The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the questioning of many aspects of how we work and live. This includes how facilities management needs to change to respond to changing user demands. With the pandemic, many people enjoyed the benefits of working from home and it is important to consider how the management of workplaces can respond to this. Benefits of working from home include:
- Not having to travel back and forth to work and sit in traffic jams.
- Being able to focus on work and not being interrupted.
- More control over personal working space and being able to choose furniture and layouts.
- Better connection with outside spaces and gardens where breaks can be enjoyed.
- Increased flexibility and being able to schedule work around personal activities, such as exercise and picking up children from school.
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 a defined number of 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.
- Pleasant outside spaces can be provided to enable people to have a break from work.
- Local exercise facilities such as running tracks, changing arrangements and showers could be provided.
- Greater choice of furniture, fittings and workspace arrangements could be provided to allow people to personalise their space.
- Social aspects of work could be enhanced by providing spaces such as cafes where people could meet and interact easily. Regular social events could also be held.
- 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.
- Partnerships with local entrepreneurs could be developed to increase access to services and products that are needed on a daily basis. These include grocery shopping, banking services and childcare. Providing these services and products within or near work can reduce the time and travel people require to access these and work environments more 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.