The re-design of office spaces has the potential to achieve significant savings for organisations in a post COVID-19 world. This is according to a recent report from McKinsey that cited rent, capital costs, facilities operations, maintenance, and management costs contribute to make real estate the largest cost item — outside of compensation — for most organisations. Collectively, these reals estate costs can be as much as 10- to 20% of the total personnel-driven costs, while a redesign of the office footprint can result in 30% savings over time for some organisations.
The redesign of the office footprint must however be determined by the nature and way of work of the organisation going forward. As organisations relook at the way work is done, remote, hybrid and on-site models come into play, based the nature of roles and requirements of these roles to deliver on the business and strategic objectives of the organisation.
Roles that require minimum levels of personal interaction can easily shift to remote working models, in which employees require access to digital platforms and technologies to perform their work. However, there is no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to the mix of fully remote, hybrid and on-site working models for organisations. Gallup’s paper on “The future of Hybrid Work: 5 Key Questions answered with Data” reflects that out of 140 million US employees surveyed, 53% expected (based on executive input) that work will shift to hybrid schedules from 2022, making hybrid the predominant model.
While the move to hybrid models may have many upsides, including real estate and travel reduction, environmental and social benefits, access to more talent, suppliers and customers, and a stronger business case for business digitization, it does create new challenges for organisations.
Platforms for relationship building, team cohesion, and organisational culture building still need to be made available by employers so that hybrid workers can still have the space to physically meet with their peers and stakeholders in the organisation to socialise, as well as collaborate on work. This also contributes positively to the mental well-being of employees and mitigates the risks of burnout. The layout and design of office spaces as well as the process of managing it has to evolve to accommodate this “ebb and flow” of the hybrid workforce into the physical office space. One of the other factors that impact on remote working South Africans working from the office is load-shedding. Remote employees who do not have back-up power systems usually choose to work from the company office during load-shedding, since they have access to power, connectivity and company digital platforms to conduct their work.
Based on these changes in the nature of work models, the shift to hybrid, and the redesign of office spaces, Macrocomm together with their subsidiary QR Space have set their sights on easing the management overhead faced by office managers in scheduling and allocating shared workspaces for hybrid workers.
QR Space, a young South African digital start-up has developed a simple yet novel approach to solving the booking of office spaces, including hot desks, meeting rooms, and recreational areas. The solution is based on tagging all identified workspaces with a physical QR code, which employees can simply scan to view availability as well as log their time and duration when booking. Attributes including employees detail, temperature, and other COVID-19 screening questions can be recorded on the booking application, thus enabling office managers to ensure mandatory company compliance and governance requirements. As a locally developed solution, it is significantly cost-efficient when compared to competing solutions, is simple to implement, and can be integrated into third-party applications such as access and camera analytics systems.
“Our Internet of Office Space solution, which gives physical offices a digital voice, is definitely a move in the right direction in supporting and increasing the adoption of hybrid workforce models. At the same time, organisations are able to efficiently manage the allocation and governance of shared workspaces”, says James Wiles, CEO of QR Space.
Sivi Moodley, CEO of Macrocomm, also believes that there are many more benefits to society from enabling the increased adoption of hybrid work models.“ Hybrid work promotes the migration of office applications to the cloud, which enables organisation to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint —˜since most cloud-based data centers are on a path to green energy. In addition to this, physical commuting is reduced resulting in lower levels of emissions and noise pollution; more importantly, hybrid work models give employees the flexibility that contributes to improved employee wellbeing. These capabilities can therefore be utilised by organisations in meeting the environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives”, concludes Sivi.
Macrocomm is a premier innovation and technology agnostic led provider of data driven digital solutions. Our solutions are not just focused of connectivity and technology, but they aim to solve societal problems in a Smart Made Simple way. The Macrocomm group of companies play across all stages in the digital value chain including devices, connectivity, platforms, application and software development, systems integration and training and development. This enables us to innovate across the digital value chain to deliver bespoke as well as generic solutions in a manner that leverages both scope and scale. We service a range of verticals including municipalities, fleet, agriculture, facilities management, health, mining, retail and logistics. Our key partners include Vodacom, Sigfox, FAW, University of Stellenbosch, Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Orange.