The Future of Workplaces: Employee Perspective on Return-to-work
COVID-19 had a great impact on work and workplaces. Most organizations are still evaluating their repurposed work norms or the work formats at the workplaces. With the lurking fear of the third wave, companies are still in a wait and watch mode.
It is in this context, Caleedo carried out an open poll with employees, administrators, senior executives, service providers, and key decision-makers on how they are proposing return-to-work once the pandemic has normalized in India. This blog article will discuss the findings of the poll to help the community in understanding expectations of the workforce when they start returning to their work and workplaces.
Enhanced Hygiene Standards: The Top Most Priority
Survey respondents that included employees and administrators felt that ‘Enhanced Hygiene Standards’ at workplaces should be a top priority when they return to work.
The quality of indoor air and surface hygiene of frequently touched surfaces are sources of contamination that need to be tracked and managed at periodic intervals. Visibility of these hygiene levels, and transparent communication with the employees, can build trust and confidence in employees to feel secure when they return to work.
Display of hygiene levels could help organizations in building employee trust and ensure a safe return to work for them. Public announcements, senior leadership communications on health, safety, and hygiene would also go a long way in establishing the organizational commitment towards this very critical aspect as businesses plan to get their employees back to work.
This trend is evidenced by the highly visible air quality displays in prominent public areas in airports, hotels, schools… and it will not be long before it becomes a de facto requirement at workplaces.
Majority of the respondents who participated in the poll also resonated with the fact that visibility on Indoor Air Hygiene levels would be a new normal when they return to work. 46% of respondents have expressed willingness to get IAQ level updates digitally and another 15% on the display of surface hygiene levels (ATP-Adenosine Triphosphate).
Among the other hygiene measures that they prefer to have at their workplaces are proper training on indoor air and hygiene management to employees, service staff, and building operations team.
Indoor air quality must be looked at with utmost care as the novel coronavirus is claimed to have the ability to spread through air in a closed setting. Under such circumstances, organizations can foster a healthy work environment by live streaming air hygiene levels at all common areas in the office spaces like reception, lifts, lobbies, cafes, etc.
When is the return expected?
As more and more organizations have vaccinated their employees, one question that looms in everybody’s mind is when can we expect employees to return to work?
When asked about return to work plans, 42% of poll respondents commented that they are already working from their offices while 53% of them responded that they will be back in their offices in 2–3 months i.e. in the current quarter.
The findings of the poll are in line with multiple reports, articles, panel discussions published in the public domain highlighting the fact that office occupancy levels are at the highest since March 2020 and that employee vaccination rates have ramped up in the last 2 months.
Did companies offer remote locations to work from?
Recently, some large organizations have announced a shift from the WFH model to WFO model. Most of them are planning this transition in a phased manner by allowing a percentage of employees to work from home, some from offices, and some to work few days from the office and few days from home.
When the pandemic was in full force and organizations were operating in a work-from-home or work from anywhere format, almost 80% of the respondents were working from their homes as established in our poll survey results.
As work, work format, and workplaces reboot later this year, there are several new initiatives and priorities that the organizations would have to adopt and implement as their return to work master plan.
COVID-19 has changed the world and the way we do business. Digital technologies have emerged as a messiah and catalyst in this trying phase in the world of business.
It is in this context and as in many other facets of our lives, organizations would start to invest in workplace technologies and digital applications.
Most of these, as we observe in this survey, would adhere to health and hygiene protocols, support new work norms like hybrid work, allow greater collaboration through orchestrating workplace services and stakeholders seamlessly while helping to evaluate and enhance the experience of all when they return to work.
The next few years will see significant innovation, investment, and transformation in workplaces and workplace technology domain as businesses are expected to accelerate as the regional and global economy settles down and normalizes hereinafter.