What does the future of working from the office look like post-Covid-19?

Almost exactly one year ago, the South African government implemented the first lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Strict Level five restrictions were put in place to assist in flattening the curve and to reduce infection rates.

An insight into how companies can embrace change in a post-Covid-19 workplace

During this time, many businesses were forced to close down, while the majority of the remaining workforce packed up their desks and prepared to work from home.  

At the time the expectation was that this protocol would last for a short, and somewhat exciting, two-week period. Little did we know that one year later the virus would still be dictating the reality of our now adjusted working world. 

The pandemic changed the manner of our social interactions drastically, with the majority of people now operating from their homes and connecting via various meeting apps.

Now that we are finally in lockdown Level-1, afternoon traffic has built up, shops have removed rental boards and people are starting to return to their offices. 

Despite the positive atmosphere and eagerness to get back to “normal”, there is still a feeling of scepticism and fear when it comes to safety, especially with the chatter of the much dreaded third wave starting to circulate. We have become so aware of social distancing, what we touch, and the wearing of masks, that safety has become second nature and that isn’t going anywhere soon. 

As a result, companies need to embrace change and handle this adjustment period in the best and least disruptive way possible. 

Below are three actions to help your business adapt to a new way of working while keeping safety top of mind. 

1.Create guidelines

Every office is different, so start by asking the important questions about how working from home and in the office can now look. Through these answers, a natural set of guidelines will form and will help you find the ideal solution for your office space. 

Start with the basics:

  1. Are you open to offering employees the opportunity to work from home? 
  2. Are you open to allowing flexible working hours?
  3. Which teams or employees are required to collaborate regularly? 
  4. How many people can the office accommodate responsibility at one time?

Once the basic guidelines have been established these need to be communicated to employees in a clear and precise manner.   

2.Let employees choose

Give employees the power to manage their days and times within the office according to the set guidelines. This not only allows for accountability and higher rates of productivity but also ensures that the highest safety protocols are being practised.

The ability to administer seating plans effectively and quickly with cloud-based software is going to be instrumental in how businesses manage their offices – now and in the future. These software systems should allow for immediate bookings and cancellations, thereby shifting the burden of administration away from office managers.

Administrators should have oversight on which employees intend to be in the office at a particular time and should be able to allocate certain employees to book only in certain areas. This allows for effective planning and increased collaboration on projects between different departments and people.

3. Implement the right systems

By having workspace-booking measures in place, it provides for more structure and control, but also fosters a democratic and transparent operating environment that allows employees to easily book and choose their own workspaces. At the same time, the company is setting itself up to optimise and streamline its workplace effectively, both for current and future needs.

The concepts of “smart desking” or “hot desking” are not new and have been around for many years. However, when these concepts were created before the Covid-19 pandemic, the first systems were built for a large and mobile workforce that would want the ability to book a space in different offices from day-to-day.

The challenges of Covid-19 and the new “hybrid model” of alternating workdays between the home and the office have provided a resurgence for the need for workspace booking systems. Office-space booking has quickly evolved and now allows business owners to allocate office-spaces according to Covid-19 social-distancing regulations, and present booking options to employees based on their seating preference, via real-time cloud-based software.

In recent years we have seen a natural move towards more flexibility in the workplace. The pandemic has just sped up a natural process while encouraging more safety measures.  

These decisions can be difficult to make, and they require input from different stakeholders to find the ideal solution for each office space. Don’t look at this as a challenge but rather an opportunity to streamline processes and ultimately increase productivity in the long run.

This article was written by Ulrich Stark, Director at WizzPass.

Featured image: WizzPass team, (Supplied)



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