National, 11th December, 2020: While Office space and Facility managers have prepared the new normal that ensures a safe and hygienic environment for employees to return to work, employees are still not comfortable getting back. While it is understandable that a quotient of fear will continue to prevail until we get access to vaccines and immunity against the virus, we must look at the factors that surround this module of working from the office space.
Two much-spoken words in 2020 are ‘Safety’ and ‘Hygiene.’ Unfortunately, these are being termed as provisions rather than human virtues that are imbibed at our very base. Pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and even post-pandemic, it is critical for our understanding that ethical and professional Facility Management Organizations have always prioritized this need and delivered with updated and proficient material and tools currently available to us.
Although, yes, the frequency and auditing standards of our processes and practices have certainly been reshaped to fulfill the updated Environmental Health & Safety and Compliance norms set by statutory bodies. But isn’t this how our entire world has been reshaped through time? Every time we were faced with a major challenge, we have had to adapt and better what we have already been doing to cater to progress and development. This change is constant and imperative to our growth as a race.
So, while the facility management and real estate providers have gained much limelight over their readiness and preparedness to deliver a safe and hygienic workplace, let’ take a step back to discuss some of the other factors that may be a challenge to a fully occupied office space.
One of the major most aspects to consider is subconscious fear. Ironically, the majority of well-paid professionals find it safe to travel overseas to beach destinations in fully booked airplanes. So, is this selective fear, or is there something that their management is not addressing? Considering we are talking about proficient organizations with ethical values, I feel it is the former.
Public transportation is another critical area that is a hindrance to return to office space. Especially in a country like India, given our population, it is understandable to an extent, that it might not be the safest mode of transport and not many have the luxury and affordability for private transport services.
Another possible aspect could be the guidelines followed by global companies. While a majority of the offices have their Headquarters in the USA and Europe who are facing the crux of the second wave of the virus, it is only safe on their part to issue a global mandate to all their employees to work from home until we are absolutely safe.
Food for thought, is work from home a better option for organizations? Given that IT organizations and few enterprises have the necessary infrastructure and forte to deliver with this module, it is definitely something to venture into if it increases profitability and performance. Although a majority of organizations cannot leverage this model due to multiple concerns, a mix of both and redesigning of workspace for flexibility will prove to be the next normal in work modules.
Despite the comfort many gain through working from home, there are certain aspects of working from an office which can never be replaced. Infrastructure, a work-life balance, networking and collaborating, and building relationships with peers and colleagues are important for the morale of a successful organization. Most importantly, resonating with a collective consciousness is key to the success of an organization. Think about this, we can pray from home, yet we go to the temple. Our children can be home tutored, yet we send them to school. We can work out in the comfort of our homes, yet we feel more motivated when in a gym filled with people. The reason for this is because these are portals to a collective consciousness, like your office, it is where you can truly fulfill your purpose without distractions.
Also, the drastic impact that this new structure would have on the economy. There are too many small businesses and services that are highly dependent on office spaces and office commute. Without employees returning to work, the implications are serious. There isn’t enough being done about this for the only acceptable reason that is our own safety. If that is addressed, it is a sheer responsibility of the employee and end-user to return to the office and reshape the economy.