Just a month ago, our end users, security teams at property management companies, Fortune 500s, universities, and military bases, had to scramble to adjust to a remote-first work culture. A transformation that organizations typically make over the course of years security teams had to complete in a matter of days.
For these teams, the bigger challenge is yet to come: before a vaccine or better treatment exists, what happens as employees return to the office? Smaller companies are much better equipped to work remote, whereas larger companies with legacy technology, will have to return to the office.
Physical security teams are developing new policies that include:
- Monitoring of employee health and potential future outbreaks
- Contact tracing and quarantine if employees get sick
- Sanitation, disinfection, and quarantine if facilities become contaminated
- Facility use, access restrictions, and schedule rotations
- Business travel, internal and external events
- Security staffing levels
We put together the following list to provide a broad overview of how the workplace will change in an effort to help security teams as they prepare for the end of this first and hopefully only widespread quarantine.
Tech:NYC is compiling and publishing return-to-office plans, check out their COVID guide here.
More Monitoring, Less Privacy, & More Security
From the Federal Government:
- Employers are encouraged to monitor their workforces for indicative symptoms and to disallow symptomatic people to physically return to their workplace until cleared by a medical provider.
- Employers are also encouraged to develop and implement policies and procedures for workforce contact tracing following instances in which employees test positive for COVID-19.
For employees, this means less privacy:
- Employers are grappling with how to run temperature checks for everyone arriving at work; how do they store that private data? How do they notify the employee and anyone they came in contact with?
- While there are some privacy-compliant efforts underway to solve this problem in our personal lives, at work, there’s no easy way around employers collecting and storing health details about their employees.
And more data-driven accountability:
- Working remote means more data-driven tools to track, measure, and report on employee productivity. Managers can’t just stop by an employee’s office, so they need new tools and data sources to keep track of productivity.
Stricter security policies:
- Employers will spend more time, attention, and dollars on decreasing risks of their now much more remote and flexible workforce. Implementing stricter security policies, cyber and physical, will be a part of this change.
More Remote Work, Less Travel, & Less Physical Proximity
Business travel will remain low for at least a year:
More people will work from home more of the time:
- As it turns out, many employees can efficiently operate in a remote work environment; very few companies will return to having everyone in the office every day.
- Productivity will even increase.
Less physical proximity means less in-person interactions:
- This social distancing measure could mean less spontaneous conversations in the hallway or over lunch, less “aha moments,” and less cross-pollination of ideas unless companies can find virtual ways to allow for unstructured conversation.
A Changed Physical Office
Less dense commercial real estate property
- Hot-desking and flexible workspace trends will accelerate, but in new ways. Cushman & Wakefield is talking about the 6 Feet Office, keeping distance between all desks and workers.
- Companies will need less square footage per employee and less conference rooms for meetings, office spaces will decrease in size.
This is potentially a boon for smaller cities and towns, accelerating an existing trend:
- This may mean more, smaller offices spread out across a larger geography.
More Honest, Trust-Based Organizations
Remote work demands better documentation and standardization of procedures.
- This can improve decision-making by opening up the process to more people, putting arguments in writing instead of leaving a decision up to who’s loudest at a meeting. Jeff Bezos has built Amazon on this approach.
- Introverts will be able to influence decisions more.
- Trust and brutal honesty are now much more valuable, especially at the executive level, as denial of the crisis at hand will drive away employees and customers and could even get people sick.
A Different Work Culture
Meeting culture will change:
- Meetings can be shorter and more efficient, without needing to all gather in one room for a simple update. Employees who don’t really need to pay attention to the meeting won’t have to pretend to pay attention.
- There will be more strategic appreciation for when and why you should meet in person — the default will be a virtual meeting, not in-person.
In-person interactions will be less frequent, and more meaningful:
- Since they happen less frequently, everyone will value in-person time more when it does happen.
Co-workers will have different relationships:
- Less after-work beer, lunchtime conversations to develop deeper friendships
- The power suit means less on a Zoom call, work relationships will become less formal and more personal, especially as everyone will now have seen each other’s homes.
More Learning, Growth, and Innovation
Employers have to be more flexible and agile to survive this crisis, hopefully leading to more opportunities for innovation and new ways of thinking and operating.
Virtual conferences will draw (possibly smaller) more diverse audiences from a wider geography and variety of disciplines.
- Many will forego the expense of in-person events, meeting more frequently at smaller, more focused virtual events and occasionally in-person.
- You’ll potentially be able to access more sessions if they’re not all happening crammed into a few days in one location.
There will be less of a “working parent” penalty for events happening outside of 9-5. 7 pm event in Manhattan? No problem if it’s virtual.