Will the newly announced 4-step plan to ease England’s lockdown give enterprises a timeline along which they can plan their return to the workplace?
Implementing a workspace booking system is a challenging, multi-disciplinary project that demands facilities management, technical and HR considerations, not to mention a lot of guess work.
For months, enterprises in the UK have been in limbo.
As a provider of workspace booking systems, we’ve seen lots of planned ‘go live’ dates come and go as the UK lockdown situation evolved.
Unfortunately, the roadmap plans announced on the 22nd February don’t specifically mention a date for lifting the ‘work from home’ guidance.
All we have to ‘go on’ at the moment is that ministers plan to carry out ‘a review’ on social distancing measures in advance of the fourth step (currently earmarked for the 21st June). The results of this review may in turn inform whether a return to the office can be included as part of the fourth step.
In the meantime, we are continuing to help organisations with their return to work plans provisions, and our mantra is to include as much flexibility as possible – not just to support social distancing, but also to help workforces transition to working in new ways going forwards.
One such customer is Colart, a large international supplier of art materials, with subsidiaries and brands such as Winsor & Newton, Liquitex and Lefranc & Bourgeois.
A critical component of Colart’s return to the office strategy has been to create resources for training its workforce in how to use their new desk booking system.
According to Claudio Toledo, head of project management at Colart,
“To help with the rollout of our socially distanced desk booking service, Essential provided us with Colart-branded ‘how to’ videos. This, along with interactive floor-plans that reflect our company look and feel, will help our workforce quickly transition to a new way of using our workspace”.
According to Sara Appleyard, who spearheads the workspace map design service offered by Essential,
‘We work hard to make the floor plan element of our solution as accessible and easy-to-assimilate as possible. Incorporating visual cues and key landmarks into floor plans ease the workspace selection process and help staff navigate to their booked desk when they arrive at the office’.
For example, I might never be able to go back to my ‘regular desk’ ever again but knowing I can easily book a standing desk close to the coffee room, or quickly find a convenient space for a small team meeting will help keep me happy and productive.
In the case of Colart, we incorporated the company’s branding and other visual elements that reflected their funky, design-led office space into their interactive floor plans.
Boost workforce confidence in returning to the office
Many of our customers are also keen to mark out where they’ve placed hand sanitisers and indicate any traffic flow systems.
We also produce bespoke training videos which show the workspace booking experience from a browser, a mobile device, etc.
By providing ‘how to’ training, making it easy to book a safe workspace and illustrating the safety measures that have been put in place, an enterprise can bolster its workforces’ confidence in returning to back to the physical office…when we can.
Even if we do get to return back to the office on the 21st June, it’s clear that flexibility is key.
As indicated by Sir Patrick Vallance, the winter months may well require that we re-introduce social distancing measures.
This in turn will demand that enterprises are well-placed to amend their workplace booking regimes.
Colart’s workspace booking system includes an automatic ring fencing facility which instantly prevents adjacent desks from being used when a member of staff makes their desk selection.
This ensures all desks are socially distanced, but it’s a feature that can be enabled or disabled as required.
For example, Colart has the flexibility to make all its available desks available to staff during the summer months, but to re-apply automatic social distancing as required in the winter.