Since the lockdown in March, the workplace in the office has quite a new look. Some companies have gone fully remote, while others return cautiously to the office. The new reality demands an inevitable evolution. Let's examine five trends.
The return to the office has been different for every company since COVID-19 took control of the world. Everybody chooses their own timing, but there is no doubt that the office environment also needs to evolve along with these changes. Workplaces need additional space, perhaps even a turnaround to work in the office from now on?
A lot of companies embrace the new way of working and consider moments in the office as a significant social component. Collaboration between colleagues evolves with larger spaces where you can sit with the necessary distance from each other. Video conferencing with colleagues working at home is also indispensable today.
In order to analyse the evolution of the workplace and the office, we are meeting Kris Spruyt, general manager at BIS|Econocom Belux, part of the Econocom-group. He illustrates five obvious trends which manifested themselves over recent months.
The new normal requires a distance of at least 1m50 between colleagues, more is even better. This makes it necessary for companies to adapt the office layout, on the one hand, and to work with bubbles or a rotation, on the other hand. There is, in fact, a good chance that a 100% office occupancy or capacity will no longer be possible. “A new trend is the reservation of your workplace by means of a digital tool”, explains Spruyt. “This can happen beforehand or on sight on a large touch screen. Each desk becomes a flex place that you can book for several hours, half a day or an entire working day. Thus you avoid that the number of employees exceeds the available workplaces.”
During the lockdown a lot of companies had to refocus rapidly to make teleworking possible. Video conferencing became the standard, but the gradual return to the office does not make that trend disappear. Talking to each other through video is a keeper that obliges current meeting rooms to keep on evolving. Each room without a video solution is a lost room. “Employees bring their own device to the meeting room and want to connect it by means of a wire or wireless (Barco Clickshare CX) to an AV installation to use Teams, WebEx or Zoom.
We call it BYOM, Bring Your Own Meeting”, clarifies Spruyt chuckling. Because not everyone is in the office, meetings are often a mixture of teleworkers and office workers and so video has become standard practice. Nowadays all spaces or rooms, either small or tall, need an AV installation with a screen, camera and microphone. The larger the room, the more sophisticated the material. The popular huddle room that was a fast-growing trend before COVID-19, is evolving to a meeting room for one single person where you can calmly hold a video conference.
The business-critical aspect of video conferencing requires tools that can manage and monitor everything. Are the meeting rooms optimally used? Is video used more at home than in the office? How many people are there on average in a meeting? All these questions can be answered by monitoring tools. The demand is growing in order to provide better support to employees when there is something wrong with their video stream, when there is a lack of available video conference rooms or problems when connecting a laptop. A solid tool processes all these data via analytics into important and precious insights enabling you to get started.
Due to the continuously evolving regulations on COVID-19, a rapid and crystal clear communication towards all employees is more important than ever. The classical screens in companies showing the weather forecast or the daily menu in the cafeteria must be used for clear communication. “Such messages should be communicated rapidly throughout the entire company. Thus digital signage plays a significant role”, specifies Spruyt.
Lastly, the virtual receptionist gains in popularity, according to him. “Nowadays only few visitors come across the company floor as well as less own staff. The reception is evolving to a virtual version where the visitor receives a meeting invite with a QR code you can scan. Then the badge rolls out of the printer and the person in the office is automatically informed by e-mail, phone or chat message.” All these trends often require major investments and this is the sticking point for many companies. A lot of companies have been forced to rely on their own reserves in order to survive or there is no more budget because previously specific COVID-related hardware had to be purchased to work at home. Therefore financing is on the rise.
According to Spruyt, in 2019, approximately 10% of the solutions have been rolled out in a leasing or renting model. Now the percentage has reached 25 or even 30%. Thanks to this flexibility companies can allocate their reserves for other things and meanwhile revamp the office to adapt to the new normal.