In updating my course on Strategic Facilities Management I reflect on how COVID-19 is changing facilities management.
Many people, having worked from home, have enjoyed the benefits of this and are reluctant to give this up. It is, therefore, important consider how workplaces can complement working from home and maintain the benefits of this. Facilities managers need to understand what worked well for people working from home. This may include the following:
- Better connection with outside spaces and gardens where breaks can be enjoyed.
- Increased flexibility and being able to do tasks like pick up children from school without this having to do this in a rush between meetings.
- More control over personal working space and being able to choose furniture and layouts.
- Not having to travel back and forth to work and sit in traffic jams.
- Being able to exercise and shower when this is convenient.
- Being able to focus on work and not being interrupted.
More flexible, responsive facilities and management approaches can be used to ensure these benefits are not lost when people return to work through the following measures:
- Hybrid working arrangements can be designed where people continue to work from home and come in for meetings or for 1 or 2 days a week.
- Flexible work hours could be arranged so the people can work ‘core-hours’ such as 10:00 – 14:00 and then arrive and leave earlier or later depending on what suited them.
- Organisations could support lift clubs, negotiate with municipalities over public transport routes and make arrangements with private providers to make travel to work easier and less expensive.
- Local exercise facilities such as running tracks, changing arrangements and showers could be provided.
- The social aspects of work could be enhanced by providing spaces where people could meet and interact easily, such as a cafe. Regular social events could also be held.
- Partnerships with local entrepreneurs could be developed to increase access to services and products that are needed regularly. These include grocery shopping, banking services, childcare and hairdressing. Providing these services and products within or near work can reduce the time and travel people require to access these and make coming to work convenient.
- Organisations with large campuses may wish to consider making these more mixed-use and include residential accommodation on-site. In particular, this could help attract students and early-stage workers who may find accommodation and travel in cities expensive. Increasing onsite or nearby residential accommodation ensures there are more activities and life around workplaces and support the development of local amenities such as cafes, and recreation and sports facilities.
- Pleasant outside spaces can be provided to enable people to have a break from work.
- Greater choice of furniture, fittings and workspace arrangements could be provided to allow people to personalise their space.