engage and utilize the space much differently than they did just over a year ago. Helping companies understand what the right amount and mix of space is for their unique workforce is one of the most important services that the team at Rightsize Facility can provide.

More open and virtually connected collaboration spaces will start popping up, as will new ways to connect virtually. Different departments will have different needs. For instance, sales may want more access to flexible, collaboration space to meet with clients, whereas designers and IT staff may want technology-enabled conference rooms or ‘Zoom Rooms’ where they can virtually collaborate with their colleagues working remotely. You will also see a very deliberate and intentional commitment to sustainability and well-being incorporated to the new design strategies. As you continue to evaluate and quantify the value of your office space(s), it’s important to be aware of these differences and how your existing workspaces may need to be reconfigured accordingly.

There isn’t one specific, “Future of the Office’, ‘The New/Next Normal’ or even an ‘Office 2.0’. Each company and organization have different needs and different working environments that work for their team members. What history and our own experience are demonstrating is that even if you have the technology, infrastructure, and processes in place, it does not necessarily equate to productive collaboration. We will still periodically have needs for in-person meetings with colleagues and clients. Offer your team an opportunity to review your return-to-work plan. See how they feel about it. Do they have any recommendations that you can incorporate? It is imperative for collaboration, brainstorming, establishing expectations as well as trust.

It’s the human side of work that makes it all the more imperative that we get people back together in the office environment. So, whatever approach and arrangements you take to return your staff to the workplace be sure to follow these guidelines. This will ensure you end up with a delighted, highly engaged, and high performing team anxious to return to a socially engaging work environment.

Of course, a lot of things revolve around the vaccine and vaccination numbers which vary greatly from city to city, and which also need to be taken into consideration. Is it safe to start bringing everybody back? Does your team have a large base of employees that need to take public transportation to get to the office? There are still a lot of factors to consider and as more evidence and data becomes available, decisions about future office space requirements for both occupiers and landlords/property managers will become clearer.

If you still have unanswered questions about your own return to work plans or are unsure of how much office space you may need going forward, we’re here to help. Contact the team at Rightsize Facility to setup a complimentary space consultation and together we can outline your organization’s return to a collaborative & connected workplace community.

The Reason Retail Design is Changing Workplace Design

After spending more than a year in a pandemic, the idea of the traditional office space has been completely dismantled. Now, your office could be your sofa, a bar stool at your kitchen island, or a spare room in your home. The result of this shift to a more informal office space is having long-term consequences for the traditional office, which is accelerating innovation around office design. The latest muse? Retail spaces.

Why Retail Design Is Critical To Developing Productive Work Spaces

Retail spaces are the latest inspiration to emerge for post-pandemic office design. Previously, office spaces had a strict design format that focused on using space efficiently while increasing productivity.

The design focused on answering questions like:

  • Will it be possible to seamlessly scale the design and do so cost-effectively?
  • How many employees can comfortably fit into the space without hampering productivity?
  • Will the budget maintain the upkeep of the space?

While the traditional office made it possible to answer these questions in the affirmative, it is only when space efficiency and productivity took center stage that the formal office space was born. However, we’ve recently discovered, this formal office space lacks the stimuli necessary to make the design worthwhile for employees, and by extension their employers.

Retail design solves this problem, as it shifts the focus from space and budget efficiency to engaging the consumer, the consumer, in this case, being the employee.

Retail-inspired office design focuses on answering questions such as: how to get employees to feel more inspired at work, be more productive, and add value to company culture?

In the past, that answer was to simply create open-plan spaces. While an open plan space works, retail design examines the psychology of what makes a workplace more engaging and stimulating, ultimately making employees more productive.

If workplaces are to benefit from the same psychological principles that retailers have for decades, they need to place an emphasis on making an office space more inviting. Therefore, employers need to think of design as an intricate part of enhancing an employee’s office experience, similar to the way retailers focus on delighting consumers.

What Retail Can Teach Offices About Increasing Employee Engagement

Step into any retail space and you’re immediately stimulated. Everything from the lighting, the flooring, even the entryway, has been designed to make you feel welcome.

For workplaces post-pandemic, the emphasis will also be on making employees feel welcome and safe in their new working environment. Millennials, who are among those who have taken a considerable mental health beating, want an office that encourages learning and collaboration – something that was sorely lacking during the pandemic. Therefore, the new focus of the office should be on promoting employee well-being.

For the average office, this means creating a flow – natural to employees – that makes collaboration and peer-to-peer learning easier. Employees should not have to struggle to collaborate with their colleagues, nor should they feel isolated when at the office. To ensure that collaboration and community are prioritized, consider removing opaque barriers so employees can see each other.

Beyond communication and navigational flow, offices can also incorporate positive triggers that retailers use, triggers that will increase productivity and reduce stress. Triggers like more unoccupied space to reduce feelings of claustrophobia, generous use of organic textures like wood to make the space feel warm and inviting, and lighting that keeps employees alert while ensuring they don’t experience strain or fatigue.

Discerning companies will also ensure that the design elements they choose to implement will have the most effect on their employees and their employees’ perception of their working environment. In addition to taking office design as seriously as other initiatives applied to maintain employee wellbeing.

The Pandemic Will Accelerate Retail-Centered Design in the Office

In a post-pandemic office space, the nucleus will be feeling welcome and comfortable in the working environment. Since employees have been working in isolation for such a long time, meaningful interaction will be far more appreciated and act as a stimulant for productivity instead of a distraction. Other positive retail design triggers like the thoughtful use of space, color, and textures will also result in a workforce that’s more engaged, making implementing these aspects more rewarding for companies.

Contact us to receive a free space plan that will take into account retail-centered design initiatives.

Workplace 2.0 – Unity & Community

Workplace 2.0 – Unity & Community

Businesses were forced to embrace a lot of changes last year, and the office environment is a direct reflection of that. Going forward, the ‘why’ of work will be essential to a successful workplace. In 2021 and beyond, workplaces will need to focus on unity and community with both employers and employees reminded of the end goal, which, in turn, will allow organizations to thrive.

Moving forward we will start to see that companies will begin offering their employees multiple ways of working to choose from:

  • Regular office-based workers who are in the office at least three times a week with an assigned workspace/desk
  • Flexible workers who go into the office once or twice a week and work at designated or reservable workspace/desk
  • Remote workers who visit one of several, centrally located office hubs a few times a year

With social distancing restrictions loosening and employees returning to work, many office spaces have been subject to re-configurations to ensure the safety, functionality, and well-being of their employees. Below we have highlighted some of collective changes you can anticipate as we continue transitioning back to the office environment – all working collectively to foster the 3 C’s: Collaboration, Connectivity and Community.

 

Community-Centered Office Design

Creating a sense of community in traditional offices by introducing Resimercial (residential meets commercial) design trends or incorporating meeting spaces and bars and lounges had been trending even before the pandemic. These will continue to play well in larger spaces, as they offer a place where employees from different departments can safely co-mingle. It is also worth noting that according to JLL human performance research, 89% of employees think of their colleagues as a second family, so creating these types of spaces will help to boost morale.

 

Office as Experience

The biggest question facing employers and on everyone’s mind right now is whether employees will actually want to go back to the office full-time once the pandemic slows down? The fact of the matter is that in some cases, the answer will still be no.

From a hiring and talent retainment perspective, employees will start to prioritize flexible working first. The space itself should be designed in such a way as to really encourage employees working flexible hours to want to spend more time in the office. And for those working full time from the office each day, it should provide the same comforts and benefits as the home environment they worked from for most of 2020.

While some businesses are open to the idea of flexible working, we are finding that others are not and once the vaccine is widely available and the pandemic slows down, they want their entire staff back in the office Monday-Friday, like they were pre-pandemic.

Regardless of your company’s preference, the best way to keep employees happy, healthy, and secure is to make working in the office a pleasant and enjoyable experience. To do so, you can offer things such as – complimentary coffee and healthy snacks; implement new wellness initiatives like yoga and gym memberships; incorporate more Resimercial elements like lounges and comfortable furniture; more green spaces; exercise, meditation areas, and even game/leisure spaces.

 

Technology & Connectivity

As remote working appears to be part of the long-term plan for at least of handful of employees, spaces will need to be configured to streamline and optimize digital communications between those in the office and those working from home or remotely. For those in the office, it can be quite very disruptive when a colleague jumps onto a Zoom or Teams call on their laptop, so setting up a dedicated videoconferencing room can solve this issue. Not only will it enable private conversations and meetings to take place it will also provide confidentially can also function as an additional breakout room for your team. You can also anticipate seeing new technology to facilitate videoconferencing such as larger screens, movable webcams and bluetooth and voice-enabled speakers. If you happen to currently have furniture systems in your space with integrated power, then you’re already one step ahead of the game.

 

The Positive Effects of the Pandemic on the Office Interiors & Design Industry

The trends which we have highlighted here point towards a future where Collaboration, Connectivity and Community will be the centerpiece of future office design. Sustainability will also be a focal point and sourcing sustainable furniture, fixtures & equipment (FF&E) will help to lower organization’s carbon footprint and benefit the environment in the process.

By remaining agile and providing flexibility and choice to your employees you will increase productivity, improve unity and connectedness as well as the overall happiness and morale of your team. The cultural benefits of becoming ‘flex-able’ going forward may not be a current line item on your P&L statement, but don’t be surprised if that changes in the future.

With all of this considered, the office of tomorrow will be an innovative and inspiring place, and if you start to incrementally make positive changes to your space now, your team will be eager to return to the office in droves!

 

Contact Rightsize Facility here.

Focus on Health and Wellness for Future Office Spaces

Focus on Health and Wellness for Future Office Spaces

The built environment shapes our behaviors and lifestyles, and the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the design and operation of commercial buildings in several ways. From shutting down for months at a time to rethinking the way we view and reconfigure spaces to keep occupants safe—it is becoming clear that coming out of the pandemic, the focus is going to be on health and wellness. Savvy developers and workplace designers are already realizing that incorporating health and wellness into building and workspace design isn’t just going to be a luxury—it’s going to be a necessity.

The spaces people occupy, including their homes as well as offices, have an enormous impact on health, well-being and productivity. These spaces will be reconfigured and retrofit with more movable partitions, workstations and seating options that can easily accommodate social distancing. All of which contribute to the bottom line and make economic sense for any organization.

There is no one size fits all solution, and the built environment and workspaces need to be designed for a multitude of working arrangements that allow workers the means to easily make meaningful changes to the space, while still creating the sense of place, character, pride and purpose that aligns with the unique values of the company. Some of the resulting workspace trends to anticipate include:

  • supportive environments with employee health in mind;
  • more multifunctional furniture and increased collaboration spaces;
  • a welcoming design and better overall work environment; and
  • spaces that cater to remote workers.
Several commercial real estate firms and flexible space operators see this as an opportunity and are curating new and interesting approaches and offerings to drive tenants and individuals back to the office. Four questions that developers, building owners and leasing agents should be asking themselves to have more informed conversations with prospective tenants in the post-pandemic market include the following.
  • Who is this building for?
  • How can buildings and workspaces stay relevant long-term?
  • What sort of shared offerings will occupants desire in the future?
  • What visual tools best convey opportunities to attract tenants?

The ability to help tenants visualize something that they might not see for themselves is the key to unlocking value in any real estate asset. CBRE has an interesting Office Ready concept they’ve rolled out and Cushman & Wakefield have taken it one step further with their Plug+Work approach.

The ongoing designing for wellness trends will continue and the built environment will be reflective of a much more “mind-body-spirit” approach than it ever has before. Sustainability features and well-being will take center stage, and things that used to be something of an afterthought in the design process—such as the amount of natural light and flexible furnishings—will become far more prominent in design discussions. Access to outdoor work areas, flexible and remote work arrangements, green spaces, and anything to enhance comfort and encourage mental and physical well-being will become the norm.

Whether we are ready for it or not, the future of work is fast approaching, and our lives will forever be changed. It seems everybody out there is prophesizing and predicting what the “future of work” or the “new normal” will look like, along with the timeframe to expect it. What the past several months have taught us is that we can work from anywhere we need to—whether it’s in a private office, a coworking space, an ergonomically sound sit-to-stand desk with matching chair or simply at a kitchen table. A work-from-anywhere movement is developing and employee and employer expectations have shifted.

Businesses will continue to have at least a partially remote workforce, and it’s time to rethink the way buildings and workspaces are designed to embrace and benefit from what we’ve learned about how remote and hybrid teams can be as productive as a fully staffed office. To attract and retain tenants and top talent, we need to start thinking of the office as a place we go to “do business,” rather than a place where we go to work every day—and it all starts with designing for wellness.

Contact Rightsizes Facility here

The Future of Work Wellness

A resounding message to come out of 2020 is that workplace wellness is not only important, it’s paramount.

It used to be, “So much has changed in the last five or ten years.” However, we are living in an age when significant and long-term change takes effect in a year. Therefore it is up to companies and organizations to recognize these changes and implement them to improve employee wellbeing.

 

Why Prioritizing Work Wellness is Fundamental For Your Business

Work wellness has been a central focus for some time, but it first gained attention in the collective consciousness of every HR manager and CEO when Mercer revealed in their 2018 Global Talent Trend how influential it is to business success. In light of this, here are some of the reasons you should focus on wellness in your business:

 

Retention Rates

Wellness has a significant impact on the retention of employees in the workplace. Employees are more likely to see themselves remain in long-term employ at a company that prioritizes wellness and company culture as part of their philosophy.

As a business having to replace employees is a high-cost and labor-intensive experience that is avoidable. The average company spends 50% of an entry-level employee’s annual salary replacing them, the cost increases for executive or management level personnel

Productivity

Healthier employees tend to be more productive. One 2017 study revealed that employee productivity improves by up to 5% – the equivalent to one full day of work a month – when their perception of wellness improves.

Conversely, employees who are disengaged and unproductive are reported to cost US companies $550 billion annually, as detailed in a report by the Engagement Institute

Competitiveness

When retention rates, productivity, and morale are high, it’s only natural to expect an increase in competitiveness. Not only do most of the top-performing companies report increased levels of satisfaction and wellbeing from their employees, but this is also confirmed according to a meta-analysis conducted by the World Economic Forum.

Head Hunting

Employee attraction is the key to ensuring your business is future-proof. As a business, your success depends on attracting premium talent.

Although there aren’t any official figures surrounding the effects of wellbeing on headhunting efforts, because working for a company where healthcare and wellness are priorities is advantageous to many workers, it’s reasonable to think that new talent will consider these aspects when choosing an employer.

 

How To Improve Your Company’s Approach To Work Wellness

 

Designate A Wellness Space

Your company’s wellness space should be a designated area away from the office bustle, where employees can go to recoup from illness or strain. The space should be – at the very least – 9 x 9 and should include furnishings that can be kept sterile but also enhance comfort. Consider using laminate for flooring and polyurethane for furnishings to ensure the area is easy to clean.

Using indirect light sources such as lamps and adding warmth to the room through the choice of color, warm or cool-toned neutrals – besides white – are ideal. The primary pieces that make up a wellness room are a reclining seat, a table, and storage for necessities like water.  However, you can consider improving the space with other furnishings and decor.

For example, you can make the room cozy by adding paintings, plants, and other calming pieces.

Hone In On Individual Employee Needs

Your employees’ needs will change during their time in your employ. One predictable change is motherhood. According to requirements laid out by the FLSA, employers are required to provide a space that is shielded from public view for nursing mothers to express milk, this space cannot be a bathroom. Beyond these basic requirements, this is a key opportunity to improve wellness by creating a comfortable, functional, and serene space. A haven for new mothers. In the same vein as a designated wellness space, the room should be comfortable and clean.

Consider Flexibility

Not only has the pandemic revealed how crucial flexibility is to the overall wellbeing of employees but it’s something workers have valued for some time. As more employees return to the office, consider keeping some of the positive workplace experiences. Creating a balanced environment, for example, by allowing employees to work within the office and from home, can be one way to incorporate flexibility into your workplace.

Prioritize Empathy

Besides all of the above criteria, the future of work wellness will depend on empathy, as discussed in Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2020. Senior management and middle management should be encouraged to be empathetic as animosity between employees and management, because of a lack of empathy, is attributed to 75% of avoidable resignations according to research by Gallup where they surveyed 1 million employees.

 

Ultimately, the future of work wellness lies in a delicate balance between physical and functional spaces and company culture. It’s by finding this balance that you’ll build a future-proof workplace.

 

To learn more about Rightsize Facility visit RightsizeFacility.com

The Future of Work

The future of work is human, collaborative and inspiring. Nine-plus months into the pandemic, the impact on our workplaces and corporate culture still remains to be seen. COVID-19 has caused us to ask ourselves, what is the future of work? How will we maintain our culture, core values, collaboration, and continue to do business? We also must consider how this has changed how we hire and retain talent, and what the new expectations and demands of the workforce will be. How do we continue to communicate with and empower our current teams?

It is no secret that remote work will continue to be prevalent. We need to reimagine the future workplace not as a large solitary corporate HQ, but as a network or ecosystem of spaces that are adaptable, cost-effective, and offer multiple work options for various styles of work. This is being commonly referred to as a “hub-and-spoke model,” in which companies allow employees to work from home, visit the core office for in-person meetings, and also have access to smaller offices closer to their homes. This allows employees to have shorter commutes and more collaboration opportunities than they get when working from home.

We need to empower people with options that fit their needs and address four primary concerns that are at the center of the future workspace discussion: health, safety & wellbeing; remote work vs. work from home (WFH); purpose of place; and Business Resiliency. To accomplish this, we need to design and build more agile environments and workspaces that can quickly and easily shift from fixed to fluid. We need to rethink the purpose of the space and its design and make a compelling case for enticing employees and clients to feel comfortable enough to return.

A recent CoreNet survey of office workers projected the amount of time each week they anticipate spending at each location:

  • Office: 47%
  • Home: 42%
  • Co-working: 13%
  • Other: 10%

We should be leveraging technology more efficiently to provide a streamlined user experience within the newly designed spaces, and taking every measure to focus on wellness, safety, and productivity. The spaces we design should cater to their occupants, rather than forcing occupants to adapt to the spaces themselves. We should also be considering shared spaces, as well as community spaces and amenity lounges, as additional areas for collaboration and for coming together to get business done.

Some of the business advantages of doing this include a reduced cost of rent with smaller, less expansive offices in central business districts as well as the potential to have more employees per sq. ft. in that real estate based on a lower anticipated daily occupancy. It also provides access to a greater talent pool and workspaces that can be designed to cater to your specific real estate needs. There are also advantages for your employees, including a greater work-life balance, reduced commute times, opportunities to choose from a wider variety of spaces and styles of working, and an overall better quality of life.

We need to embrace the opportunity we are currently being presented with. It’s the perfect time to re-create workspace design standards and develop ways of working that best address the disruption caused by the pandemic. As we begin 2021, we have a chance to rethink how to best serve clients, our partners, and our employees as we continue to evolve and innovate. We can’t think of a better way to start the new year!

For more information, contact Rightsize Facility here.

2021 Office Design Trends

Office design is about creating a productive, stress-free environment. As innovation in design continues to develop annual office design trends will reflect the most recent discoveries about an office environment that reflects this.  

This year, design trends center around two factors: younger labor and a global pandemic. These factors have changed the dynamics of office design and are most likely going to impact office spaces well into the future. If there ever was a time to upgrade an office design, now would be the time to do so.  

 

6 of the Best Office Design Trends to Emerge in 2021 

These design trends are the latest to emerge as a result of a changing workforce and corporate environment. These annual trends reflect what designers have discovered – over the past twelve months – about employee conduct concerning design. 

 

 1. Hominess 

The workforce is getting younger, and with that, a clear shift is being made to accommodate them. The most obvious shift is the inclusion of homey elements in office design, also known as resimercial. This design trend fuses commercial function with a residential aesthetic. Because millennials – who currently make up the largest generation in the labor force – are accustomed to working from home, the resimercial design is far more conducive to their work habits. 

The most prominent design features included in the hominess trend are faux pot plants, centerpiece rugs and chandeliers, and floor to ceiling curtains. The overall design closely resembles a residential living space while still having the function necessary for commercial use. 

 

2. Pivot Spaces & Design-Led Dividers 

The global pandemic is the catalyst to the most out-of-the-blue shift in design trends. Because at no point before the pandemic was social distancing and physical barriers a requirement for designers. Now the workforce is acutely aware of the virus, and the repercussions of a pandemic are etched into the collective consciousness of the public, physical barriers are essential. Not only are these design trends helpful to comply with CDC guidelines, but they have also put the mind of anxious employees at ease while ensuring that illness doesn’t spread in an office. 

The first trend to emerge as a result of the pandemic are pivot spaces. These are spaces that are easy to reconfigure. Currently, offices are using pivot spaces to create clusters of workstations or workstation neighborhoods. These neighborhoods insulate sound when employees are hosting remote meetings to ensure the call isn’t interrupted by background noise, and those around them are not interrupted by the meeting. 

The second trend to emerge is design-led dividers that make the division between employees and visitors more aesthetic. These dividers are still being fine-tuned to ensure they meet CDC guidelines and reduce the spread of droplets.  

 

3. Sustainability  

Yet another trend furthered by a younger workforce who acknowledge that businesses’ ethos are quintessential to their sense of belongingness and well being. Therefore, businesses are introducing or strengthening sustainable practices in their offices, including the use of energy-efficient lighting, water-saving fixtures, recycling, and storage for alternative transport to work such as bicycles and scooters. 

 

4. Use of Scents 

Offices are testing the use of scents on the productivity and creativity of their employees. While there isn’t much research surrounding the effectiveness of scents on physiological activity, some recent studies do reveal that there could be a connection. 

Popular scents for office spaces are coffee, cinnamon, and the aroma of fresh baked goods. These scents are relatively easy to implement in an office and – supposedly – have benefits ranging from creativity to peace of mind.  

However, this is a trend that requires caution, as you should also keep in mind that some employees may be sensitive to scents, and strong aromas could end up being more distracting than invigorating.  

 

5. Individuality 

It makes sense that another trend would surround millennial and Gen Z employees because in 2021, there will be far more Gen Z employees – who could be as old as 24 – in the workforce. 

Individuality is something younger employees resonate with. The old cookie-cutter office design is not something younger employees appreciate, usually leading to lower retention rates, more sick leave, and a decrease in productivity and overall well being. 

Offices are therefore encouraged to showcase the company’s ethos and individuality through the use of color, configuration, and interactive decor pieces. This individuality should also help create a connection between the employee and the company’s culture.  

 

6. Employee Design 

Plenty goes into creating an optimal workspace, but the most significant part of creating an office is that it benefits employees. Redesigning an office is also an opportune time to boost employee morale showing your employees how essential they are to the company. This trend requires that you first get feedback from employees about the changes they would like to see in the office. The feedback can be as simple as sending employees a poll and choosing design requests with the most votes.  

 

If you’re in two-minds about implementing the most recent design trends, you’re not alone. Trends are usually confused with fads. However, our list of trends is a concise look at what your business can do to increase competitiveness, secure talent, retain employees, and accelerate output. Because design is imperative to reach those goals. 2021 Office design trends are not limited to what is popular this year. Instead, they reflect a changing landscape and the latest progression in design. 

 

Contact Rightsize Facility here.

What Can Landlords/Owners Do to Re-Purpose Vacant Space?

Re-Purpose Vacant Space

What Can Landlords/Owners Do to Re-Purpose Vacant Space?

COVID-19 has hit the economy hard. When the economy is suffering everyone suffers and Landlords/Owners are no exception. There is an unprecedented number of vacant spaces on the market right now and no one quite knows what to do with them. Should you just rent your space to anyone who comes knocking, should you go for shorter leases? Or should you just ride it out till things get better? There are no right answers here but the most logical thing to do seems to be repurposing. But surely that is going to cost you a lot of money, well, not really. If you are smart about how you approach this task, you just might be able to get a desirable tenant without having to break the bank.

How can you re-purpose?

Landlords and leasing agents should consider building out and furnishing vacant spaces that meet new guidelines for risk mitigation of COVID. Many companies will not have the capital to construct spaces and will seek to add those costs to their leases, rather than spend dollars up front.

This is where landlords can step in and add these services at a building or portfolio level. Short-term, the need for on-going physical distancing means that most vacant space is being repurposed to allow occupiers to spread out and keep office density low. Long-term, as many occupiers contract their space, we predict that these vacancies will be transformed into multi-tenant amenity spaces or coworking spaces.

Invest in GOOD DESIGN – which is a balanced approach considering the ECONOMY, ENVIRONMENT AND QUALITY OF LIFE. Before embarking on a design solution, a landlord should consider creating a DESIGN STRATEGY across properties. This includes developing a narrative and character for each property that makes it more desirable than other offerings in the area.

We’ve seen a resurgence in build-out of short-term spec suites with a more socially distanced office arrangement

Companies will need to create space for employees who may be remote but still coming in from time to time. If the office is the place where collaboration is meant to thrive, the space and design must support it.

All in all, repurposing your vacant space is more of an eventuality than a choice. It best to stay ahead of the curve and repurpose your vacant spaces now.

Contact us to accelerate the leasing process with cost-effective turnkey furniture solutions.

Contactless Technology Return To The Office

To better prepare for the return to work, it helps to have keen insight into re-entry anxiety: what causes it, what exacerbates it, and how common re-entry anxiety will be in your office.

Re-entry anxiety is the term used to describe the fear employees experience when returning to work during COVID-19. It’s a new term, but its effects are very real and its grip on employees is overwhelming. One way to reduce re-entry anxiety is to make use of contactless technology as a core element for your return to work strategy.

 

Shift Focus

 

Now that you – and your employees – better understand the sanitation requirements involved in stopping the spread, you can shift your focus to adapting smart mechanisms of safekeeping. Doing this will give your COVID-19 protocols greater longevity.

Smart mechanisms indicate the use of technology to help prevent – or at the very least – minimize the spread of COVID-19. It is through these smart mechanisms, or contactless tech, that you’re better able to maintain the recent changes to office protocols.

Additionally, you reduce the stress of remembering several different safety protocols by simplifying the process through gamification.

It’s always good to remember that tech makes work feel more convenient. Therefore, you can use that same sense of support your employees receive from their smart home improvements to create a smart office.

 

Identify High-Risk Areas

 

To ensure your contactless tech is useful, it needs to be purposeful. Accordingly, for your return to work strategy, identify your high risk or high traffic areas.

By identifying your high-risk areas and items, you simplify the search to find tech that can adapt to your office’s current needs.

Meeting rooms can be high risk, elevators are high traffic, common areas are both high risk and high traffic. Any place where employees can either meet or will share items has the potential of becoming a high-risk area.

Once you’re equipped with a list of the high-risk and high traffic areas within your office you need to find contactless tech that reduces that risk or diminishes it entirely.

 

Contactless Technology To Use In Your Office

 

Now that you’re adapting to your new normal, and finding tech to replace items or upgrade sections that could be high-risk, this is a list of contactless technology you should look to implement first.

 

Remote-Use Technology

Most communal appliances like coffee machines, vending machines, or printers are high-risk because they require frequent handling to operate. You can eliminate handling by enabling remote-use technology. Remote-use technology enables employees to access the equipment from an app or employer-issued device.

If touching is unavoidable, consider the use of individual stylus pens to control touch screen communal items.

 

Access Control

The access points throughout your office are another high-risk area. Having to enter a pin on a keypad that could have been touched by someone who may be infectious can exacerbate re-entry anxiety.

Therefore, you can reduce re-entry anxiety and increase safety by making access control to spaces within your building reliant on digital badges. These digital badges communicate with access controls throughout your office. To emphasize safety, you can require employees to conduct a self-assessment of their health to gain access to the space.

 

Wayfinding

Because fewer employees will be in the office on any given day, the need for designated desks could be redundant. Wayfinding technology can display in real-time which desks and meeting areas are available and enables employees to book, check, and track the flow of the office without requiring any physical contact. You can also allow employees to interact with your wayfinding tech through a remote application that syncs with the public system.

 

Conference Room Relay

Using a proximity beacon, employees gain access to meetings they are attending. Conference room relay systems work by connecting calendars, conference room systems, and the designated app, to enable a contactless meeting and give hands-free access to the meeting rooms systems.

 

In conclusion, you can divide re-entry anxiety into two categories:

     Employees who are anxious about getting COVID-19 and

     Employees who feel anxious because of the countless protocols and isolation brought about by COVID-19.

The one thing that has united us, even during a global pandemic, is tech. Technology has the means to make us connect while we social distance. Tech has the means to keep us entertained without us leaving our homes, and tech has the means to make your office safer without your employees feeling as though they’re living under a draconian law, and in the process reducing re-entry anxiety.


Download the Return to Work Playbook for more ways to reduce re-entry anxiety.