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The Office of The Future: How COVID-19 Will Impact Office Design in Long Term

September 29, 2020 Workplace

The Office of The Future:  How COVID-19 Will Impact Office Design in Long Term

By altering how and where we do our jobs, checking how each of our organizations will adjust to flexible work, and making us all reconsider the future of how we work and whether office configurations as we know them to make sense in the new normal, the COVID-19 pandemic has updated our work life.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, one definite thing is – the evolution to accommodate flexible work will change our office spaces. But COVID-19 has created the need for a faster than expected transition for offices to promote new office design for social distancing and cleaner and more effective workspaces.

A trend that should not go away has been to carry the home aesthetic into the workplace. Getting a casual atmosphere would help to offer office peace and comfort. This applies to more relaxed seated, dining room type quarters.

With forward-looking and quick ways to protect your workplace and your employees from current and potential pathogens, it's time to think about your office interior redesign and make them feel secure coming back to the office.

For everyone, the new normal would look different. At least initially, we'll see workplaces with fewer people spread farther apart, and there will be new procedures to use shared space.

 

Take a Close Look at The Current Setup of the Office

The main aim of the companies is to build a new office design that will optimize the workplace's healthy occupancy.

It is not simply a matter of taping off every other desk and calling it a day to construct a socially distanced office layout. The first step to make meaningful changes is to understand how your current office layout functions.

Consider the movement of foot traffic across busy areas, high-touch surfaces like door handles, routes between rows of desks leading to dead ends, areas around printers and other congested office facilities, and open areas where people are likely to congregate, such as kitchens.

 

New Office Design For Social Distancing

Companies that have relied on open layouts in the past can prefer to continue to use large tables to serve multiple employees. Even, to ensure the correct six-foot gap, chairs would need to be staggered around the tables.

A table that could once suit 8 people, for example, can now have to accommodate just 3. But in those days, those 5 other workers would be able to operate from home.

With sensor-activated doors, lights and taps, office designers can eliminate touchpoints and define materials and ventilation systems that help prevent infectious diseases from spreading.

 office-layout image source - workdesign.com  

Workers would feel better ensuring that their employer offers the required social distance to a workstation so that they can concentrate on productivity instead of thinking about being sick.

This needs a new office design plan to change the current space or to take up additional space to accommodate the same number of workers safely.

It may also be a smart idea to invest in personal computers, tablets, or phones for your staff while thinking about workstations. Having each employee their own devices that they can commute with can limit the number of wires and desk items and help keep the office space clean and safe.

 

Use Transparent Partitions When Employees Are Unable to Prevent Face-to-face Encounters

Consider installing workstation enclosures such as transparent screening panels of plastic or glass between any desks where employees face or sit next to each other that can protect employees but still allow them to see each other and interact.

However, partitions may not be as successful as individuals practicing maximum social distance in preventing the spread of COVID-19, transparent partitions help establish a physical barrier between employees while still facilitating face-to-face contact.

social-distancing image source - economictimes.indiatimes.com  

If your office has a reception desk, make sure that a large-enough shield is equipped to serve as an effective barrier between workers and guests. This is particularly relevant as visitors to your office might not be aware of guidelines for social distancing.

 

Eliminate Seating From Areas in Which it is Difficult to Prevent Social Distancing

If you have seats or tables in areas where social distancing is not a choice, such as in a reception area, a break room, or a lobby, remove them so they can not be used.

You can also turn individual chairs to face the wall or cover them in high-visibility tape. This has the added advantage of stopping staff or visitors from shifting the remaining chairs to socially distant positions.

It may also act as a reminder to workers that workplace social distancing measures are in place to leave chairs in their original positions and use signs to mark them as not in use.

 

Tips to Prevent Social Distancing at Work

If it is not an option to change your office layout to facilitate social distancing, consider some of the other activities the organization may adopt to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

    • Rotate the team on a weekly basis
      Break the staff into two or three groups and make them work alternate weeks in the office. While one community operates from home, the other personally attend the workplace, halving the number of employees in the building on any given day and creating more personal space for each individual worker.
 
    • Keep flexibility in enabling workers to work from home
      Although most employees are ready to return at least one day a week to the revamped workplace, some are still nervous about entering common spaces and commuting on public transport. Reduce the number of employees visiting the office at any time by continuing to accommodate remote work for those who request it.
 
    • Provide incentives for alternative modes of transport
      For many workers, the commute is the least socially distant aspect of the return to the workplace. Help them escape busy trains by providing coupons for local services for rideshare or bicycle sharing and modifying an existing space to improve bike storage ability.
 
    • Time to Redefine Your Office Interior Design
      Make the redefined office a place that prioritizes health, safety, and peace of mind by working together.
 

Nobody knows how long social distance standards will last, but in order to keep workplaces healthy and safe, employers and workers will need to work together to implement and follow new guidelines.

This starts with the adaptation of the current office configurations, from rearranging desks and seating to creating new maximum occupancies for common spaces, to encourage social distancing laws as often as possible.