Global research firm Gartner says increased remote working arrangements and underutilised existing office spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic will trigger a need for smart, wellness-equipped office spaces in the future.
To help organisations save costs and create safer office spaces, the advisory company says Application and IT leaders should start investing in advanced technologies to create wellness-monitored, safe workplaces.
“Due to COVID-19 many offices remain unoccupied or underutilized as employees choose to work remotely,” said Gavin Tay, research vice president at Gartner. “However, once lockdowns ease, employees planning to return to the office will have heightened concerns about personal health and safety. Offices that have been turned into smart, wellness-equipped spaces make employees feel safer.”
The build a wellness-monitored office, Gartner says organisations can start by using integrated workplace management systems (IWMS) solutions to supervise the health and safety of employees. IWMS and resource scheduling applications (RSAs) that work through artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) can remind employees to practice and maintain social distancing measures through motion sensors and beacons. Organisations should also stay on top of contact tracing efforts and promote the use of virtual personal assistants (VPAs) as wellness coaches.
Gartner also recommends investing in systems that monitor air quality in real time, aside from strict implementation of hygiene policies with the support of thermal imaging systems. Organisations would also benefit from technology that have the ability to continuously disinfect surroundings and improve air quality by reducing airborne and surface contaminants like viruses, bacteria, germs, volatile organic compounds, smoke, and other allergens.
“Ultimately, cleaner air allows for improved recycling of air, which will contribute to energy-saving benefits as well as make the workplace healthier,” according to the report.
“Strategies that focus on facilities modernization, more agile work environments and the value of employee experience will shape demands in smart workspace technologies.”
While organisations are expected to incur additional costs from converting existing offices to wellness-equipped spaces, the improvements will benefit employees who do not want to work remotely or who lack a good work environment at home. Gartner also sees it as an additional revenue opportunity for businesses.
“Organizations can offer empty office spaces to co-working vendors, pitching them as smart and sustainable, healthy office spaces that can be managed with technologies and tools,” said Rashmi Choudhary, principal research analyst at Gartner.
“After creating healthy co-working spaces out of the loss-bearing corporate real estate, remote workers with difficult work environments can use these office spaces. Booking co-working spaces whenever required through resource scheduling applications will become a convenience.”
More insights into wellness-monitored offices spaces are available in the Gartner report titled “Transform Ghost Offices Into 24/7 Wellness-Monitored Co-working Offices and Capitalize on Tax Relief.”