Adapting to be relevant in an economy with remote workplaces19th May 2020
The COVID-19 lockdowns across the globe have brought about a confluence of forces around the business environment – forcing companies to restructure and redefine the way they do business. They need to adopt new strategies to improve security protocols to better manage and deal with the pandemic.
These lockdowns are dramatically fuelling changes in the way in which we work and structure our workforce. Without a doubt, we will see a big shift from physical office-bound work to remote work models. Where functions can be performed virtually, we will begin to see a move towards virtual offices or working from home models.
To adapt to these trends and developments, facilities management companies need to embrace various concepts of alternative work strategies to remain relevant to both clients and employees.
We have already seen some companies working smarter by rolling out their digital tools and systems and virtual teamwork models. Some aspects of the work from the home model can bring cost-saving benefits to clients and they should be considered for those businesses that have found that during this period these models can in fact work.
While there are some reservations around working remotely – particularly concerning the issues of retaining the values and culture of a company, managing performance and teamwork – working remotely equally presents opportunities for forward-thinking businesses that embrace virtual workspaces with an open mindset.
• Working remotely will reduce the amount of workspace required by businesses and in turn reduce overheads
• Hot desks can be set up to accommodate those working from home if they need to be in the office
• Smart space planning can be explored to optimise the use of available office space
While virtual workspaces cannot be applied universally, they present opportunities especially for small businesses to cut down on costs and energy usage, to optimise smart space planning concepts and to holistically explore other future solutions for driving productivity and improving the work experience.
It must be noted that this may not be simple arithmetic, as business strategic objectives must be considered holistically, including the culture and values of business. This may not work for certain industries such as manufacturing, transport and logistics; but aspects of it can work for sure. It may not work for essential service personnel as we have seen, but there is a definite case for some strategic positions to move to working virtually.
With the digital transformation strategies in place, smart building infrastructure and management systems, security technologies, cleaning technologies, water and energy management technologies can be improved by leveraging tech innovations for space and workforce planning; and businesses can still achieve high performance.
While virtual office solutions are enablers for business improvement, productivity, travel cost savings and associated carbon footprint reduction these solutions pose a significant threat to commercial real estate business.
Perhaps, this could be an opportune time to examine space planning for improved real estate efficiency, better space optimisation, and improved operational cost savings to achieve better functionality.