Can anyone really win from a global pandemic? If we truly understand the extent of this crisis, the answer is always no. COVID-19 is fundamentally tragic.
However, the reality is that there will be a time post-lockdown where businesses will have to return to some sort of ‘evolved normality’. The UK Government hinted that that day may not be too far away by sharing its draft post-lockdown workplace guidance yesterday. Assuming that we heed the warnings against complacency and a second peak, businesses may begin to return to the workplace in the next month.
I’ve spoken with a number of companies over the past couple of weeks who are now putting much more thought to their return to work plans. One of the biggest questions they are asking is: ‘which technologies might best support that process?’
By no means an exhaustive list, here are my suggestions for a few technologies that will prove absolutely vital over the coming 12 months:
- Access control — contactless entry
- Workplace communication/information sharing tools
- Geolocation/location analytics
The final service area which will prove critically important is that of smart property management or space optimisation.
The use of different services and facilities will change dramatically post-lockdown. A building that formerly housed 2,000 workers each day won’t suddenly return to full capacity. We will see the steady, incremental return of employees — perhaps 25% in the first month, 50% the next and so on. We may see companies introduce work-from-home Fridays, meaning whole floors will still be empty on particular days.
So how do you provide services at an appropriate level to the workforce currently in your building? Having all the heaters and lights on at a pre-COVID-19 level is not only inefficient, it’s expensive and bad for the environment. The buildings that will best manage the return to work transition will be those that have systems in place to measure who is in the building (access control), and seamlessly adjust the services and utilities accordingly.
Space optimisation technologies that show how many people are working in which area, and which workspaces are available to use at a safe distance from others, will also be critical. Having workers queue for 20 minutes to tell them where they can and can’t sit is once again inefficient and potentially hazardous in and of itself. Instant information about how space is being used will ensure safety and efficiency in the transition.
Do you have easy access to data displaying energy usage? Do you have systems in place to measure usage of particular areas of a building? Do you know how many people are coming through your doors in week 1 and week 50? If not, the next 12 months will prove an enormous logistical challenge. If yes, you’ll be in the best position to make decisions based on the changing landscape in front of you, safeguard your tenants and provide the most efficient workplace possible.
More coming on the other vital service areas in our next blog!