Organisations need to rethink on office spaces, technologies

WeWork is supporting employees with a more distributed workforce or rotational employee shifts.

  
Business colleagues pointing at laptop screen while discussing plans and sitting by glass partition at office. Image used for illustrative purpose,

Business colleagues pointing at laptop screen while discussing plans and sitting by glass partition at office. Image used for illustrative purpose,

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Businesses across the UAE will need to rethink their office spaces, both in terms of design as well as technologies that will become a crucial component of social distancing safety measures, experts said.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Stephen Anderson, PwC Middle East Strategy and Markets Leader, noted that workplaces have not been designed with physical distancing in mind.

"On the contrary, many organisations have previously focused on driving collaboration and innovation with the help of meeting rooms and social collision areas - and this is going to have to change," he said.

Companies, he explained, will need to redesign workspaces with physical distancing in mind, increase hygiene and sanitation measures and invest in employee safety. According to PwC's CFO Pulse report, 65 per cent of UAE CFOs are planning to change workplace safety measures and requirements, and just under 50 per cent are planning to reconfigure work sites to promote physical distancing.

"We are also seeing many clients implement bespoke contract tracing applications for their workforce alongside mass testing and enhanced safety measures," he said.

Anderson also noted that many organisations have had a positive experience with remote working. "Organisations will look to preserve some of the benefits from remote working, such as better engagement, communications, and efficiencies, and look to reduce their office footprint going forward."

Riad Thoumas, general manager of WeWork UAE, noted that it is important to closely adhere to govern ment guidance when developing plans to help employees' transition back to the workplace.

"We are implementing best practices around professional distancing, cleanliness, and behavioural signage, so our members and employees feel comfortable and safe at work, without losing the sense of connection and community that our spaces are known for. We'll continue to listen closely to our members and new clients about how we can anticipate and manage their needs for their future office space, whether that is supporting them with flexible ways of working with a more distributed workforce, or rotational employee shifts," Thoumas said.

Jeroen Schlosser, managing director for the Mena region at Equinix, also shared several insights on the role that technology will play in the offices of the future. The new digital workplace will depend on latency-sensitive applications and a superior user experience using technologies such as digital payments, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), and artificial intelligence (AI) and automation in all fields will be in focus in post Covid-era, he said.

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