18 Jun Avoid the chaos of reboarding with the use of digital resources.
Employees carefully return to the office, while other employees enjoy working from home for a longer period of time. Opinions about working from home are divided and tainted by the whole situation around it. Working from home recently often involved homeschooling, changing the duties of many employees and causing an overall feeling of insecurity. But now that employees are quietly returning to the office, in the new circumstances, this will change the perception of office work and working from home.
The future will be a period of exploration in which feedback loops will play an important role in workplace strategy, occupancy levels will peak and fall, and experiences and preferences will change. In flexible organisations, for example, the occupation will influence itself. If the office becomes too busy, employees will enjoy working from home again, which means that the office empties and people want to return to the office. And of course, everyone wants to work from home on Wednesdays and Fridays, so it gets busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We can therefore expect turbulent occupancy rates in the office’s capabilities.
It will take a while before the office regains a stable occupation which is experienced as pleasant. At that time, feelings of safety, pressure and stress will still have an effect on the well-being and productivity of employees. That is why – in order to ensure that this process runs smoothly – it is wise to closely monitor the occupation and to take immediate measures where and when necessary.
But with occupancy tracking, we prefer not to have people walking past the desks to reduce the contamination risk. Preference is primarily given to the use of sensors. Sensors provide objectively reliable information (binary, with a one or zero) when the occupancy peaks occur. Sensors, however, lack the subjective side of the workplace experience. A high occupancy (according to Post COVID-19 standard) does not immediately mean that employees also experience the workplace as busy and unsafe.
With questionnaires, you can immediately investigate these aspects and determine whether peak occupancy is a problem. You can also ask employees on which days they will come to the office next week, without having to let go of complex algorithms. But throwing out a long questionnaire gives relatively little meaningful information in these changing times. The experience of working from home and being at the office will change in the coming months. By taking short questionnaires more frequently (also called experience sampling) through a smartphone app, you get real-time, subjective information: experience in well-being and experience with the current workplace. It also makes the difference between working from home and working at the office very clear. You don’t have to constantly bother your employees with physical observations in the office and/or a one-off long questionnaire, but you give them an accessible platform where they can go at any time. This also provides a weekly reflection focused on their well-being, which has advantages for both parties.
Facilitating and monitoring the home workplace is also becoming increasingly important due to the changing relationships between working from home and the office. After a few months of working from home, for example, the RSI complaints can increase because people do not have a good home working setting. Of course, this does not have to be measured and inventoried daily, but periodic digital questionnaires are useful for this.
All in all, it is clear that both office and home working will take on a different role and there is a good chance that returning to the office will precede a period of (relative) chaos if this is not managed properly. It is therefore advisable to use sensors, apps with experience sampling and/or questionnaires so that employees feel safe and healthy in their own workplace and can work effectively for their organisation.