• Brad Gibbon

Making it Real

We wrote in our last post about the challenge of reopening our economies and our workspaces. It’s a struggle to get a level-headed view of what’s to come, and what employers should do to reintegrate staff into office environments. Indeed, one of the cautionary signs in any article or interview is when someone pronounces “This is the end of…”

Because it’s not, as disruptive as the pandemic restrictions have been, and will continue to be. It was thus refreshing to read a couple of pieces, one from the brokerage Avison Young, another from Bloomberg Law, that took a more detached and realistic view of how we’ll all get back to work.

The Bloomberg Law article ran through a series of pragmatic steps employers should take to ensure worker safety at the workplace. The Avison report reiterated much of this, but also posed the thought-provoking question of what will happen when a vaccine is ready.

There has been a historically-unprecedented collaboration of research teams globally to uncover the mysteries of this truly novel coronavirus, and of an effective vaccine. While nothing is known for certain, it is likely that such a remedy will be ready in about 18 months. As the Avision report questions, are we really going to make all of the permanent changes to how we work that most prognosticators think we will, once a vaccine is widely available?

We don’t think so, so the prudent approach is to plan for a long but temporary “new normal” where we do undertake to make our workspaces as safe as possible. And that’s where FastOffice comes in, and as we move out of pandemic restrictions, where we’ll continue to add value.

Let’s be blunt. If an employer has a small office, it’s pretty simple to figure out six foot separations, safe design of common areas and circulation patterns and so forth. But what if the employer occupies 20-30,000 square feet, with a large number of employees? Are they really going to get out tape measures, and move furniture around until it “looks right?”

Of course not. They’re going to work from plans, possibly move furniture cutouts around on paper or—more likely—engage their interior designers or architects to draft up some options. Or they can use FastOffice.

Our platform has the ability to convert a tenant’s 2D office and furniture layout into a dynamic 3D tool in hours, not the days it would take an architect or designer. It enables easy movement of virtual furniture through the FastOffice app, so desks and chairs can be moved or eliminated, or meeting rooms repurposed based on safer spacing “guardrails” built into the technology. It allows designation of safe circulation zones and even common areas. The end result can be edited, even in real time, so occupancy counts can be determined and a number of options can be assessed quickly. The plan or even plans can be instantly visualized and toured in 3D, and shared with everyone in the organization, so that the change is understood and embraced. If the tenant is a dab hand with technology, the whole process can be self-serve, or FastOffice can provide experienced design resources, all while keeping to the fast turnaround.

With this in hand, companies can quickly get to other workplace necessities, such as creating shifts for staff, moving of staff from one location to another, continuation of some measure of remote working, even the limited purchase of new furniture to assist with safer separations. And when the pandemic restrictions ease or end, the same FastOffice plan can be used to collaboratively reconstitute a denser office, with whatever standards have taken a permanent hold.

For tenants and landlords alike, the time to think about a safer workplace is now, not when restrictions are eased. And it shouldn’t be done in an ad hoc manner, or left to normal consultant timetables. With FastOffice, we can help make safer spaces possible incredibly quickly. We can make the new normal real. Right now.

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