One of the biggest challenges facing organisations of our time is navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath. Businesses are adopting new ways of working to keep operations going while keeping their employees safe. The mounting pressure from the changing economic climate has left executives increasingly guarded in their outlook and offices relatively empty. Only one in five chief financial officers surveyed by PwC said they believed their companies could resume “business as usual” within a month if the crisis ended today. However, with adequate support, management teams can successfully carry out their primary responsibility for navigating their companies through this disruption.
The corporate boards also need to understand the problems their management executives are trying to solve as they chart a course to take their workforces from obstruction to recovery. Granted that the office experience probably won’t remain as it was before the pandemic, steps like asking employees to wear masks at all times, redesigning spaces to ensure physical distancing, and restricting movement in congested areas are expected.
Transform the workplace with a user-centred design approach
Steelcase, a global organisation providing architecture, furniture, and technology products and services to enhance workplace experience, has already brought its team back to the office. They believe work to be a social activity and office to be a place where people have access to tools they need to collaborate most effectively. They are actively preparing themselves to generate new ideas that lead to innovation and help their clients prepare to return to the office. All of it requires thoughtful consideration of the components of all the stakeholders’ situation and needs.
According to Steelcase’s research, a vast majority of office goers — 88-90% — want to work in an office again. Real productivity is hard to accomplish virtually, and while individual task work is up, collaboration and creativity are not. The Steelcase WorkSpace Future research found that 62.6% saw a decline in time spent working with others and 55% say collaborating with others is harder working from home, according to Gensler’s U.S. Work from Home Survey 2020.
Density, Geometry and Division
To tackle this lull, Steelcase decided to welcome its employees back to the office that is designed and equipped to safeguard their wellbeing and safety, whilst allowing the face-to-face interaction they craved. As the team enjoy social connections and the tools that the workplace offers, such as ergonomic office seating, height-adjustable desks, large-scale collaboration technology, whiteboards and printers, the Steelcase Workplace Advisor – a sensing and space analytics management system – helps identify the most utilised spaces and likely to require deeper and more frequent cleaning. This data helps identify the frequently used areas within facilities and determine where they need to intensify cleaning protocols.
Technology has caught up with transformation of the workplace. Steelcase’s RoomWizard is one of the digital tools that help create more touchless workspaces, whilst allowing organisations to monitor office space usage and circulation patterns.
It was also necessary to decrease people’s density so that they could follow the six-foot distance protocol. So, the furniture was pulled away and removed completely wherever possible. It proved to be hassle-free in places they were using the Steelcase Flex Collection – a range of flexible and reconfigurable workplace solutions designed for dynamic, collaborative teams. The products are mobile and changeable as per the orientation or geometry of the desks. The collection includes screens or panels that help create boundaries and barriers between people, spaces and pathways.
Here are a few extraordinary products from the Steelcase’s collections that can help teams adapt the space according to the number of people working and for their comfort:
Huddle Hub: Steelcase Flex Huddle Hub is a display board with a unique 55° curvature that lets teams have organic, informal, and self-organised interactions. Whether one wishes to work inside the office or in an open space. Designed to move, expand and contract with team needs, this uniquely-curved whiteboard with its tackable wall and smooth caster wheels lets teams stay active and engaged during team sessions.
In picture: An open collaborative space gives teams a place to collaborate, while enabling flexible distancing and easy reconfiguration.
Steelcase Roam Collection: Collaboration fuels innovation. The Roam Collection of mobile stands move easily on smooth-rolling casters for on-the-go transitions throughout any space. Built to support the Microsoft Surface Hub 2S family of devices, the Roam with Hub enhances collaboration across distance and across devices. Locking casters provide added stability and safety. The mobile stand was thoughtfully designed to help teams work effectively. The legs are designed to be the ideal circumference for hands to easily grip. The storage tray keeps cables hidden and the back panel is useful to house various assets or presentation needs.
RoomWizard: It is a room reservation system designed to display critical meeting information readable from a distance, assist with wayfinding and scheduling meeting spaces from your desk or at the device. You may customize it to reflect your organisation’s culture and personality. Change the logo, choose from infinite colour options or upload specific images – personalisation is all up to you.
Wellbeing and Comfort
Apart from safety, flexibility and having more control of the space at work, employees are now more aware of their comfort in the office after spending months at home during the pandemic. In bustling work environments, ergonomic seating is not just a luxury — it’s a necessity. That’s because employees who sit for long periods of time face specific challenges that ergonomic chairs counteract. At home, many people have to juggle small spaces, family and roommates along with inadequate equipment and technology. This is a big reason people want to get back to their workplaces. Steelcase research found senior leaders (directors or above) have more access than individual contributors to work essentials like ergonomic chairs, height-adjustable desks, and a secondary monitor. This fact makes many junior people want to return to their workplace. Steelcase makes it easier for organizations to provide dynamic and adaptable amenities to their employees when they return to work. Movable, height-adjustable, posture-correcting chairs and tables are not just pieces of furniture but tools that enable a more structured environment for teams with the flexibility to move around the floor plan. These avant garde furniture products are also a great investment for people who prefer remote or hybrid working environments.
Steelcase’s collections of height-adjustable workstations and professional task chairs
Along with preparing the workplace in compliance with safety regulations, management teams and boards will also have to lead the way with empathy and demonstrate an understanding that while all of their employees have experienced this crisis, they have all experienced it differently. Similarly, recognizing that workforces will need time to adapt to new ways of working post-pandemic will go a long way in building a healthy on-site experience for them. Enabling real, two-way communication is a sure shot way to turn the COVID-19 crisis into an opportunity to strengthen corporate culture, increase employee engagement and boost productivity and loyalty over the long run.
To explore a range of Steelcase’s ergonomic furniture and accessories, please visit its online shop. From now through 18th April 2020, ET Spotlight readers can enjoy an exclusive 15% discount on all items with promo code: ET15OFF.
(This article is generated and published by ET Spotlight team. You can get in touch with them on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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