Blending workplace services for the hybrid working week

The pace of change in commercial offices has been unprecedented. In fact, it was the outright ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces and workplaces in 2007 that was the last major rethink the UK’s facilities managers and landlords had to address.

Fast forward two decades and the commercial workspace is undergoing another major rethink as we are thrust into countering one of the biggest public health threats the world has ever faced, the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the drawn-out decision to ban smoking in the workplace, actions to counter the growth of Coronavirus have been swift, globally decisive and have led to a wealth of changes in lifestyles and the workplace.

Just as smoking enforced a new regime, COVID-19 has been a catalyst to reinventing the workplace with technology jettisoning us to work from anywhere as we adapt to our socially distanced lifestyles. Technology and the new hybrid working week is bringing about a changed mindset and new ways of doing things. Working from anywhere may be the new norm, yet the significance of a central office is heightened for today’s digitised workforce. After all, corporate values still need to be instilled to ensure that all employees spread across the UK’s net are working towards the same goals. While distance is good for slowing the virus there’s a realisation that remote working can erode shared corporate values, inter-departmental work behaviours and creativity. As a consequence, workplaces have had to adapt at breakneck speed to provide safe environments for employees who may choose to return to their desk in search of a more hybrid working week.

This has led to significant changes in the facilities management model where formerly delineated services have become blended and are now pointing towards better guest experiences. Bennett Hay is leading the charge for a blended services model amongst clients like Landsec, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, Here East and Storey Club by British Land with a series of new operating efficiencies. At many of its sites, employees have been redeployed and encouraged to multitask between core departmental responsibilities to offer a blend of services and procedures that also provide for catering & hospitality, mailroom, and reprographics. Examples include reception, hosting and security services now falling under one remit and creating savings on headcount and the fixed costs associated with a 24/7 service. Significantly, the service is also registered by Security Industry Authority (SIA) and has proven to be a clear winner in the emergent post-Covid office.

Reflecting the need for distanced environments Bennett Hay is turning to technology to help create trackable workplace experiences that marry the health and safety requisites of office environments with today’s employee driven approach to the hybrid working week.

Companies have not only had to address their technology to facilitate the working from anywhere scenario, they’ve also had to amp their onsite Apps and to give their workforces peace of mind. The digitisation of meeting room availability and booking desk space is now a requisite that regulates headcount to ensure numbers are safely capped in the workspace for those who want to return to a new normal. Apps and tech also allow for a more curated experience when visiting the office; an experience on par with a private members club or hotel stay where the entire day is managed from time of arrival, allocated space to food and beverage requirements. The applications also help with track and trace and the wider creation of a touch-less environment by a new interface for digital access, booking, ordering and payments. Outside the centralised environment, the Apps can also be called upon to help with employee engagement at virtual events and for learning & development scenarios.

Employees are in the driving seat for the return to the office as they take into consideration transportation, childcare, trust in society and their co-workers. Therefore, for workplace professionals the watchwords have been revised to #flexibility and #efficiency, watchwords that have driven new productivities by blending services and addressing the big corporate culture rethink.

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