Article | Evolving Workforces
New Challenges Demand Innovation, But Safety Comes First
21 May 2021 5 Minute Read
Harnessing Changes While Minimizing Risk
Without question, the pandemic has created unusual health and safety challenges. But for Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) leaders, new challenges lead to new opportunities for growth and improvement. These professionals have taken an active role in helping C-suite executive teams rethink the workplace in ways that protect workers, enhance productivity and reduce risk.
Because the pandemic will have a lasting effect on the future of work and the workplace, QHSE leaders must now re- evaluate the impact of these changes and understand the new risks that their organizations face.
Organizations have demonstrated tremendous resilience in the face of the crisis. However, when handled poorly, transformative change can confuse and unsettle employees.
The Impact of Working from Home
CBRE has collaborated with clients across borders, functions and lines of business to develop the intellectual insights and guidance to define their work-from-home strategies. Nearly three-quarters of companies (73%) expect to support this balanced workstyle for the long-term.
Of course, work-from-home scenarios present their own health and safety challenges. For instance, employees working at their kitchen tables or makeshift desk setups may be more at risk of discomfort which in turn can cause longer term problems, leading to a new focus on home ergonomics. CBRE QHSE provided support and partnership in the recent development of a Project Management holistic client solution, called “Office Ready for the Home.” The solution offers a one- stop shop to assist clients by identifying and deploying an ergonomic and productive work-from-home setup. The solution includes:
- Ergonomic online assessment designed by certified ergonomists
- Post-assessment reporting
- Strategic Supply Chain partners for the provision of ergonomically designed furniture, technology, and equipment
- Program management to coordinate and deploy the solution
Health & Wellness Takes Center Stage
As the pandemic draws attention to the importance of physical and mental well- being, companies are developing new methods of delivering health and wellness programs. With gyms closed and employees working remotely, companies looked for ways to make these capabilities available virtually. Employees needed to access health and fitness programs on demand, whether working in the office or from home.
Prior to the pandemic, an innovative partnership in the Asia Pacific region between CBRE client Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) and online fitness and wellness platform LVL had already been empowering employees, families and clients by enabling them to access and book on-demand leisure, fitness, and well-being activities in their city using LVL’s app. LVL activated under-utilized ‘common space’ in SCB corporate offices outside of peak times—spaces such as cafés, cafeterias, lobbies, meeting rooms and auditoriums.
At the onset of the pandemic, LVL pivoted to address work-from home programming. Denis McGowan, Global Head of Property for SCB, appreciated the flexibility of the LVL platform. “As we were preparing to sign up nearly 10,000 staff for the platform, COVID-19 hit and we were all faced with working virtually,” McGowan says. “Within five weeks of asking, while still in lockdown, LVL pivoted to deliver virtual well-being activities to our 86,000 colleagues across 63 markets, offering ‘digital’ on-demand and exclusive live well-being sessions to individuals and teams. On the back of feedback from staff regarding how they valued and embraced this new ‘at home’ service during lockdown, we again pivoted and asked what about our clients? Within six weeks of offering it to employees, we extended this offering to 100,000 retail clients for 90 days. We’ve now gone full circle as we build out dedicated well-being spaces across our property portfolio to further leverage the streaming platform on-site and enhance the well-being proposition for employees who are returning to work.”
The LVL partnership enables CBRE employees and clients to turn under-utilized spaces into on-demand wellness centers. By leveraging the LVL vendor network, such spaces, once activated, can provide both face-to-face wellness and online well- being classes.
Rising to the Challenge: Safety & Wellness in a Hybrid Environment
The collision of the physical and digital worlds has changed the workplace in ways that will likely persist long after the virus has receded.
In response to the launch and expansion of global vaccination efforts, QHSE stayed abreast of these developments, providing information to employees about when and where they can get vaccinated. CBRE conducted its own internal vaccination survey of employees, launched a Vaccination Awareness Program to encourage employees to get the vaccine, and leveraged its own Global Workplace Safety and Well-Being-managed COVID-19 Risk Assessment Center and Smartsheet data analytics technology to gather additional data related to this process.
As those programs evolved, QHSE leaders have also developed ways to track employees who have been quarantined or exposed to COVID-19, a metric CBRE’s Risk Assessment Center incorporated in its internal COVID-19 reporting. These professionals will continue to evaluate and implement new workplace products and technologies, particularly in areas such as hygiene and sanitation, to ensure safe workplaces for all CBRE employees.
During the pandemic, QHSE leaders have overcome many challenges. With the reopening phase moving into full swing, we can anticipate that they will continue leading the way forward, providing critical support for enterprise-wide safety enhancements required to respond to this ever-evolving situation.