Companies have started thinking about how to accommodate the employees returning to the office, as certain restrictions such as social distancing imposed during COVID-19 pandemic will still remain in place for the months to come. This means the beginning of a new role and function of the workplace as we know it.
In this article, we will highlight some of the aspects to take into consideration when preparing your workplace and workforce to return working from the office.
The current developments will most likely change office space as we know it for the future. The current global working-from-home experiment has proven that employees do not need to physically be at the office to be working, combining work-from-home with working in the office will become more common than ever before.
In order for employees to return back to the office safer and happier, companies will need to provide their employees with an environment that will guarantee good health and safety. This means that offices as we know them might need to be re-designed and equipped for the future to meet new sanitary and well-being requirements. Next to that sustainability fits fully in these new considerations.
Meet the new 6-feet office
One of the many implications and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic is that social distancing in the workplace will become the new norm, and companies will need to reconfigure their office spaces with the new “6-feet rule” in mind.
One example is the 6-Feet Office Project concept from Cushman & Wakefield that offers rules to enable and facilitate the implementation of the safe six-feet distance for increased employee safety. The companies that implement these rules will be able to accelerate the return of their employees to the offices.
This requirement for the 6-feet distance between employees impacts on individual seating arrangements, common meeting areas, shared spaces like cafeterias and also individual and team storage spaces.
Using smart lockers to enforce a 6-feet office space
Reconfigurations of workspaces require an equally smart locker management system that can keep up with the changing environment. Sharing office workstations in open-space offices means that employees must be able to easily store their personal items. And when employees work in various places in the building, it is important that they have storage space close to their temporary workplace.
A dynamic locker system such as that of Vecos can help you assign employees fixed, shared and flexible lockers. The idea behind a dynamic system is that locker management can be adjusted to the specific situation, wishes and requirements in your company.
1. Enable crowd management and nudge behaviour
When it comes to COVID-19, the higher the number of people, the higher the risk. Large volumes of employees returning to a shared workplace represents a huge risk for the spreading and contracting of viruses. Therefore, managing the number of workers will be critical to protecting workplace health.
The Vecos smart locker management system enables the management of large crowds of people who, for example, collect their personal belongings from their locker during their lunch break or at the end of the day, resulting in a concentration of people in a specific place in the office. Using very specific functions, facility managers can set up simple rules that will allow employees to keep the required safe distance from one another when using lockers. This perfectly fits within the 6-feet office concepts.
To spread locker users across several floors in the office, the Vecos locker system provides innovative functionalities like ”pre-allocated ranges”. With preconfigured 6-feet distances, the system then automatically directs users to specific lockers, ensuring they don’t get too close to each other. This results in the spread of people across the office floor and enables employees to maintain a 6-feet distance. Another big advantage is when employees operate their locker remotely via their phone, but then notice somebody close to their locker (for example when going home), they can wait and maintain a safe distance while the locker remains closed. The locker does not pop open and automatically relocks.
The video below perfectly illustrates the way lockers can be allocated while keeping the required distance between them:
2. Maintain clean and hygienic storage spaces
Employers need to ensure that employees can work in a safe environment, and take care of all kind of facilities and cleaning products that will help encourage the cleaning of common spaces frequently. The Vecos smart lockers are in this sense a sustainable and 100% hygienic solution that can help maintain clean workplaces.
The Vecos terminal works fully contactless, limiting the risk of contamination. Interaction on the terminal is not required. An alternative is the use of a personal smartphone to open assigned locker. Via the locker software platform, facility managers can easily keep track which lockers are in use and which are available for cleaning or make complete locker banks available for cleaning. Another crucial feature that can be used to enforce guidelines, is informing users. The Vecos system has the option to send notifications to the users, for instance, to remind them that they need to release their locker to make it available for cleaning.
Another standard feature provided is to make lockers available for cleaning first after (automatic) release before making them available again to other employees.
Preparing for the new office reality
One thing we all know for sure is that when returning to the office, one of the short-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the social distancing enforced through the 6-feet office. Once ramped up and with dynamic and flexible working becoming the new normal, companies will need to find long-term solutions to accommodate their employees to work anywhere and ensure their safety and well-being, while also continuing operating their business in the most effective way possible. In today’s business and economic environment, uncertainty and volatility have become the new normal.
This is why companies need to be able to continuously innovate and invest in long-term solutions and create a mindset to help them adapt quickly to new circumstances, without undermining their short-term financial performance.
Vecos has been developing smart locker software for more than 20 years, ensuring that companies can make optimal use of their workplace. This software helps companies to work more flexibly, for example by allowing employees to use lockers independently at any location in the workplace without requiring facility management to be physically present to manage the lockers.
The Vecos software provides a self-service solution including the possibility for “6-feet office” business rules. The software is intuitive, easy to use, time-saving and means less hassle for facility management.
This technology fits well with modern workplace strategies such as agile or activity related work. With our software, we support companies in the transformation to a new working style.