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Creating resilient, flexible and sustainable workspaces

The ongoing damage and uncertainty resulting from COVID-19 may be the most severe value chain shock in recent history, but it’s far from the only one. Disaster strikes all too commonly, and in our ever more interconnected world, its implications are no longer local.

In the past decade, we’ve experienced a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan that knocked critical industries and infrastructure out of commission for months and even years. A decade later, some say Japan still hasn’t fully recovered – and that’s putting aside the pandemic-related challenges of the past year.  

Hurricanes are another example. While Hurricane Sandy is best remembered for the destruction it wreaked in New York, New Jersey and other US states, it also cost $100 million in damages to Ontario, Canada, a northern region typically considered quite safe against these types of climate calamities. 

Whether it’s the COVID-19 pandemic, the ever-present threat of wildfires in California, typhoons in Asia or myriad other threats, today’s businesses need to focus on resilience, flexibility and sustainability. We can’t prevent these disruptions from ever happening. But we can be ready for them, know when and how to respond, and how to return to work and normalcy as quickly as possible while ensuring we lessen the impact of these forces long term. 

Defining resilience in a post-pandemic world

With the global vaccination rollout underway, we can see the light at the tunnel. As challenging as the pandemic has been, the silver lining is that decision-makers are awake to the urgency and necessity of resilience. 

It has brought these types of threats home in ways that catalyze our behavior and encourage the development of new technologies to help us better cope with these daunting challenges. 

These themes touch the core of the existential crises we face, and it’s not only the next pandemic but more vitally climate change as well. Its threat to us is palpably less abstract than it was a year ago because we better understand how regional, let alone global crises like the pandemic, can disrupt supply chains, operations, capabilities and our lives. 

This is why our ongoing partnership with One Concern has been so meaningful to us at Star. One Concern’s mission is to create a planetary-scale resilience software platform to help companies make disasters less disastrous. While typically focused on climate-related challenges, they approached us to build a tool to help business leaders decide when to return to work and how to do so safely during a global pandemic. 

covid calculator tool

Together, we co-created the COVID Calculator. This intuitive, cloud-based tool uses data modeling to help guide choices that impact employee health and safety and the company’s overall financial wellbeing. With it, employers have a much better understanding of the contagion risks and the precautions that can be taken to mitigate them during the ever-fluctuating case numbers. 

During this project, we learned our own lessons in resilience. For the COVID Calculator to be impactful, we needed to engineer and launch it in weeks, not months. Likewise, it had to be deeply focused on the user experience to ensure that employers who are already overwhelmed right now could easily understand these insights and make truly informed decisions. 

The COVID Calculator was just the beginning. We’re expanding into broader resiliency initiatives that businesses can use to address climate change challenges and embrace sustainability

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Flexibility in the post-COVID world

Though the pandemic’s end may be in sight, it has opened the door for new ways of working. 60% of people want to work from home all or most of the time. With this shift, flexible and remote work will become the new global standard for the next decade. 

Nevertheless, many will want to return to an office, whether for the structure, to get a change of pace or more deeply collaborate with colleagues. 

Of course, every business varies immensely, so it’s important to start this conversation now about what your new workspace concept will be. That’s why we’re incredibly excited about the innovative startup Friday PM. Friday PM is a workplace evolution platform promoting a new generation of innovative, healthy and sustainable workplaces. 

Harnessing AI and data science, they help clients transform and optimize their work environments. This starts with safety considerations around COVID-19 then extends into how to best use and manage space to create an ideal workspace to help employees thrive. Combined with analytics, AI algorithms and decision intelligence, Friday PM simplifies complex data analysis across many data points into easy-to-follow and actionable insights. 

With these tools, businesses of all sizes can better manage their assets, provide flexibility and better ensure health and safety for their team members.

Listen to this podcast and discover how the pandemic changed the way we learn, live and work.

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Sustainability

Along with resilience and flexibility comes sustainability. Sustainability is more than just a buzzword. It embodies making operations more efficient and flexible in the face of climate-driven crises. Tools like COVID Calculator focus on the short-term difficulty of navigating decision-making around the pandemic. Meanwhile, Friday PM’s scope is even broader supporting both COVID-related features and longer-term challenges as a true “workplace evolution platform.” 

As we shift gears into “the next normal,” all businesses will encounter the same pressing issue: sustainability. And that’s where the strengths of these tools truly lie. Sustainability is more than just an ethical responsibility. It’s about preparation and business optimization to ensure the best and most efficient utilization of resources. 

Our partner, Analog Devices, has not just helped enable a safe return from COVID-19 but is also empowering their customers on their sustainability journeys. While they offer a comprehensive collection of physical and digital tools, one of our favorites is ADI EagleEye

It is a complete end-to-end, integrated hardware and software solution for occupancy monitoring. Using smart data collection and secure people counting capability, EagleEye provides insights on people, asset allocation and energy efficiency. 

Given that lighting and HVAC consume nearly 65% of energy in buildings, this information is vital for helping business managers make better-informed decisions about energy use. The result is not just cleaner and greener corporate activities, but immense cost savings. 

These are the types of win-wins that we are fanatical about here at Star. It’s technology that works for the business, the environment and everyone. 

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Leverage unpredictability and change as an asset

Ultimately, resilience, flexibility and sustainability are all interconnected. By focusing on them now, you do more than prepare for the future – you also better streamline how you operate today. It’s impossible to know what tomorrow will bring. But if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that businesses need to embody these traits to thrive during immediate and acute disruptions like a pandemic or over the long run while helping to reign in climate change. 

Connect with us now to learn more about how our Star’s team can ensure you don’t just achieve these goals but leverage them to create new growth opportunities while ensuring your people’s well-being and environment.

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