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How to evolve your workspaces and ensure employees remain engaged and committed?

The three Rs – Decision Time

As the world slowly opens again, and employees return to the workplace in many locations, businesses must now look beyond their recent reactive work policies and consider how best to evolve their physical workplace offering.

This is a key strategic decision and must consider the long-term approach to remote working and flexible working. This includes the key role of the modern workspace to motivate and keep staff energized, collaborative, productive and happy at work, while competing with the comforts of home.

All employers across the globe are facing this critical decision, how to evolve their physical workspaces and ensure their employees remain inspired, engaged and committed. This choice essentially distils down to three outcomes – Refresh, Relocate or Remove.

Refresh

If companies decide to stay on in their current office locations, it’s an opportune time to overhaul the design, look and feel of the office environment while many employees are still working from home. Leaders can decide how the office environment should work, from hot desking spaces to collaboration areas and larger meeting rooms for social distancing. Companies may seek external support, inspiration and best practice to do this. They may also want to consult with the employees working in those spaces and ask them for their ideas on ways to improve their workspace. There may even be opportunities to add touches such as living green walls or vertical gardens. These purify the air, reduce the ambient temperature, and create an enhanced sense of wellbeing. Or even review other workplace policies, such as the presence of pets within offices. It’s important to consider that employees will be comparing the workplace with their home environment through new eyes.

Relocate

In Hong Kong, we’re seeing customers moving out of high lease value locations such as city centers. The move to smaller suburban offices is typically to reduce costs, and to be more accessible for employees. Some businesses have downsized and moved several rail-stops away from the Central District to reduce lease costs. The Crown Workspace Hong Kong General Manager, Luis Contreras, has also experienced two-way migration away from expensive office leases, as well as other companies moving into the vacant central office spaces to take advantage of reduced rates. Luis has seen companies in Hong Kong reevaluating cash flow and office footprints, as well as moving staff to multiple office locations to enable social distancing. They are also introducing rotational shifts for staff and reconfiguring office spaces to improve health and safety and provide greater opportunities for collaboration.

Remove

There were unparalleled global employment losses in 2020 caused by the impact of the pandemic. With fewer employees, some companies have closed or ‘mothballed’ offices if their lease is set to continue for years. Furniture has been placed into storage to reduce business rates in regions where this is possible. If companies have shorter leases, they may have closed down the offices altogether. Equipment and furniture removal can become a real challenge and many companies seek external support to manage the safe and secure removal, recycling or donation of office equipment.

Of course, it’s important that companies ensure employees have the right work set-up at home. There are many posture-related hazards exacerbated by poor seating. While other home environmental factors such as lighting and heating, as well as other poor ergonomic factors, can cause long-term ill health. The company still has a duty of care to its employees even when they are working from home.

Sustainability and the circular economy are front of mind for many companies. Sending technology and large items of furniture to landfill is not an acceptable option. Crown Workspace is seeing many more companies enquiring how we manage furniture disposal, charity donations and buyback agreements.

No-one can predict the future challenges that may impact the workforce and workplace. Regardless of the path you choose, keeping staff informed – and even better involved – in your decision making is crucial. If you’re in the process of budgeting your office relocation project – or are looking for ways to reduce your spend – get in touch with one of our Crown specialists today.

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