21 May The new workplace frontier, a fresh approach
The new workplace frontier, a fresh approach
Sydney office workers are beginning to return in larger numbers to the CBD as Government restrictions continue to ease, but one thing is clear; things aren’t the same.
COVID-19 has instigated an almost unprecedented shake-up of workplaces and work habits across the globe.
Gone are the communal water coolers and shared lunch-meeting sandwich platters. Gone are the closely positioned desks maximising the number of workers on an open-plan office floor. Gone are the friendly handshakes that often kicked-off a meeting.
The new workplace normal
Rowena Young, Director of Flexispace, a Sydney CBD flexible term office space, has focussed on implementing physical, operational and structural changes in their Martin Place location to reflect the new workplace normal.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the shared responsibility we as individuals have to each other and the elevated health and safety role of the workplace. Through harnessing technology and process improvements, we have redesigned how individuals can access and engage within their workplace, in a touch-less, and more hygienic mode. Restoring human interaction to the workplace is key, and is the anchor guiding our vigilant efforts to transform physical, operational and structural elements of our space,” Ms Young said.
Changes in protocols at Flexispace’s Martin Place office include:
✔️ Temperature testing on arrival
✔️ Reduced contact points, verging on a contactless experience
✔️ Additional hand sanitiser stations
✔️ Sneeze guards installed at desks
✔️ Signage to reflect the new capacity limits and social distancing protocols
✔️ Increased cleaning and sanitisation measures.
A shift in workplace habits
According to Lenny Beaudoin of CBRE, recently quoted in an Australian Financial Review article; “Adapting to new habits will be jarring, but workers will shift the way they did after September 11 when heightened security procedures that slowed entry went from annoying to normal. Dealing with inconveniences and delays brought on by coronavirus safety measures will also become a habit.”
Home and office, the lines are blurred
During the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has been widely adopted and embraced by many professionals, but there is a real sense that the novelty of working from home day-in, day-out, has worn off.
Deanne Stewart, Chief Executive of First State Super, commented; “When your home is your office it’s easy to say “Oh, I’ve got to send one more email.” And before you know it you’re actually doing 10 different things. Not only is that not good for you, it has an effect on staff. The moment they see an email from you, they’re like, “Oh, what do I need to do?”
Face-to-face, not facetime
There is plenty of evidence to support the notion that an element of face-to-face interaction in your working week is critical to establishing and maintaining a team culture and motivation levels. The power of face-to-face time in sales conversation rates has been heavily analysed in recent years, and can’t be ignored as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.
According to Harvard University research cited in a Forbes article, “Personal interactions yield better results. Face-to-face requests were 34 times more likely to garner positive responses than emails.”
Reconnecting in a professional office space may also deliver positive mental health outcomes for employees and employers.
A global study highlighted by Harvard Business Review, of:
- Over 2,700 employees
- Across more than 10 industries
- Undertaken by Qualtrics and SAP
- During March and April 2020, since the outbreak of the pandemic
- Found that “75% of people say they feel more socially isolated.”
Social isolation has also been found to have physical health impacts. Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General of the United States, wrote: “Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
Despite the new office normal involving sneeze guards and regular hand sanitisation, a professional and human interactive environment still appears to be an essential and highly desirable element of the working week.
Rowena Young of Flexispace commented, “A hybrid blend of working from home, remote working and office-based working is expected. Capacity and duration of workspace interaction is where I see an evolution in the way people work.”
At Flexispace, Ms Young reported that members are returning to the office for a number of reasons, including:
- They require reliable technology
- They are craving a professional work environment, separate from their home (and separate from home-schoolers)
- They feel the need for some productive, face-to-face time to reconnect with team members and clients, in a safe, socially distant, office space.
“Platforms like Zoom have certainly helped to keep things ticking along for businesses, but they can’t replicate the power of an in-person exchange. There is no doubt that face-to-face time, even within the new controlled office environment, is putting a spring back in the step of many professionals I’m working with. They are telling me they feel motivated and pleased to be able to more clearly define their work and home lives,” Ms Young said.
Do you need a home office, AWAY from home?
If you require a flexible occupancy arrangement in Sydney’s CBD, contact the Flexispace team today. Located at No.1 Martin Place, a range of state-of-the-art meeting rooms and office spaces are available. With the strictest health and safety protocols in place and exceptional customer service, your return to the office will be as stress-free as possible.
View our office solutions or find out more about our best-practise COVID-19 protocols.
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