Making our way back to the workplace will take planning, brainstorming, acting, and reacting.
What your company doesn’t need is this process taking too much of your time and money. So, we are here to help.
AgilQuest’s SaaS, Cloud-based Forum Platform resolves many of the challenges COVID-19 creates when re-occupying office space. You can leverage our “Back to the WorkplaceTM” Solution to Plan, Execute, Measure/Monitor, and Optimize new workplace processes to keep your employees safe, now and into the future.
With the White House’s Guidelines to Opening Up America Again, we will see a return to the office in phases. Only essential “in-office” employees will be returning to work for phase one. But how do you instate social/physical distancing practices as employees head back to the office?
· Partition and Stagger: Assigned Workspaces – Partition the workforce and assign groups of employees to certain groups of workspaces. Schedule attendance by staggering the occupancy days for each group to ensure you don’t overpopulate the office while maintaining social /physical distancing guidelines.
Shared Workspaces – Perform the same partition and stagger strategy, but instead of assigning seats, to provide people with the flexibility to choose available spaces from an allocated group of workspaces that are preset to be physically distant from each other.
· Social / Physical Distancing: Limit accessibility to workspaces based on physical layout. Closed workspaces may be assigned or shared next to each other. Open floor plan workspaces may require adjacencies to be removed from platform availability. Seating may be dynamically assigned such that booking one seat may automatically remove adjacent seats from availability.
· WFH (Work from Home): Incorporate home-based telework as just another place for people to work in your network of spaces. Indicate use and verify presence for the home office using the platform, so that location can be traced in case of COVID-19 positive tests. Everyone knows where teams and colleagues are located.
· Trace and Verify: In the event an employee tests positive for COVID-19, trace and verify who came into the office and when, where they sat, who sat nearby, and with whom did they have meetings.
· Contact-less: Avoid all the touch screen panels on conference rooms and workspaces via a combination of posted QR codes on rooms and the Forum mobile app QR Code reader. Book and verify presence at the room using your own phone as “digital sign.”
· Measure Presence and Utilization: Your workplace processes will continually evolve over time as the world makes progress against COVID-19. Start now to measure actual presence by employees and actual utilization of assets to have all the data needed to manage the follow-on phases of re-occupancy.
· Compliance: Support compliance with the various Administrative Controls guidelines from OSHA that should be implemented as part of re-occupying the office.
· Low Cost: Enjoy all this functionality inexpensively to reduce costs and conserve cash while keeping people employed and safe.
[Related Article: Back to the Workplace in a Covid-19 World; One Possible, Practical Process]
You can easily execute the necessary staggering and physical distancing of employees and workspaces as they get back to the workplace using Forum, AgilQuest’s Workplace Management System, as shown below:
1. Only allow certain workspaces to be reserved. If you have many cubicles side by side, creating a 6-foot bubble around one before allowing another to be used will help with physical distancing.
This floorplan shows green circles for available offices and gray triangles for unavailable offices.
If you want to create office spaces that are unavailable on certain days or to certain people, you can do that, too.
2. Group employees for certain workdays and workspaces. By putting employees into groups like A, B, or C, and only allowing Group A in on Mondays and Tuesdays or only allowing them to use floor one, and so on for the other groups, is an easy way to create physical distancing of workspaces and employees.
For example, if you are part of Group A, who can work in the office on Mondays and Tuesdays and on a certain side of the building, only the available spaces that fall under those criteria will be available to you. As seen in the images below:
Business rules, like groups and policies, can be changed and updated to follow along with your office setting, what works and what doesn’t, and the different phases of the Open America Again Policy.
3. Remove the need for additional touching. For now, and for the safety of your employees, touchscreens are out. But what’s the alternative? Using a QR code outside each conference room or workspace will allow employees to reserve the space with their cellphones without needing to touch any additional surfaces.
4. Offer a mobile app for employees to easily secure their workspace. Having access to an intuitive, workspace reservation app, gives employees the ability to reserve their physically distanced workspace before they get into the office. They’ll be able to reserve the workspaces available to them from home or the office and they can easily secure a workspace instantly with their app and a workspaces QR code.
5. Create Dynamic Spacing. Dynamic Spacing ensures employees will stay at least 6 feet apart from each other.
When an employee reserves a workspace, as seen in the first picture, the workspaces surrounding it become unavailable to other employees, as seen in the bottom picture. Ensuring employees are working at workspaces that keep physical distance between them.
This quick video highlights the 5 ways you can physically distance your office to make the return a safe one.
There are a couple of reasons why monitoring what your office and employees are doing is important as you make your way back to the workplace.
- Knowing who sat where and when and who they interacted with is necessary information especially if any of your employees found themselves sick in the days after being at the office.
- Knowing which office spaces and conference rooms are being used most often makes it so you know 1) where cleaning services need to focus on and 2) what office spaces are available to use for the next phase of employees or what conference rooms can be repurposed for other uses.
Forum offers two tracer reports that fill those needs entirely plus a plethora of other reports for going forward.
The newest report, Individual Asset Use & Presence, shows:
- when a person’s been in the office,
- what workspaces and conference rooms they used,
- whether they actually checked into those workspaces
- and other individuals who worked closely with them.
Another report available, the Person Presence by Location report, provides a full list of who came into the building on a certain day or date range.
Make sure you are gathering the data immediately so you can make ongoing decisions about how employees should be spaced or staggered, and to assist in alerting others of potential contact with positive COVID-19 test results.
[Related Article: Back to the Workplace Use Cases]
It’s our goal to help you comply with OSHA’s new back to the workplace guidelines. You can find the full OSHA guide here.
Using the above information, setting up your office for physical distancing, and having the reports to keep everything managed, in order, and optimized, will get you through the different phases of getting back to the workplace and help you get to the “new normal.”
Have additional questions or want guidance going forward? Contact us and we will help you get back to the workplace.
Additional Resources for Getting Back to the Workplace
Remote work won’t kill your office: September 22, 2020, Axios
Ranks of mobile workers to swell to 93.5 million by 2024 amid move to remote work, says IDC: September 1, 2020, ZDNet
Why landlords are teaming up with flex space operators: August 24, 2020, JLL
The Office Is Not Dead – Just Evolving – and Definitely Here to Stay: July 7, 2020, NREI
How US companies are planning for a safe return to the workplace: June 26, 2020, McKinsey & Company
What’s Next? Securing the New Age of Government Telework: May 28, 2020, MeriTalk
Amid COVID-19, Let’s Rethink Workplace Flexibility: May 8, 2020, Gallup
Welcome Back to the Office. Your Every Move Will Be Watched.: May 5, 2020, The Wall Street Journal
More big employers are talking about permanent work-from-home positions: May 1, 2020, CNBC
NY Will Hire Contact Tracing ‘Army’ Of 17,000 To Battle Coronavirus, Cuomo Says: April 30, 2020, Forbes
Safe Work Playbook: April 27, 2020, Lear
Offices, work sites, employees roles to be reconfigured post COVID-19, say CFOs: April 26, 2020, ZDNet
WILL PHYSICAL DISTANCING BE THE END OF THE OFFICE?: April 23, 2020, WSP
Why contact tracers are key to unlocking economy: April 18, 2020, The Hill
Large Corporations Could Bring Office Employees Back In Waves: April 15, 2020, Bisnow
Growth in DOD Telework Capability May Outlive Coronavirus Pandemic: April 13, 2020, DOD News
Will the open office die following COVID-19 pandemic?: April 13, 2020, ZDNET
What Will Tomorrow’s Workplace Bring? More Elbow Room, for Starters: April 7, 2020, The New York Times
CFOs looking to make remote work, telecommuting more permanent following COVID-19: April 6, 2020, ZDNet
What will be the Future of the Office?: April 2020, OPX Global
Commercial real estate must do more than merely adapt to coronavirus: April 2020, McKinsey & Company
Developing A Positive Emotional Culture During Times Of Change: March 26, 2020, Work Design Magazine
Opening Up American Again: The White House