According to a recent study, 73% of people are worried about returning to a physical office, and their top concern is not knowing if someone who is sick comes into the workplace.
So how can companies ensure they're ensuring social distancing, proper workspace sanitization and tracking employee health, while still maintaining employee privacy?
Room scheduling software offers the tracking and tools companies need to better manage workplace health and safety, while providing the flexibility employees have become accustom to. Room scheduling software also provides insight into space utilization, real-time employee data, and better real estate insights to drive better business decisions.
Company & Employee Concerns in the Post-Pandemic Workplace
Preventing Crowding and Exposure to Sick Employees
According to the same study from Envoy, both employees and organizations are most concerned about coming into contact with a sick person in the office, especially in a crowded workspace. These same employees are also concerned about being indoors with a lack of ventilation, there being too many people being in the office at once, and crowding in elevators or stairwells.
At Accruent, many of our customers are using room scheduling software to prevent crowding by booking spaces that need to stay empty and clear in order to effectively maintain social distancing. By blocking off bookable spaces within your scheduling solution, you remove the possibility of unintended bookings that could create unsafe working conditions for your employees.
Desk hoteling is another one solution to help businesses effectively meet hygiene and crowding concerns for employees, by ensuring safe spaces in the workplace are still available when employees need them. As we prepare to return to the office, the reality is that free-for-all desk hoteling — where people blindly choose a space that best suits them — is gone for the foreseeable future. In order to effectively use desk hoteling software to address employee concerns, a room scheduling software solution is critical.
Desk hoteling software gives you data to reference, so you have the relevant information you need on who, when and where space is being used. Having a single source of truth for how spaces are used is critical for social distancing, sanitation and monitoring.
Check out our seven best practice for implementing desk hoteling.
Social Distancing in the Office
Today, there is an average of only 7.8 feet of distance between each person in a typical office. Square footage of office spaces has been steadily declining since 2009. This means that maintaining proper social distancing between employees in the office will need to be intentional and monitored. This can be done physically, by removing desks and chairs, closing communal workspaces, and providing visual indicators of distance to increase the opportunity for proper distance between employees.
This can also be done with technology like room scheduling software. With a scheduling solution, companies can use digital signage and mobile booking to indicate when rooms are available, how many people can properly distance within a meeting space, and set max capacities to prevent overbooking. This software also provides robust reporting so employers can track who is using the space, how many people are in the space at any given time, and when spaces need to be sanitized between meetings.
Proper Sanitization of Common Spaces
Tracking sanitization and knowing when spaces need to be maintained will be critical for a return to the office. According to a study from Eagle Hill Consulting, 58% of employees said that the availability of protections like masks, gloves and hand sanitizer in the workplace would make them feel safer about going back to work.
Room scheduling software with built-in utilization reporting allows employers to manually or automatically run reports to understand which spaces were used each day and prioritized those most heavily trafficked for cleaning. Additionally, you can quickly set up queries to provide detailed data on how and when spaces have been used through the workday. These reports can be automated to send periodically or even in real time as spaces are booked and used.
Tracking Employee Health & Maintaining Privacy
With more and more companies committing to temperature checks and regular reporting on employee COVID-19 cases, some employees are concerned with privacy and what it means for their health to be tracked. Balancing transparency and privacy is tricky. 37% of respondents to the Envoy survey said that they would consider quitting their jobs if their employer asked for and improperly shared or stored their health information.
First, companies need to know what information they are legally allowed to access and store, as determined by government agencies like the EEOC, ADA, OSHA and HIPAA. Additionally, employers should put great consideration into who will have access to the data they do store, like temperature readings and potential exposures.
When employers do need to share data about employees that may have been exposed to the virus, a room scheduling software solution will come in handy for quickly identifying any employees that were in the same spaces as the potentially infected employee, making it easier to communicate this sensitive information to only a small, targeted group.
Space Utilization & Real Estate Costs
While employees are concerned about social distancing and sanitization, many employers are also concerned about space utilization and what the decline in usable space will do to their real estate costs. In a post-COVID world, companies will likely shift to a more diverse real estate portfolio, particularly as most businesses are moving toward offering a combination of owned space, standard leases, flexible leases, flex space, co-working space and remote work.
Companies are focused on increased efficiencies and increased real estate ROI, and this will be important to keep in mind – and take advantage of – as you return to work.
Real estate can also be used to drive more value by using office space more efficiently through strategies like multi-use spaces, hoteling, and bookable, socially distant neighborhood seating. Room scheduling software helps increase your effective capacity and uncover additional square footage that can justify increased budgets and billings, leading to more streamlined workplace scheduling, safer, distanced workspaces, and better real estate ROI.
Learn more about rethinking your real estate during the Great Return to Work.
Maintaining Flexible Work Policies
According to a McKinsey survey, U.S. remote-working employees have seen more positive effects on their daily work, are more engaged and have a stronger sense of well-being than those in non-remote jobs with little flexibility. The survey from Eagle Hill Consulting also found that 42% of respondents want their workplaces to maintain remote work flexibility, even after COVID-19. And another survey suggests that 25-30% of the workforce will still work from home by the end of 2021.
With these data points in mind, companies should prepare to offer a phased, flexible approach to their returning workforce, both in the short term and beyond.
As some employees begin to return to the office, others will likely need to remain at home, and having a robust room and meeting scheduling solution will be critical to ensuring meetings are still effective.
Integrating video conferencing into your room scheduling software will help to maintain continued virtual meetings, connect your at-home and in-office workforce and minimize contact between employees to keep them healthy and distanced.
Plan Your Return to Work with Accruent's EMS Room Scheduling Software Solution
As companies continue to evolve and plan their ‘Return to Work’ strategy, keeping the concerns of your employees top of mind will be critical to your success. Accruent's EMS room scheduling software helps organizations manage room bookings, desk hoteling, sanitization, social distancing, and more.
Check out our eBook on Managing the Great Return to Work to learn more about implementing a successful return to work strategy.