By Mark Bischoff
From the April 2022 Issue
According to the Jones Lang LaSalle Work Dynamics Pulse Survey of October 2021, 49% of organizations still had not developed a “future of work” program after the disruption of the last two years. Some organizations may not be ready to integrate a flexible space strategy for their office portfolio to adjust for hybrid work. What if their assumptions are incorrect? Alternatively, what if waiting for more clarity from clients or associates turns out to be the correct decision?
Although the future of work is not yet clear, there are ways to mitigate the risk and prepare for the future now. Most existing office layouts and their infrastructure support traditional approaches to assigned seating with some shared assets. If change does occur, the office furniture, technology, and flooring will need to work together to support hybrid workplaces and dynamic seating assignments.
Facility management leaders can incrementally prepare to reinvent real estate strategies in response to ever-changing business priorities. This is possible without going “all in” on the first effort to bring associates back to work. To prepare, it’s prudent to enlist the services of a professional flooring contractor to provide a site assessment of your facilities. A site assessment will focus on basic elements without the commitment required for complete workplace redesign.
Site Assessment: What To Expect
A site assessment is a practical review of your entire campus focused on three elements that impact the lifetime return of your building interiors and organizational culture:
- Cost Avoidance;
- Health and Safety; and
Across the United States and Canada, member contractors of the Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership have helped clients develop a back-to-work strategy with practical advice developed from a site assessment. Following is insight from Starnet for facility managers.
Cost Avoidance. Bringing people back to work may resurrect procedures that have not been used for a few years such as collecting injury data, incident reports, and hazard analysis. According to the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), each year eight million people seek emergency treatment for accidental falls, and 25,000 will die from their fall. 55% of all slips, trips, and falls can be directly attributed to walking surfaces.
The cost avoidance site assessment includes a review of incident reports and physical inspection of hazardous areas relating to the flooring in your facility. A professional flooring contractor will help prescribe preventative solutions to reduce future financial pitfalls and challenges with flooring related injuries. This includes safety and product selection for particularly dangerous areas such as walk off from exterior entrances, stairwells, changes in level, elevator and escalator transitions, restroom access and breakroom facilities.
Additional cost avoidance consultation can be applied to product life expectancy, product solutions that may enable reduced insurance cost, ongoing maintenance savings, and reclamation.
Health and Safety. Site assessments for health and safety would include a review of the current products used in the space and their impact on the air quality, sustainability, and effectiveness of maintenance operations. Starnet member contractors have access to thousands of products that may help organizations realize sustainability goals, backed up by data and independent third-party certifications.
Are you looking for low impact sustainable products, Red List Free, post-consumer recycled content, or Low VOC-emitting materials? Starnet members are product knowledge experts across thousands of floorcoverings, underlayments, adhesives, accessories, and maintenance products. Each product is integral to creating a complete flooring system in support of facility planning and operation.
During the pandemic, many disinfectants and maintenance chemicals were introduced to care for commercial flooring. Starnet Floor Care technicians can help to evaluate if these chemistries and procedures are effective and safe for people and products long-term.
Other considerations regarding health and safety site assessments may include a review of wayfinding solutions, targeting chronic moisture or moldy conditions, or providing effective product solutions to aid the visually impaired.
Productivity. One of facility management’s great challenges is to create dynamic places that connect the purpose, values, and objectives of an organization or business with its people. Site assessments related to productivity may include the obvious of providing great looking products and their potential impact on improved morale and corporate brand continuity.
A professional flooring contractor can review employee interaction in a space and suggest different surfaces that may improve efficient interaction, such as sliding up a chair to quickly meet with a colleague. In a flexible space, interaction between the furniture and the flooring choices is vital to productivity. This is not a high priority in fixed private offices, but as furniture, technology, and people move around an interior more frequently these elements must work together.
An experienced flooring contractor brings additional expertise to the process to balance the performance of the flooring with acoustic and ergonomic considerations. A loud and distracting space or an interior that does not help to mitigate fatigue has dramatic impacts on productivity. Starnet members help develop solutions during their site assessments that can enhance the productivity of any employee—whether a nurse or stockbroker.
Other considerations regarding productivity may include reducing the churn rate or cycle time to properly disinfect a patient room, targeting high wear areas with trendy colors and patterns to brighten the space for employees, reduce stress and eyestrain, or providing flexible underfloor power and wire management solutions for multiple space plan changes.
Site Assessment Outcomes
Most C-level executives agree that a safer office environment enhances an organization’s bottom line. Flooring is an element that unavoidably impacts every occupant, so investment there has a broad impact. Cost avoidance, health and safety, and productivity should be the focus of site assessments for building teams. With that effort they become a participant in their organizations’ mission to attract, motivate and retain the best talent.
Bischoff is President and CEO of Starnet Worldwide Commercial Flooring Partnership, the largest network of full-service independent flooring contractors. Through partnerships with commercial flooring professionals and flooring manufacturers, Starnet helps deliver successful project outcomes serving the client vision.
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