The return to the offices will be in phases, partial work from home will still be needed

11.5.2020

Despite the dismantling of pandemic-related measures, the return to corporate offices will be gradual. Business services companies, for example, plan to return to offices in phases. Some workers will continue to work fully from home, some will take turns in the offices. The centers assume that the pre-pandemic state could be reached during the summer. This data stems from the recent survey conducted by ABSL.

In mid-March, more than 90% of the total number of 120,000 employees of business services centers moved to work from home arrangement. Thanks to this, the industry ensured smooth and full operation even in times of emergency and quarantine. The centers plan to return to the offices gradually, in phases. The average size of the business services center is less than 400 employees, but some of the teams are up to four times larger.

“With such a large number of employees, it would not be possible to ensure the recommended spacing, and therefore the centers will fill their office space gradually. For example, parents of school-age children and at-risk workers will remain working fully from home for now, ”says Jonathan Appleton, ABSL’s director,

adding that the centers are preparing a range of measures to ensure safe operation and to prevent the re-spread of coronavirus. These include both the rotation of teams working from the office and the modification of the workplace itself. Companies assume that in the first phase, not more than 50% of employees will work from offices.

Only 40% of space usable

“The post-pandemic workplace must be safe, functional and, most importantly, trustworthy for employees,” says Jana Vlková, director of the Workplace Advisory department at Colliers, a strategic partner of ABSL.

“Therefore, we advise companies to ensure two-meter spacing between people in the first place. This will be helped by a change in the layout of the furniture, as well as the use of alternative spaces, such as relaxation or meeting rooms. Spaces that must remain empty and unoccupied has to be marked,” she adds. Where possible, transparent plexiglass barriers should also be installed. It should definitely be installed at the reception of each office building. According to Colliers, only 40 percent of the space will initially be usable in most offices. As measures to enable social distance can be expected to continue over the next few months, many people will need to continue working from home unless there are significant changes in the layout and design of the office.

Open doors measures and meetings to remain online

In addition to the changes in layout of the furniture and staff, the centers plan to continue to organize all meetings and appointments online, both to maintain “social distancing” and because many employees will continue to work from home. The centers are also going to focus on regular disinfection of offices. Toilets, kitchens and other common areas are equipped with hand disinfection and employees are offered disinfection wipes so that they can clean their work area. “A very good measure against the spread of the disease is to reduce physical contact with the door. Where possible, we recommend leaving the door open so that employees do not have to touch the handles, ”advises Jana Vlková.

65% of employees want to work from the office 3 or more days a week

“Although the centers tried to make maximum contact with employees working from home and, in addition to online business meetings and conferences, also organized various virtual social, educational, sports and entertainment activities to eliminate the feelings of isolation of their people as much as possible, it can be seen that many employees are already looking forward to returning to the offices. They are missing the company of their colleagues after such a long time at home, “says Jonathan Appleton, adding:” We are optimistic, we believe that during the summer we will be able to get back to the original state and the pre-pandemic use of the offices. ”

The  business services industry traditionally offers its people great flexibility. Even before the pandemic, over 80% of employees had the opportunity to work at least partially from home. A recent Colliers working from home survey found out that 65% of employees in the CEE region are interested in working in the office for more than 3 days during a normal working week, only a fifth of employees are interested in working from home from a larger part of the working week.

Image source: Business photo created by pressfoto – www.freepik.com

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