This article was originally emailed as issue 138 of our monthly eBulletin at 11:30 on 12/05/2021. You can register here to receive them monthly.
ALL IN, ALL OUT OR HYBRID – WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE?
Organisations of all sizes are exploring plans for some form of return to the office (or not!). This is a demanding time for senior managers and, indeed, for many employees but it is also an outstanding opportunity for planners, designers and facilitators. Clearly, there is no simple solution and every organisation, department and individual will have different needs and insights. Reviewing what works best for your culture, activities, technology, location and demographics will inform your decisions but, inevitably, there may be compromises where operational need restricts your choices. If you want people back, how will you design that Magnetic Office to attract them? Do you need less space? How will you fill the space? Are you providing enough support for your colleagues? How will you communicate to a disparate workforce and how will you maintain (or improve) productivity? I don’t pretend to have all the answers but I have been listening to a lot of very knowledgeable, experienced people. During May, I am creating a series of blogs to examine some of the issues and, as mentioned last month, my free webinar on May 19th gives some insights, tips and observations to address the question ‘What is everyone else doing?’
During one week in April, I attended two conferences that demonstrated how effective a virtual format can be when well executed. Most notable at each event was the diversity and global reach of the speaker panel, the topics and the audience. Removing the restriction of a physical location really extends the potential and influence of an event in a dramatic way.
Over three days, the CIEHF Ergonomics & Human Factors Conference covered a broad gamut of human factors issues, from the involvement of HF professionals in guiding the NHS pandemic response to exploring the future of autonomous systems. In a single day, the Workplace Trends Research Summit covered data-driven topics from the 4 Day Working Week to Workplace Design for a Neurodiverse Workplace. Both were educational, invigorating – and exhausting! Contact me if you would like to chat about either.
MORE PRICE INCREASES
When I mentioned price rises in February, I expected the topic to occur again but I didn’t expect it to be quite so soon! Four of our manufacturers have now issued their second price list in 2021. Increases are averaging 4-5% on top of the rises already implemented within the last five months.
Post-Brexit administration has contributed to this but global shortages of raw materials have also played a significant part. In addition, container transport costs from the Far East have increased by more than 400%. If you are considering any orders or tenders later this year, I strongly advise contacting us to see how we can help fend off unwanted increases. Simply contact the Customer Service team or your Customer Development Manager.
Mental Health Awareness Week follows on closely from Stress Awareness Month. We all now understand the importance of good mental health. In particular, the last prolonged lockdown has put us all to the test and anecdotal homeworker feedback, alongside numerous studies, have brought this clearly into focus.
As a business, we have always maintained the close connection between mental and physical health and we have created a combination of in-house and partner expertise to provide a holistic framework for this. To discuss how we can help with an enterprise approach to all wellbeing issues, contact the Customer Service team or follow a link on our Partnership Services page.
OUR OWN PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
During May, we shall be returning everyone to the office at least some of the time. Our internal research makes interesting reading. Of those currently homeworking full-time, nobody wants to return to the office permanently! Of the staff (including logistics personnel) who had experienced some musculoskeletal discomfort in the last month, half said it had got better and the remainder said it was about the same. 12.5% felt that their mental health had deteriorated in the last six months.
Obviously, we continue to support those who need more help. Our next trial phase will involve nearly all knowledge workers returning to the office at least one day a week. Thereafter, we shall make changes according to feedback. We are also evolving the environments we provide within the office. Also, please note that our Monthly Outlook briefings for all personnel will move to bimonthly so the office will remain closed until 10am on the third Monday of every other month.