There is likely no other time in history where working in an office can be considered a luxury. More and more, the effects of COVID-19 are shaping the future of working arrangements for employees across multiple industries.
Some employees love working from home, and others may miss a trustee desk in an office dedicated to them and their co-workers. Either way, it is no secret that workplace management will see some major changes in the near future.
What is workplace management?
Workplace management can be considered a crucial part of employee welfare and support. Essentially, it has to do with ensuring employees have the best environment to facilitate productivity while at work. At the same time, it is also important to maintain a sense of community among staff.
Consider for instance the possible components of an office. There would likely be some meeting rooms, a pantry, the washroom, perhaps the private offices of the higher-ups.
In the wider seating area, you may encounter the stereotypical cubicle desks for individual employees. But who sits where? And should the private offices have windows or be more secluded? Should there be private offices at all?
Workplace management technically comes under facility management, but it is more concerned about optimising the physical environment of work spaces rather than the actual architecture. That is why the above questions have to be asked in the first place.
Where business management deals with the activities at work, workplace optimisation has to do with the flow of the rooms and how people are guided to maneuver around it. Arguably, the latter must be handled well before the former can be conducted smoothly. Meetings cannot take place without the proper meeting space, after all.
Therefore, some considerations that go into workplace management are:
- Establishing a secure check-in process
- Managing desk and meeting spaces
- Workplace assignments on an in-team and departmental level
- Restocking the pantry and updating snack and beverage options
- Other physical or environmental aspects like temperature and types of light in the building
The rising importance of workplace management
Now more than ever, workplace management will become an integral part of conducting business. The coronavirus pandemic is a viral war we can only fight back against through physical means. That includes more rigorous hygiene practices and effective social distancing measures wherever possible. The physical aspects of running a business will need to take much more precedence, as current events have already proven.
For instance, part of increased efforts will be sanitation work, and not just on the side of cleaners or maintenance staff. Workplace facilities will need to provide more sanitation stations around as well. These should be placed in ideal positions to help each employee uphold more disciplined hygiene practices.
Another facet of workplace management that will be featured more in new ways of working will be the check-in processes put in place for each type of individual who enters your facility. This includes tracing the comings and goings of regular staff, contractors, and visitors alike, to ensure businesses can keep track of anyone who has been in close contact within their premises.
In particular, visitor management is a tricky aspect that requires more due diligence, especially since visitors are usually random and can be one-off or regular. There will increasingly arise a need to engage systems that will streamline the process of checking these visitors in, especially when considering any current or future government imposed restrictions.
All organisations can benefit from workplace management
Leadership teams may assume only bigger corporations really need a dedicated workplace management strategy. It certainly looks that way from a surface level. Why would small office spaces need so much attention?
In reality, though, developing a nourishing physical environment plays such a significant role in the success of productivity and innovation. This is so much so that it would be a misstep to leave it out of business planning. For large businesses with plenty of space, workplace management will ensure morale can remain high even among a large number of employees.
Small businesses are not exempt from consideration either. In fact, having a small space arguably makes it even more important to ensure the space is well-groomed to facilitate work. Having a good basis and understanding of the space will play a part in determining how the company may scale up in the future as well.
Not to mention, workplace mismanagement can be quite costly to the organisation, no matter what size it is. Imagine if your employees only ever go to the office from 9 to 5 but the air-conditioning is left turned on 24/7. Then imagine the waste that subsequently ensues.
The dawn of COVID-19 has changed businesses’ office needs radically. With increased work-from-home orders and hybrid work arrangements, the uptake on alternative office options like coworking spaces has escalated and is likely to continue to. For such locales, workplace management is absolutely crucial to upholding fair treatment and establishing good relationships between neighbouring businesses.
Types of COVID-19 workplace management
Some of the more traditional factors going into workplace management will still apply in current contexts, but there will certainly be a few whose constituents will need updating as well. In this section, we will go through some types of workplace management most relevant to operating in a COVID-19 world.
This workplace management consideration is one of the more obvious ones, but does not diminish its importance. Especially in the face of a pandemic, the layout of an office can determine the safety and communal health practices of employees working there.
In the past, office layout was mostly concerned with managing the diverse personalities of various individuals. Cubicles can be stifling, but workspaces which are too open can also cause anxiety for those who are more introverted. Understanding the nuances of your people will help you use office layout to encourage better workflow.
Now, the added aspect of safe distancing will likely be encouraged even after the coronavirus does not pose an immediate threat. Business owners will need to make full use of the office environment to keep a careful balance between being socially responsible and facilitating productive work discussions.
Adopting a mobile and flexible office environment
For bigger corporations, having a flexible office space would not likely be high on the priority list. When you have a whole building to your company name, how much adjusting do you really need to do, right?
Unfortunately, COVID has changed many of the rules that used to apply. More often than not nowadays, uncertainty rather than stability characterises the working environment that people must adapt to.
Part of workplace management would then involve getting new equipment for individual employees to set up their home offices. This may include transporting devices from the office to employees’ addresses. In some cases, business owners may need to increase the facility management budget to get entirely new gear for staff who must work at home. The plan must also state what happens to equipment once people start going back to offices.
Being mobile applies even more so for smaller enterprises. A good option for such organisations is coworking spaces that offer flexible plans to their clients. That way, when restrictions ease there is the option to gather in a communal space when necessary, and continue working from home at other times.
However, planning for the future is a crucial part of workplace management as well. This is no longer true just for organisations who are planning to scale up eventually. Especially with the tumultuous nature of operations in a world with COVID-19, you may need to move before you were even intending to. Being readily mobile and having a plan for any sudden moves will ensure everything goes smoothly.
Where productivity and morale are concerned, the office can either be a haven or a hindrance. In this time of a global pandemic, diligent organisations will likely see an increased value in workplace management.
This is especially so for the strategies it offers to handle business during—and after—this tumultuous period. The nature of offices may change, but with the right workplace management plan in place, you can always bounce back and create a nurturing and dynamic workspace.
About the author
Other than for work, Marielle loves writing for fun (fantasy fiction is her not-so-secret mistress). She is also an intense Broadway and Disney geek and sometimes sings professionally.