Offices of the ‘near future’ will take on different configurations and design. The one constant, however, will be the need to factor in social distancing.

Design

As a return to the workplace is now looking more realistic, we would like to remind you of how we can support the transition out of lockdown.

An increase in the use of agile working, additional partitioning and nightly cleans are measures being discussed when contemplating a full return to the offices as the lockdown eases.

Whatever the extent of the measures required, an ‘off the shelf’ solution is unlikely to have the right tools included to get a refurbishment project completed without significant issues such as overruns, delays, increased costs and business interruption.

As independent project managers, Rapport Solutions support and deliver office fit-out projects.

Our management service, from preparing concept designs and layouts to selecting suitable contractors through an open book tender process, ensures that all project costs are controlled and programme time frames are achieved.

Here are our  top tips to ensure your team’s transition back into the office is a smooth one.

Connecting with your team

The pandemic has affected us all in different ways, and it is only normal for staff to feel uncertain about what their future holds.

Stay in touch regularly with your team; a quick check-in will help team members feel connected and valued, especially after a long period of remote working.

Plan and prepare

Inform your team of the provisions that have been made to create a safe work environment moving forward.

To ensure the transition back into the office is smooth and that all staff can carry out their duties comfortably and safely, ask the following.

  • How will they get to work?
  • Do they require additional support?
  • Are they comfortable with the safety measures in place? If not, what would make them feel more at ease?

Set realistic expectations

How we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks, so you will need to prepare staff to adapt quickly moving forward. Make sure you are honest and transparent with your team, although there is no light at the end of the tunnel, we still have the journey ahead to make together.

Deal with demotivation

  • While many people can’t wait to get back into the office, others will have found they prefer working from home.
  • If you can, try and be flexible with working hours for the first week or two or longer term so that staff can get used to getting back into a routine.
  • Encourage them to schedule their week and sketch out important to-dos that will help provide structure and make them feel like they have achieved something.
  • Remind them to keep their expectations realistic, or they may end up putting too much pressure on themselves.

In a period of change, it’s important to reassure employees that although the typical workplace as we know it may be different, this provides us all with an opportunity to analyse how we do things, and in turn, do them better.

We have delivered to a wide range of clients across London and the Home Counties including:

Ancestry UK, Mast-Jägermeister, UK Broadband, Octo Telematics, nDreams, Fish Financial and several Housing Associations.

We work with you to create innovative environments that enable inspiring and collaborative workspace.

Call or email us if you would like to discuss your future requirements and ideas further.

01252 712590

info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

You can view our recent projects here.

According to a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s report, despite increased business awareness of the importance of actively supporting health and wellbeing in the workplace, there still appears to be a stagnant implementation of any productive work wellbeing infrastructure in the UK working culture.

With an average cost of absence now at £554 per employee per year, and with fewer than one in 10 (8%) UK organisations having adopted a wellbeing strategy, many organisations’ internal efforts have consisted of one-off initiatives that often fail to have a long-term impact in the workplace.

To address this, the CIPD recommends that a proactive employee wellbeing programme – based on proper people management, leadership and culture – should be at the core of how an organisation fulfils its mission and carries out its operations.

So, how does this kind of information impact businesses when they look to relocate or redesign existing workspace?

We all know that moving house can be a stressful process, but an office relocation can have an impact on businesses and staff wellbeing if a well-structured plan isn’t implemented early enough in the process.

Identifying your staff’s home locations, for example, during an early consultation can identify employees who may be lost during the process due to an increased commute.

With these factors in mind, we spoke to Angela Seed, previously the General Manager of the London hub of The New York Times to find out how you can keep your employees happy while moving your business.

Angela, how should employees be consulted during a relocation process to ensure their wellbeing is managed?

Considering your staff’s needs has a significant impact on the process, so discover their locations and travelling patterns.

Based on our move-in April last year, we had a situation where we were centrally placed in London and all of our staff commute from North, South or East and West London so there wasn’t a huge problem. But, if you’re not in a centralised area, you’ve got to see where there may be challenges with travel for staff and increased costs.

Of course, business needs are the ultimate consideration, but your staff are also a big part of the location process.

Rapport’ work with HR teams to provide employee workshops before the relocation process. We advise organisations to look at projects at least 6-10 months in advance of a move date to identify critical questions for the move. In our experience, we find that clients are less frantic when they’ve identified all their options early on, which can save on costs in the long-term. Equally, staff stress, a reaction to the change reduces!

Lease terms and the legalities of securing a new property can also be a lengthy, tricky process. We often oversee this process, on behalf of our client, with their selected commercial agents at the very early stages to identify the key areas that work for staff alongside the business needs. We are very experienced at identifying available properties and the legalities of lease terms in consultation with our clients and on their behalf; this enables our clients to continue with other business matters.

Consult your employees – initially; we compiled a shortlist involving key people and heads of department; we then included all other employees when the decision was made on moving.

Employees may ask for certain things – our staff asked for showers, and they wanted functional kitchen areas. We wanted to ensure our staff’s wellbeing was being maintained, and reasonable requests met. We were able to accommodate showers in a small design change and ensured they had functional kitchenette areas on all floors as opposed to one floor.

We also have a pleasant basement courtyard with seating and tables where staff can sit and take lunch breaks, as well as room to store their bikes. You need to consider your staff and take into consideration what they would like out of the building and the working environment.

These aspects can be great incentives to employees through the process.

What employee policies should be factored into a relocation or fit-out process?

There are incentives you could implement for staff as an example agreeing to pay any additional travel fares to incentivise a move with the business.

It’s an overhead and cost so if you value your staff paying for the extra cost over 2/3 years as an example, could make the relocation process easier to accept.

But, some companies aren’t in a position to be able to do that. So, if an organisation needs to move out of London because of spiralling office space costs your staff either go with you, or they leave.

Alternatively, use a company like Rapport Solutions to assist you with the property locations, the tender lease process and to help project manage the process if need be to consider moving further afield to help save costs in the long term.

For example, there’s more space available in the City now, but the cost of rents have risen by as much as 46% on some properties, so consider looking at other areas in and around the capital.

Having Rapport to Project Manage the processes, on your behalf with agents and contractors, enables you to concentrate on other areas of your role, business needs and in the long run, can control costs.

What’s your advice to HR and facilities teams for a productive, collaborative and supportive environment during a relocation process?

To ensure a smooth office move, you need to be organised and have extra support teams working with you.  It helps to ensure a smooth transition for your staff to come in, to unpack their box straight away and enable them to start working immediately.

We had extra support; we brought over our IT team from Paris who worked on setting systems and PC’s up while the desks were being assembled over the weekend.

On the day, we moved in, and we put a system in place to have a team of removal men on all the floors to assist with moving furniture and collecting empty crates, etc., which resulted in a tidy and workable environment by the end of the day. Everything was up and running apart from small teething problems, which are inevitable.

Think about the process logically and organise teams who have clear objectives to make a move seamless throughout the relocation project.

You can speak with Rapport on 01252 712590 or info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

According to Rapport and Workspace Analyst Lily Bernheimer, how organisations adapt to a new generation of workers, and how you can utilise these insights to future-proof your office workspace and design will be crucial in 2020.

What impact will technology and cloud-based services have on the future office?

Technological innovation is transforming our working spaces, hours, and practices at an unprecedented rate of change. As the technology for communication, collaboration, and organisation improve, flexible and distributed working will continue to grow. But these trends are countered by the need to have high-quality spaces for face-to-face interaction when workers do come together.

Not only will these technologies have an impact on greater productivity, but the immediate and future effect of a new generation of workers vs the need for less traditional office space is a factor all businesses need to consider.

What trends or shifts do you predict with the new generation of employees?

These overall trends appear to be even more salient with the younger generation of workers. Millennials are more “fickle” (or flexible!) in their careers, quickly moving on to new opportunities if their high expectations for jobs and workplaces are not met.

International research has found that 56% of Millennials, especially those in the UK and US, preferred flexible working arrangements. Younger workers tend to want to find a job that is an expression of their identity. A workspace that allows them to express their identity is a big part of this.  

It is also important to consider the ageing population of workers. As the age of retirement increases, businesses need to be able to cater to both a new generation of workers and older workers.

Getting the balance right isn’t as difficult as it sounds; as many parallels and considerations of office design and office space can affect people of all ages equally.

Jeremy Myerson makes some valuable points in an article about ageing workers in The Guardian here.

What’s a Time and Space Utilisation study? How can it benefit businesses in the future direction of their workspace design and employee wellbeing? 

Time and Space Utilisation Study is a systematic assessment of how a workspace is used over a normal working week. Quantitative methods such as behaviour mapping and decibel measurement are combined with qualitative data to present a picture of how fully your businesses space is being utilised, and how well it is meeting individual and team working needs. Different organisations need different workspace “tools” to work at their best—a utilisation study reveals how well a workspace is performing. It identifies areas that can be made better use of, for example;

*How many hours a week are workers in the office?

*How much space is needed for different functions and teams?

*Will technological advancements reduce the need for extensive office space?

These crucial insights transform an office move or fit-out into a valuable opportunity to make the workspace support organisational performance and employee well-being.

We work closely with businesses to identify these needs based on the businesses future direction and advice best practices based on the analysis.

Working closely with Rapport’s services in this way can help make long-term financial savings and the longevity of any design or relocation of a business.

Come and speak to us about your workspace project on 01252 712590 or info@rapport-solutions.org.uk

The data from this article comes via the Tomorrow’s Home: Social Trends Report written and researched by Lily, in consultation with Robert Adam, Hugh Peter, ADAM Urbanism, Kurt Mueller, Grainger.

The Design and Workspace Analysis offers businesses the opportunity to assess how their workspace is used. Quantitative methods such as behaviour mapping and decibel measurement are combined with qualitative data to present a picture of how fully space is being utilised. And how it is meeting individual and teams working needs.

The utilisation study reveals how well a workspace is performing and identifies areas that can be improved upon, such as:

*How many hours a week are workers in the office?
*How much space is needed for different functions and teams?
*How will the future needs of the business affect the space we need?

The crucial insights transform an office move or fit-out into a valuable opportunity to make the workspace truly support organisational performance and employee wellbeing.

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Remote working and smarter technology

According to Samsung, the office of 2030 will look very different from today’s workspace.

Offices will become more flexible places to work. A sign that remote working will continue to develop.

Technology – unsurprisingly – will get smarter, with more interactive surfaces, allowing workers to work using touch screens and voice control.

Computer screens will still be a fixture in the office but projected or enhanced through walls and windows without the need for standalone PC’s or laptops.

 

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