24 Jul 2020

VITAL STATS EVERY FM SHOULD KNOW AS WORKPLACE REOPENS

Facilities Management sits at the center of the workplace, particularly now that the world is experiencing unprecedented health, economic and financial challenges.

The past few months have seen the gradual reopening of most economies, and by extension the workplaces, amidst very strict safety and health protocol.

The return to the workplace is interestingly throwing a new shade of challenge at Facilities Management. Therefore, it behooves FM professionals to be aware of these new realities and work with the appropriate stakeholders to ensure that people’s experiences in the workplaces are optimal and business results are also not adversely impacted.

For example, a YouGov poll, commissioned by the Institute of Workplace Facility & Management (IWFM) on workplace recovery reveals that as lockdown measures begin to ease, many UK office workers are concerned about going back to the office.

The poll shows that 59% of UK workers are worried about being able to maintain social distancing, and nearly half – 44% are concerned about hygiene and cleaning standards in the office. Although the poll was conducted in the UK, the Nigerian experience is not likely to be different with many already raising serious concerns.

This reality clearly puts a challenge on the table of the FM professionals to physically and emotionally allay the fears of these office workers in ways that productivity is enhanced because people are assured that the FM is taking care of health risks associated with the workplaces.

At another level, the poll also revealed that over a third (34%) of the surveyed population are concerned about getting used to a corporate office culture again after the lockdown.

This is not unusual particularly with most professionals having to work from home and take care of domestic issues such as children, aged parents, etc. This period presents more to the FM than the physical management of building facilities. It seeks that FM explore its business support function role deeply, provide space management support to business functions such as HR to create the right workplace environment that is welcoming to people and a working system that takes cognizance of employees’ domestic responsibilities.

On the other hand, the poll reveals: “41% also reports having an inappropriate working environment at home. Only a quarter (24%) benefit from a separate home office, with two-thirds (64%) resorting to make-shift workstations at dining room tables, sofas and beds. “

“Half of the respondents (50%) report that they find it difficult to stay motivated and focused when working from home, and 44% facing challenges with distractions in the home. Those working from sofas and armchairs are taking a productivity hit – with 18% reporting a lack of motivation and over a quarter (25%) working fewer hours per day than they did in the office.”

“Working from home is blurring lines between work and personal life. 38% find it hard to switch off at the end of the day and a 25% feel pressure to respond to emails after working hours. 62% miss a clear separation between work and home life, and 40% miss a clear structure to the day.”

Although, these quoted stats may differ from location to location, and speak to office workers’ experience while working from home, the FM professionals must not lose sight of the nuanced issues and prepare accordingly to address these issues with the physical building management, the process automation, and working with business stakeholders to ensure that people policies respond to the challenges thrown up by the stats.

Click here to read on some of the trends and challenges facing Facility Management as workplace activities return.  

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