2021 added a sequel to the turbulent work environment introduced in 2020 and we felt the “new normal” set in. Over the COVID-19 era we saw the workplace visitation process, for visitors and employees, evolve from simple walk-ins into a complex variety of processes, procedures and controls. What was clear is that many businesses have introduced and settled on a hybrid workspace environment. This allows for employees and visitors to access workspace resources or to work from home, as required.
The Hybrid Office
The hybrid office seems to benefit employees and visitors as well as workspace facilities. Employees have the luxury of working from home as well as having access to resources supplied only at the office, such as boardrooms and office facilities, while businesses have begun to optimise their expensive office space and assets.
The Importance of the Employee
Another strong trend has been the shift of focus from the business to the employee. COVID-19 work environments have shattered the status quo of the 9-5 at the office. Employees were able to prove that productive work can continue from home – thanks, in part, to technological platforms such as Zoom and Teams. Throw in reduced travel times (and costs), more efficient meeting scheduling, quality family time and a plethora of other at-home conveniences, it is clear that employee expectations have shifted.
The new challenge is no longer ‘How do we increase productivity?’ but ‘How do we keep our employees engaged and identifying with our company?’. We have seen companies implementing creative solutions to drive employee collaboration and engagement. Online social and games sessions, one (or two) weekly office ‘enrichment’ days aimed at training and collaboration sessions and regular online ‘stand-ups’ are a few common features. The take-away is that employees have new workplace expectations and businesses are having to make allowances while increasing efforts towards creating company culture.
Onsite Automation and Control
Developing a hybrid workspace requires a level of automation and control. Small businesses may want to ensure that only employees or visitors who have completed a COVID-19 questionnaire or are vaccinated against COVID-19 enter the office. Larger facilities may also want to introduce parking, workspace and asset booking to optimise their flexible workspace. Other businesses require automated access control to allow only authorised individuals with a booking to enter and exit certain sections of the facility. Businesses are also doubling down on technological platforms to engage with their employees and facilitate more efficient workplace processes.
Kenai in 2021
At Kenai, 2021 was the year of supporting the hybrid workspace. We identified the need for more automation, dynamic space and asset utilisation through our clients and partners and began adding to our existing workspace feature set.
The large themes were:
- Extra COVID-19 screening options for Employees and Visitors,
- Parking and Space booking,
- Dynamic Communication and Instructions,
- Advanced Access Control integration,
- and Integration into other existing workspace utilisation systems.
Having several workplace platforms working independently was common in the pre-COVID era. However, the distanced ecology falls short when hybrid work is concerned as many processes are now co-dependent. At Kenai, we find our platform as the ‘front-facing’ workplace system because we are the first touchpoint for Visitors and Employees. Kenai has increased integration efforts and adapted to passing on information capture and user enrolment into the rest of the workspace ecosystem.
We plan on continuing the journey of creating tools to support a safe, impressive and efficient workspace in 2022. If you are busy with establishing your hybrid-workspace ecosystem, we would love to join you in achieving the ideal 2022 office.