Welcome back to the office: Once safe, people will crave face-to-face collaboration again
Navigating the pandemic office work environment, you hear a broad range of potential outcomes, from most businesses going remote to the “6-foot-office” to two-hour lines to get to your floor in a high rise.
The priority of our physical health and safety understandably takes precedence.
Like most businesses, this is where Basin Street Properties' focus is right now for our tenants and employees. Working from home comes with significant intangible costs to your emotional wellbeing, productivity and sense of self within your company.
While we have all found ways to be effective in the new world of remote work and Zoom meetings, it is a holding pattern not a new path forward. As a society that innately craves collaboration, connectivity, and teamwork, this is our offseason.
Many companies are like sports teams that can endure an offseason for a period of time, but must physically come together to align and succeed.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently emphasized that virtual video calls cannot replace in-person meetings.
“What I miss is when you walk into a physical meeting, you are talking to the person that is next to you, you're able to connect with them for the two minutes before and after,” Nadella said.
Without in-person meetings and connections your social capital declines with your team and our accountability and commitment to each other diminishes. It is in our DNA to foster relationships and be part of a team both personally and professionally.
While your team can be maintained for a period through emails and texts and disembodied heads on a screen, it is not a sustainable model.
Safe at Work – Our C.A.R.E.S. Initiative
Before employees can return to work, they need to know it is a safe and clean work environment. At Basin Street, we have followed Centers for Disease Control, state and county guidelines to develop our C.A.R.E.S. Initiative, providing safer and cleaner environments across all our properties as we emerge from shelter-in-place and stay-at-home directives and ordinances.
The C.A.R.E.S. Initiative focuses on five areas to allow us to work together to provide a safer environment and help preserve employee well-being. Those focus areas are:
Signage reminding employees and guests of hand washing protocols.
Place hand sanitizer or wipes in common areas.
Enhanced cleaning protocols for evening janitors and day porters with focus on high touch areas.
Manage HVAC systems to ensure industry standard fresh air ventilation.
Routinely perform maintenance using quality products and review the systems in a holistic fashion for efficiency and performance.
Basin Street has sourced disposable masks that will be allocated, as needed and upon request, to our tenants through our property management offices while supplies last.
Signage at restroom entries to encourage limited occupancy and remind employees and guests of social distancing protocols.
Signage in restrooms for hand-washing protocols.
Signage to remind employees and guests of social distancing protocols as it pertains to elevator cabs as an enclosed space.
Encourage stair access where appropriate.
Reduce or rearrange seating in common areas where possible to encourage social distancing.
Keep shared amenities such as fitness centers, café dining areas, shared bikes and conference rooms closed until further notice.
Signage to remind employees and guests of safe distancing protocols.
Our strategies will evolve as we evaluate changing conditions and the effectiveness of these protocols and procedures.
Do Work at Work
Working from home can be effective for a variety of tasks, but the collaborative team breakthroughs typically happen at the office and cannot be replicated in a Zoom call. Here are a few of the many benefits of a traditional office:
Collaboration: Brainstorming, building on each other ideas, solving problems, exploring tangents that lead to better solutions and working through conflicting ideas all occur in a collaborative work environment.
Innovation and Creativity: Face-to-face meetings are essential for developing new ideas and keeping staff motivated and focused.? The serendipitous informal conversation in the hallway provokes new ideas and inventions.
Productivity and Focus: Separate physical space way from your home and dedicated to productive work allows you to concentrate, collaborate, meet and socialize.
Social Capital: Connecting with your team on a personal level. Building social capital with your teammates and enjoying your own mental health benefits of connecting.
Performance and Motivation: More efficient and effective working together. Face-to-face discussions and competition of ideas. Solving problems as a team. Validation from work peers and customers for your efforts. These are all aspects of work that are best achieved and felt in person, with your team.
Company Culture and Loyalty: Core principles, values and working style shared in team environment. Mentoring and developing your future leaders. Remote working may work for a length of time, but eventually, we will need to get back with our team. It is hard to quantify the value of face-to-face interactions, but this is the most effective way to establish strong working relationships, make breakthroughs, close deals and move our companies forward.
We Believe in Our Tenants. We Believe in Our Communities.
At Basin Street, we are fortunate to serve the best collection of tenants in the world; some for over 25 years. They are innovative, tenacious and driven.
While remote working may address short term demands, these outstanding businesses all need the community, collaboration, culture, friendship, teamwork and serendipity of an office environment. Right now, they are leveraging Satya's “social capital” while weathering these unusual times. We look forward to providing a safe, clean and productive work environment when they return.
Embrace this offseason while we have it. Master the art of zoom, stagger schedules, schedule social calls with your team, while preparing for when we can return to the office. Businesses and people crave the social interaction, collaboration, and relationships of the workplace and when it is safe to do so, they will gladly return to it.
We believe in American resilience and ingenuity, and we are grateful to have an exceptional group of tenants that we can serve and help thrive again. Together we hope to emerge from this stronger than we were before.