As you walk into the building, youre greeted by a thermal temperature check, your attendance is registered via your iris and arrows on the floor tell you where to walk. You wave at your co-worker from afar, saving chit chat for g-chatting while you eat lunch at your desk. Sometimes people stand in a large circle, semi-shouting gossip at each other, but more often than not, gestures and facial expressions (as many of them as the mask youre made to don will allow) make up for the words youd ordinarily say. Welcome to the office, new and made especially for a pandemic.
As offices start opening across the country, many corporates and businesses are having to reckon with the new normal. While some are not planning on lifting WFH anytime soon, others have allowed employees to start trickling in to their workplaces. But its not just the infrastructure and design of offices that has changed and will stay different for the forseeable future, but also the very experience of being in office is evolving, particularly given what an important aspect social interaction is to spending time in office.
There are certain changes that are common across the board for organisations, based on the new standard operation procedure that has been outlined. A Snapdeal spokesperson says they have “installed social distance markers in shared spaces like the cafeteria, coffee machines, and printer hubs. We have also reduced the availability of workstations to adhere to social distancing. Meeting rooms will have reduced occupancy, which has been marked out for each such room. For instance, a 10-seater room will have a maximum of 4 occupants at any point.” Some organisations are doing away with coffee machines and cafeterias and asking employees to bring their own food. KPMG has carried out sterifune fumigation in their offices, according to Unmesh Pawar, Partner and Head – People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India. “Only 33% of the office capacity had been allocated for staff to come in Phase 1 on a rotational basis and in Phase 2, which started 13 July, it is 50% of our seating capacity in each office, which means office is accessible to anyone who wishes to come. We are encouraging our employees to work from home or clients location as the need may be and asking them to avoid unnecessary commute,” he says.
Architectural firms are designing new offices to suit our needs, like the six-feet office designed by Cushman and Wakefield which ensures people are 6 feet away at all times. The open-plan office, many say, is dead — and the cubicle is set to make a comeback. Measures like flexible desks and rostered timings are being considered in organisations across the world, which means that not everyone will be in office at the same time, and the current 9-to-5 lifestyle we've gotten so accustomed to may be a thing of the past. In other cases, some may be asked to work from home permanently. Flexibility, some argue, will be the way forward, with many tech firms like Twitter giving workers the option to work from home permanently. Prof André Spicer, from City University's Cass Business School told BBC of the behavioural impacts such a system could have — people who WFH are less visible. "Particularly in times of economic crisis, people will start thinking: I want to be in the workplace, the boss needs to see me," he said.
Most offices arent compelling employees to start coming in, and are leaving the decision up to them. Sandeep Kohli, Partner and Talent Leader, EY India, says that they have opened all their offices across the country, but have left it up to their employees if theyd like to come in or go to a clients office for a meeting. Other than the usual measures of temperature checks and aggressive santisation, EY has also introduced an app for employees. Kohli says, “We have an app called access to office and no one can start coming in unless they apply to do so on the app. The reason for this is that they can certify that they are feeling fine, not living in a containment zone and wont be using public transport to come to office.” Once someone is approved, theyre allocated a specific desk that they can sit on.
Many of us have become aware of the importance of the social dynamic of being in office after months of working from home. (Some of us have also realised how little we actually do at work because chai-sutta breaks and long lunches take up much of our time.) Ayushi, a 24-year-old policy analyst at a management consulting firm in Hyderabad has been going to office for about two months now. “Were working with about 30% of the staff coming in and were never in a closed room. I miss eating together because thats usually our chit-chat and fun time. It feels very strange, because we come to office, finish our work and then leave. We dont really spend that extra time talking and socialising,” she says. Theyre also having to adjust to new rules, including using a personal door opener to go to the loo – “theyre like clips to hold the door handle open”.
While some of us may feel that claims that things are going to change are exaggerated, most TOI spoke to agreed – this avatar of the office is here to stay until theres a vaccine available. Rajneesh Singh, co-founder of HR consultancy SimplyHR says, “100% attendance is a long way off. With many cities not yet having reached their peak, we still have a ways to go.”
Looking to the future, some see more fundamental changes in the structures associated with how we work. JLL, the global commercial real estate Read More – Source