CoreNet’s EMEAlive 2020 conference took place last week, with a focus on business recovery, continuity, and resilience. CoreNet, a global association for corporate real estate (CRE), explored the opportunity that CRE professionals have to contribute towards businesses recovery as we continue on through the pandemic.
The sessions covered CRE, FM, employee experience, the future of the workplace, sustainability and business continuity. While all of these topics are interlinked, there were a couple of topics that really stood out.
The unsung heroes
The opening session on day one featured a panel discussing the essential workplace and FM employees who have kept buildings safe throughout the crisis. Cleaning has often been overlooked as a service. Indeed, people only notice it when something has gone wrong. Today, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Cleaning and hygiene has been thrust into the spotlight. Consequently, we all have a much greater appreciation for those who make our workplaces safe.
ISS’s Darryl Prince perhaps summed this up best. He noted that the company hadn’t previously positioned cleaning as a core service, but now hygiene and safety are its value proposition.
Everyone on the panel took the opportunity to recognise the people that have been working day in, day out, to keep buildings open. Rakesh Kishan from Transcent Management Consulting noted that some frontline workers had made significant sacrifices. Those working with drug development companies had not gone home to keep a ‘workplace bubble’. Kishan also pointed out that some clients had been dealing with more than the pandemic. Frontline workers in Silicon Valley, for example, have also had to deal with deadly wildfires and air pollution.
Moderator Andrew Hallissey, Colliers International, questioned whether companies had been doing enough to support and recognise frontline workers prior to Covid-19. Michael Davidson of JPMorgan Chase suggested that now everyone had a greater understanding of hygiene, people would be more likely to clean up after themselves rather than leaving it for a cleaner.
Price added that frontline workers had been getting plenty of feedback during the pandemic. He stressed that this must continue afterwards to ensure they remain engaged and supported.
The office versus the home
The other topic that caught the virtual audience’s attention was the future of the workplace, particularly the role of the office versus working from home. This has taken on extra significance considering the new government guidance to work from home where possible, measures that may be in place until next March.
Leesman’s Dr Peggie Rothe addressed this from a data perspective. Leesman launched a home working survey in March and has around 127,000 responses to draw conclusions from. The survey has questions on various work activities and the suitability of the home environment. Responses are calculated into a score out of 100, with anything at 70 or more considered outstanding.
The overall score in the home working survey was 74.2, compared to 63 in Leesman’s regular office survey. Interestingly, more than 82 percent of respondents said their home working environment enables them to work productively. This is almost 20 percentage points higher than the office survey.
Dr Rothe then drilled deeper into different segments. More than 60 percent have an outstanding experience, but about 20 per cent have a very poor one. Younger people tend to have a slightly worse experience. This could be because they are less likely to have a suitable set up at home, or because they miss the social experience of the office more.
Just 40 per cent of respondents have a dedicated home office. That may suffice for occasional home working, but in the long-term businesses will need to ensure that they can support their employees as best as possible to help them remain happy and productive.
Home working experience
There are many factors that impact the home working experience. These include age, gender, activity role and complexity, and home working setting. Dr Rothe suggested that businesses need a deeper understanding of employee roles to strategically plan for both office re-entry and the future of the office. Any strategy must begin with an understanding of how employees experience all the spaces available to them.