Amid the Coronavirus pandemic, many organisations are now reviewing the way their employees work under a ‘new normal’, with flexible hours and working from home as standard wherever possible.
This will inevitably lead to a reduction in office space, smaller satellite offices set up nearer to employees' homes, and more organisations signing up with shared workspace providers.
It’s increasingly likely that organisations will only bring their employees into the office when it’s absolutely needed and on a rota basis, which means that there is no longer a need for large office floors to accommodate everyone's desks. Whilst it makes more sense for each employee to still have their own desk for their own equipment and personal possessions they may leave at the office so that nothing is shared and their desk is essentially their own ‘bubble’, it makes no sense financially for an organisation to have vast office space with only a few employees coming in each day just to preserve their own desk space.
It has also been increasingly popular over recent years for companies to encourage hot-desking, especially in expensive commercial property areas such as London and New York. However UK government advice has stated the following:
Workstations should be assigned to an individual and not shared. If sharing must be done, it should be among “the smallest possible number of people’’. Employers will usually need to be “avoiding use of hot desks”. If that is impossible in, say, a call centre or training area, then any shared desk or equipment should be cleaned before anyone else starts using it.
This guidance is hard to ignore especially when pre-Coronavirus, many relatively new office spaces were specifically designed to accommodate hot-deskers across large floor space.
With the pandemic shaking up how and where workers spend their days, it seems most aren’t in a rush to head back to the office. At least not for a full five days a week, in most cases. A recent study found that 47% of newly remote workers would prefer to continue working from home between one and four days each week, while 40% want to stay home every day and just 14% prefer the office. But when it comes to whether working from home lends itself to both productivity and creativity, experts remain divided.
So how can hot-desking still carry on safely?
Assigning of equipment Making sure employees are only using one piece of equipment such as a laptop or tablet rather than a shared desktop computer is a step in the right direction. Therefore sharing of the workspace can be limited to just desks and seating areas which can be easily sanitised. Consider device-charging smart lockers, which can assign a specific laptop each time to the same employee to avoid sharing.
Secure storage It can be very easy to quickly borrow a pen or stapler from someone else's desk without thinking, but this can lead to spread of contaminants incredibly quickly. Employees may also bring in personal possessions such as bags which have been carried on public transport which may be risking pathogens being brought into the office environment. Therefore, when an employee is in the office, they need secure, assigned locker or storage space for their own items so that contamination of the office is minimised, plus their assigned office equipment such as stationery or their laptop can be stored away easily for their next visit into the office without anyone else using it.
Sanitation and cleansing Consider distributing hand sanitisers and sanitation wipes to each employee and ensure that cleaning protocols are in place, asking them to wipe down desk, chair handles and anything else they have been in touch with once they leave their desk for the day, with perhaps a chart to track 'who used the desk last'.
Phone app reminders and intranet alerts There are some great apps currently on the market which can remind staff to regularly sanitise their work stations and to wash their hands. Many organisations can also implement reminders into their company intranet system as well.
‘Super-loos’ Many offices are investing in re-designing their toilet space to now have self-contained cubicles including a toilet, sink, soap and hand-dryer so that cross contamination of multiple surfaces are minimised in shared toilet space. Make sure to increase your cleaning protocols in toilet space as well.
Other things to consider are reducing access to shared kitchen space, and introducing a rota system for staff in the office to create 'work bubbles'.
WEC Group have also developed an innovative new range of foot operated hand sanitising dispensers which will play a key role in the COVID-19 pandemic by making workplaces safer for both staff and visitors: https://www.wec-group.com/news/hand-sanitisers.html
How iLockerz can help you bring employees back safely
At iLockerz, our intelligent locker systems can help you configure your work spaces to adapt to the 'new normal'. Our versatile locker systems can help you evolve, whilst safely encouraging workers back into office space.
In shared, flexible office space our lockers can be used to allocate specific storage for workers personal items, valuables, electronic devices and paperwork at the end of their day so that desk space can be properly sanitised and used by someone else. Our lockers can also be used to vend electronic devices such as laptops and tablets to specific staff members on a repeat basis to avoid cross-contamination and our patented UV-C light cleaning technology can be incorporated into each locker to also ensure full sanitisation of the contents.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch.
By Hannah Al-Khaldi Sales & Marketing Coordinator at iLockerz My background is management, sales, business growth and development, and marketing, with experience in both boutique, start-up and corporate sectors. Identifying and implementing solutions to problems is my passion!