As lockdown restrictions are eased, many organisations have increased expectations of employees being physically present in the workplace. In a survey of 2000 UK office workers commissioned by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM), 31% felt their employer was pressuring them to return. People have realised that we don’t have to work the way that we did in March 2020 and some are dreading the return. Fear of returning to the office combines the 9 to 5, five day working week, the rush-hour commute and sub-optimal working environments.
In contrast, we are keen to meet our colleagues again, as we miss the social connections, face to face collaboration, mentoring, training and having a boundary between work and personal time.
For most people, the solution will be a hybrid work schedule with days in an office to collaborate, be creative and feel part of the community, combined with working from home on individual tasks.
The challenge is making the office better, so it is a draw rather than a chore, a place that supports the work that we can’t do as well anywhere else. This will involve changes to how we work and the physical facilities, but will also require more customer centric support services, designed to ensure the best possible work day experience. Exemplary standards of facilities services will ensure the safety, comfort, cultural wellbeing and productivity of the organisation and its employees, whilst flexible office attendance will require agile service partners with evolutionary resourcing models.
The requirement for proactive and reactive Covid-secure cleaning has added an additional cost to already challenged facilities management budgets. The necessary improvement in customer service standards required to ensure that going to the office is a benefit, will bring additional, almost certainly unaffordable costs.
Property economics has been undergoing a sea change over recent years, affecting the terms and conditions of occupation, with increased flexibility in the use and cost of space being demanded by occupiers. The future will present many challenges to investors, landlords, tenants and visitors alike, inevitably affecting the economics of commercial office occupation at some stage. However, this transfer has been catapulted forward by the pandemic and all occupiers are now challenging their physical workspace needs, their collaborative support requirements and the inherent cost.
Support service requirements will have to undergo a similar transformation, with new roles, skills, processes and procedures being required to deliver Pandemic Secure cleaning, within alternative, more cost-effective structures. For those workspaces that are service resource intensive, such as building reception areas, business lounges and serviced offices, the delivery of soft services by separate teams of cleaners, business support co-ordinators, security officers and receptionists is unlikely to be the best model. The siloed resources are often underutilised for parts of the day, particularly during the quiet periods which are likely to expand with the new flexible working arrangements.
An outcome based approach, where the overall service requirements of each workspace drives the standards and resourcing can improve customer service whilst reducing costs. Separate janitor, receptionist and security officer descriptions become obsolete in the multi-service workspaces. Costs can be substantially reduced, by up to 30%, through more effective use of multi-skilled resource, the introduction of new technology and the restructuring of shift patterns and service timing to further reduce labour requirements.
Tailoring service delivery to individual requirements, proactive management and a single, collaborative team, will drive further efficiencies. Multi-skilled service support teams covering hygiene, housekeeping, safety and risk management, with excellent customer service and communication skills will ensure the best working day experience for employees, occupiers and visitors.
To find out more about how NJC can help you can improve customer experience and service standards, whilst reducing costs, please contact us today.