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HR managers are beginning to turn their thoughts to how workplaces might function once people start to return

As the vast majority of company staff members continue to work from home, HR managers are beginning to turn their thoughts to how workplaces might function once people start to return.

Although very few people expect the traditional office-based, five day working week to appear any time soon, many see a hybrid system where staff work from home for two or three days and travel to the office at other times as the best approach.

Split shifts One strategy gaining traction is the idea of introducing split shifts for staff as a means of reducing the number of people in offices at any one time. Groups of staff could be encouraged to spend different days in the office or begin their day before or after their colleagues. Such changes will assist with the challenges of maintaining proper social distancing in a workplace environment. More space can be allocated to each staff member and shared facilities such as large meeting rooms won’t be required.

A resurgence in hot desking


Another approach being contemplated by HR managers is a resurgence in hot desking. While some had anticipated the sanitation requirements amid COVID-19 would kill off the trend, it now appears to offer some significant benefits.

By having fewer staff in the office who share desks, the need for office space decreases. This can translate into cost savings as companies downsize to smaller premises.

Hotdesking can also promote better interaction between staff when in the office. Instead of occupying the same desk in the same spot, staff can move around a department or building, creating new working relationships and sparking idea.

Improved health monitoring

A critical area needing the attention of HR managers is how staff will be monitored to ensure they are exhibiting no signs of illness, and one important component will be undertaking temperature checks as people arrive at the office.

While manual processes work well for small groups of people, a different approach is required when larger numbers need to enter an office in a relatively short space of time. One option is to deploy sophisticated thermal imaging cameras that can measure people’s temperatures as they walk past. Sometimes seen in airports, this technology is likely to become standard for many offices.

An associated challenge, however, is where such cameras should be placed. In large office towers shared by multiple companies, the logical location would be to position them in the main foyer so all people entering can be scanned. However, this poses questions about who should pay for the service and who takes responsibility for its proper operation. HR managers will need to discuss theses issues with building management teams to ensure an appropriate and effective solution can be found.

The rise of the robot worker

Another way in which technology could be put to use in offices is through the introduction of robots. Equipped with a camera and microphone, they can be remotely operated by a staff member who is working from home or another location.

The robots can move around an office while the operating staff member can see and interact with their colleagues. The concept takes video conferencing to the next level and allows remote staff to maintain feelings of being physically connected to their workplace.

Workplaces are clearly going to take a long time to recover from the current pandemic. And, when activity does increase, things are going to be very different.

It’s important that HR managers take time now to understand the options they have available for changing workplaces and the steps that will be needed to keep staff safe and secure in a post-COVID world.


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