Leena Kurup, Head of Facilities, India and EU, Globant

Leena Kurup, Head of Facilities, India and EU, Globant

The industry as a whole is facing unprecedented times with CoVID-19. Many organisations are facing numerous challenges and there definitely are several alterations being adapted to operate in this era of “The New Normal”.  This certainly is a unique period and has brought numerous opportunities to be innovative and deliver solutions that, primarily, take into consideration the safety of the workforce while ensuring business continuity and the fact that the business is not impacted adversely.

Now that many organisations are working remotely, decision-makers and leadership teams have had to rethink how they do things. Furthermore, there is an enhanced focus on values like trust and empathy as these are the values that strengthen the bond between people.
In order to normalise the process of remote working, employee engagement is the key. Ensuring that leadership teams and managers are connecting with the respective teams and acknowledging that it does take a lot of time, is necessary to ensure the employees' emotional quotient as mental health is upbeat. Taking cognisance of the fact that the personal and professional spaces are now merged is of utmost importance.

While we do live in a connected digital world, we need to acknowledge the reality that numerous organisations would find it increasingly challenging to continue their Work from Home (WFH) models in the long run.  Organisations whose business models restrict the WFH operation models would necessarily need to return and this scenario definitely leads to the creation of a “New Normal”.  The WFH experience most of us are experiencing is different from the experience we have in office spaces. For example, while meetings via VC can be an efficient use of time and resources, it cannot replace the interaction of a face to face meeting.

Giving this experience in a safer way back to the employees in the office space is crucial and organisations are getting ready to invest in industry-leading practices and processes to ensure that when the workforce returns, the office feels safer and is even more comfortable than before.

In order to usher in the “new normal”, office spaces and designs are being revamped and collaborative spaces are being replaced in favour of personal spaces. Meeting rooms are being repurposed and open spaces are being reconfigured.  The use of technology is no longer a luxury but a necessity and contact-less products are becoming a trend. The launch and usage of innovative products are on the rise too.

Air Conditioning units are being serviced more frequently, which also includes disinfecting the filters.  A new protocol is in place to ensure regular sanitisation of hands and equipment - especially high contact points like door hands. Health checks for all the third party visitors (vendors) have been made mandatory.

Tracking employee movement is a necessary evil today, albeit challenging. The travel history is recorded to avoid any health issues. Educating and training employees returning to the office on the new protocols is essentially being carried out and various signages are placed around the office to ensure social distancing norms are adhered to.

Numerous tools and applications are being leveraged by organisations in the CoVID-19 scenario - be it readily available or developed internally. The idea is to ensure a connected experience, where the employee is comfortable connecting from his/her home and still delivers the required amounts of productivity and efficiency. Apps are developed to ensure that employee coming to the office feels comfortable and safe. The following table gives a bird’s eye view of the tools being leveraged in these unprecedented times:

The post-CoVID-19 era is all about adapting rapidly to accommodate the new normal whilst trying to maintain some semblance of the familiar. It is indeed a huge challenge; however, it has to be addressed.  Individuals are every organisation's valuable assets and everyone’s comfort and risk level alters so it’s important to consider the requirements/needs of each person. Density of the workplace and meeting rooms will indeed change and the SOP for Maintenance will be redefined. Contactless solutions will be the need of the hour.
Moving forward, virtual collaborations will indeed be explored. The interaction will change the timelines to execute and build office spaces will change. The real estate definition (sq.ft per person) will be changed too.

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