Are we ever going to go back to normal?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do business, and there have been widespread discussions about how employees might safely return to work. Remote working seems to be the future for many industries, and the real estate and facilities management sector looks to be no different. However, there are ongoing discussions about how companies might facilitate safe physical return to the workplace.


Here are a few factors being considered to help employees return to work safely.


1. Rationalising Real Estate Portfolios

As with a lot of businesses across the world since the pandemic hit, organisations are looking to embrace remote working as much as possible. Many employees can adequately and wholly perform tasks remotely, so this looks set to become the norm. However, hybrid workplaces are planned for 2021, which will allow companies to combine remote working with office-based work in smaller facilities portfolios.


2. Deploying New Technologies
Digital procurement managers are looking to advance and accelerate the integration of remote working technologies that will improve job functionality. Tools such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams have taken on greater significance at this time. What’s more, emerging augmented and virtual reality technologies are viewed as a great way of assisting remote working too. Safety, security, and efficiency are just some of the core reasons technology is essential for facilities; it allows them to conduct training and health & safety inspections without the need for lots of people on-site. Furthermore, maintaining social distancing is much more achievable when implementing newer technologies.


3. Adjusting The Scope of Facilities Services
In fitting with the reduction of people on-site, businesses have reduced the use of cleaning, reception and catering services at these facilities. Obviously, industries like manufacturing and production don’t function as well with remote working, so their facilities management providers need to take a different stance. For instance, increasing hygiene procedures as well as supplying PPE and temperature checks for employees and visitors.

This shows the need for flexibility into future facilities services contracts. During a recent Procurement Leaders roundtable discussion, one professional services company detailed how they insisted on a clause in their facilities contracts that would allow for scaling services up or down where necessary, with no additional cost.