“New Normal” for workspaces in India after COVID-19
The corporate workspace is changing and reconfiguring itself as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As lockdown measures are being relaxed in India and many corporates are returning to their offices, they are taking steps to make the work environment safer. Companies are adopting higher standards of health and safety measures and upgrading themselves technologically for a flexible working setup. Most importantly, they are focusing on cost savings to strike a balance between people’s wellness and business economics.
A recent JLL report, ‘(re)entry: A guide for working in the next normal’, highlights how to reactivate and revitalise the workplace operations for an effective and successful re-entry.
Meanwhile, office developers and occupiers in India are taking proactive steps to ensure that the workplace is safe, comfortable and ready for employees to return. Some of these steps include:
- Sanitising and disinfecting before reopening: Occupiers are going for a thorough sanitisation of workplaces to make them safe before employees return. Robust cleaning protocols are in place post-opening, including the disinfecting of lifts, lobbies, parking and other common areas.
- Staggered return: Corporates have developed strategies for phased re-entry, considering various parameters, such as the building location, government guidelines and business requirements. For instance, allowing only 5%-15% of the workforce in phase one and extending it to 25%-30% in phase two, depending upon the situation.
- Temperature scanning: Temperature scanning of all employees and visitors at the entry point to prevent unwell people from entering the building. It is also mandatory for employees to wear masks.
- Workstation plan: Workstations/seats are arranged in a manner to maintain safe distancing. Companies are now planning to allocate more space for each employee which may also involve changes in layout, designing and de-densification. However, cost savings also need to be considered with efficient planning so that the real estate cost does not increase.
- Social distancing: Measures, such as restricting the number of people in the lift or in meeting rooms, spreading cafeteria layouts, floor walking guides, and staggered lunch timings, are in place. However, when more employees resume office, there will be a need to manage congestion and save time at high traffic areas such as elevator lobbies.
- Doing away with social distancing disruptors: High–touch items, such as biometric attendance systems, have been discontinued. Sanitisers with touch-free mechanism are available at all entry and exit points. Also, while measures are undertaken to manage high-touch points such as coffee/tea/water dispenser, employees are encouraged to use their personal cutlery/mugs.
- Use of technology: Technology and advanced analytics that can monitor occupancy levels and seating planning will play a crucial role in re-establishing working practices and meeting the changing needs of workplaces. It will facilitate better-informed decisions towards space utilisation, optimising air quality and effective asset management.
As firms get ready to reopen, they need to ensure that the workplace environment is safe and comfortable for their employees. Moreover, the re-entry is not a one-time process but is spread over multiple phases and demands continuous monitoring of guidelines to avoid any disruptions. In such circumstances, data becomes pertinent for everyone preparing for the ‘new normal’.