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New Normal: The Great Return to the Workplace

Colliers International Philippines is one with the nation and the world in Doing What is Right for the people, clients and communities in combating the spread of COVID-19. When this is over, it will not be business as usual. This pandemic will change the way of life across the board. In commercial real estate, we see significant changes in how this sector will rebound and evolve when this pandemic is over. While we are all busy coping and surviving this challenge, we intend to share our knowledge to accelerate the success of our partners by writing a series of papers about The New Normal in Commercial Real Estate. We need to be ready and preparation starts now. The Great Return to the Workplace As the Philippines braces for the start of the gradual easing of the Enhance Community Quarantine, businesses are already crafting their plans for the eventual return of their employees to the workplace. Many companies are considering implementing a staggered return for their workforce whilst a certain percentage will remain under the “work-from-home” setup as the community continues to adjust to the “new normal” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest worry, however, is the risk of the so-called 2nd (or worse 3rd) wave which is proven to be more catastrophic. The article uploaded on Knowledge Leader, the Colliers Workplace Advisory team recommends the following measures which can also be applied in the Philippine setting: 1. Design and Space Changes

  • Rotate open workstations so people do not face each other.

  • Occupy every other workstation – one seat apart.

  • Modify desks focusing on practical solutions if number of occupants cannot be reduced

  • Dedicated seat to ensure convenient contact tracing.

  • Minimize density by redirecting workplace to areas like meeting room and open areas.

  • Modify working hours if applicable

  • Install tall partitions between desks that face each other.

  • Relocate wellness room near main entrance to minimize foot traffic.

  • Sneeze & Cough Barriers (using Acrylic) for reception desks and counters.

2. New Behaviors

  • Engage employee on back-to-work online trainings regarding Covid19

  • Increase awareness of employees on Covid19 Prevention and engage them on leadership stewardship- “If not me, then who?”

  • Awareness on Covid19 Symptoms and strategize immediate isolations.

  • Inform employees on steps to health care access where there are symptoms.

  • Minimize foot traffic on public spaces of the building.

  • Well-strategized housekeeping and sanitation.

  • Use paper cups and disposable utensils until it is safe to use washable utensils.

  • Mental readiness through counselling and support.

  • Minimize large number of participants in meetings and utilize virtual meetings.

3. Communication and Navigation

  • Information signages for best hygiene practice and prevention at key areas.

  • Direction signages for re-directing traffic flow.

  • Queuing markings for physical distancing by the CDC (Center for Diseases and Control and Prevention)

  • Integrate Wellness and Safety in Corporate Wallpapers for Laptops and Desktops to remind/communicate with employees on the importance of hygiene and cleanliness.

4. Hygiene and Cleaning 

  • Put hand sanitizers in strategic locations.

  • One-Desk Policy.

  • Source 3-in-1 Stand Alone equipment for Temp Checking, Hand Sanitizer Dispenser and Face Mask Dispensers on building lobbies.

  • Provide hygiene kits on each desk.

  • Frequency of cleaning and waste disposal on restrooms, pantries and cafeterias.

  • Installation or recyclable bins on key areas.

  • Install Wet and Dry Foot Bath or Sanitizing Foot Mat on entrances (building entrances)

  • Make cleaning visible throughout the day to help reduce employees stress levels and build trust.

  • Nano-Anti Microbial Coating for long-term bacteria and virus prevention for offices and workplaces or areas where people normally have contact.

5. Technology

  • Telecommuting or work from home is encouraged.

  • Invest in Internet Connectivity

  • Invest on technology-based upgrades such wireless or non-contact control devices, hands-free fixtures.

  • Digital Communication for wellness and safety.

  • Air Purifiers and UV Hepa Filters for Air Quality Maintenance.

__________________________________________________ Colliers Views Jet Ilaga, Executive Director of Real Estate Management Services at Colliers International Philippines, states that the presence of health and safety in the community and workplace would signify the restart of the economic engine. We are working doubly hard in crafting and implementing guidelines and policies in the buildings that we manage to avoid the spread of infections to our occupiers that would endanger our community. We are serious in our role as frontliners in the fight against COVID19. In addition, Colliers developed Back-to-Work Navigator that is designed to provide recommendations in Design, Technology, Navigation, Communication and Behavior, and Hygiene and Cleaning. The report can be processed in 48 hours from the submission of the video and/or floor plan of your space. Roldan Buitizon, Associate Director for Project Management, said that navigating the great return to the workplace could be cumbersome, but with the Back-to-Work Navigator we can help companies come up with short- and long-term solutions to ensure health and safety in the workplace. Our goal is to guide companies for them to assure their employees of a safe and healthy workplace environment through short/long term solutions that are economical and/or practical, so the employees will not worry of getting infected and risking the health of their families.


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