As the lockdown gradually eases across the world, the #1 priority for businesses of any kind is to ensure a safe return to the office for all employees. However, comprehending the guidelines issued by each government is a real challenge as businesses try to ensure that their office space is accommodating to the new world, where we will be interacting and collaborating with our colleagues in different ways than before.

The larger your organization is, the more complex the implementation of the new corporate rules and guidelines will be. But one thing remains certain – the processes and protocols of ensuring safety and limiting the risk of contamination will be handled manually.

Not only is this troublesome, but most often is it simply impossible to follow through completely. Humans are creatures of habits and adapting to a new way of life demands structure and automation.

Don’t get me wrong, the process of strategizing reopening, implementing guidelines, and executing and monitoring these is extremely complex and nothing we have ever tried before. Having a plan in place is one major step in the right direction that aligns the entire corporation.


How to automate and ensure safety in three distinct areas

We have been in dialogue with various companies in order to understand their strategy for reopening, and how this varies depending on each national government and their phase of easing the lockdown. However, one thing has been obvious from those dialogues – a key priority for all companies is to ensure a safe return for their employees to an office that is accommodating for the new world post-COVID-19.

We want to help your company with the transition from the lockdown to opening your offices and we have identified three areas in which your guidelines can become automated by using your desks as a metric:

  1. Employee capacity insurance: limit the number of desks available for reservation

  2. Social distancing: make every other desk unavailable for reservation

  3. Avoid race-to-the-office: provide employees with the ability to reserve desks in advance


Employee capacity insurance

Limit the number of desks available for reservation

In the various phases of reopening, many companies have implemented an employee capacity allowance for each stage/phase. Deciding on who is allowed to go to the office is decided on by each department and the respective team leaders. The monitoring of who goes to the office and the weekly reporting of office attendance are a manual process that cannot be adhered to.

Why? Because people forget, team leaders are busy, and e-mailing back and forth only makes it much harder to keep track.

Instead, we propose using your desks as a metric for capacity monitoring.

  1. The first step is to introduce a desk booking system to the organization, wherein all of the desks for each of your locations are implemented.

  2. Depending on your phase in reopening, you can make x% of the desks unavailable for reservation.

  3. This way, you introduce a system for every employee to use, and once the allowed capacity is reached (no more desks are available), employees will not be able to reserve a desk, and then hopefully not go to the office.


Social distancing

Make every other desk unavailable for reservation

Another important priority for your reopening phase is ensuring social distancing among the employees. Many companies have implemented various initiatives to minimize social contact between employees.

Everything from one-way office halls, 1-person capacity in the elevators to lunching in shifts or at one’s desk. For companies with open landscape seating, we have experienced it as a challenge to ensure that employees are not seated too close to one another.

Following the employee capacity allowance, we will again be using desks as a metric for ensuring social distancing. The social distancing of desks can be done with

  1. Making every other desk unavailable for reservation

  2. The system will then present the desk/employee as being occupied (red color indication).

You could, of course, manually measure the distance between the desks and move them around. But come on, isn’t that too complex and time-consuming - and what will you do when social distancing goes from 2 meters to 1 meter? Let us automate that work for you.


Avoid race-to-the-office and travelling during rush hours

Provide employees with the possibility to reserve desks in advance

For larger cities, where public transportation is the fastest way to the office, many employees are left with the worry of contamination when travelling to the office. If you are one of those who have been allowed back to the office, but you have no idea who from your department will be present the following day, the worry and anxiety start to build up.

Where are you going to be seated? Is there a desk for you? When are your colleagues at the office? And did you remember to report to your team leader that you are coming in? However, the most troublesome aspect is the fear of riding a crowded subway during rush hour, and so many people either go to the office before sunrise or not at all.

To provide peace of mind and transparency for you, your employees, and the organization, a desk booking solution will help eliminate many of these issues, as you will have the possibility to:

  1. Pre-reserve a desk for the following day

  2. Reserve a time slot that enables you to travel outside of the rush hour

  3. Work in teams: you can book on behalf of your teammates

  4. Help your team leader and organization keep track of who is at the office and who is not


Flexible seating arrangement or not – you need to consider this!

Introducing a clean desk policy

As mentioned, we are using the desks as the metric to cope with securing the handling of employee capacity, social distancing, and limiting the risk of contamination. These three main areas are where we propose automation of the processes.

But for this to be a success, you should also consider introducing the notion of a “clean desk policy” that entails:

  1. Each employee is to leave the desk clear of personal belongs by the end of the day

  2. Individual supply of keyboard and mouse to be stored in personal lockers

  3. One employee per desk per day – to avoid the risk of contamination.

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