Wednesday, August 12
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After Covid Offices – Designing Workplaces for the New Normal

empty office due to covid pandemic

Nations have slowly begun to relax Covid-19 measures. This means that businesses can start opening up once again, albeit at a slower pace. This change doesn’t mean that the virus is no longer active, only that the risks are significantly lower if you keep yourself and others safe. Despite opening, many workplaces need to continue with care, to help protect employees. 

Even after Covid-19 is completely under control, the health-conscious changes of today will remain. When you find yourself designing your workplace from scratch, you have to keep this in mind. Here’s how you can make your workplace a safe environment that matches the demands of a post-COVID world. 

Distributed offices are catching on

Open plan office spaces have seen widespread use in the past decade. The cooperative areas are great for sharing ideas and providing insight and context for various projects. However, this system has proven to have quite a few drawbacks. The most obvious one is the proximity of different coworkers that are working in the exact same space. 

While there were doubts about the effectiveness of open-plan offices before, the Covid-19 situation has made these kinds of arrangements dangerous. The chance of spreading disease is higher when everyone is in a single room, with no barriers between them.

In this new “normal” time for office spaces, going back to cubicles is becoming a very attractive option. However, this doesn’t address problems with communication and contact among employees. A lot of employers are trying to innovate by introducing distributed offices. People work in sections that are somewhat close to their homes in small groups. The smaller the group, the less chance of disease spreading. You still get the benefit of cooperation and socialization, but with fewer risks involved.

Hospital-like elements are being introduced

The Coronavirus situation has heightened people’s senses of hygiene and disease prevention. Nobody wants a repeat of the pandemic, which is why measures that prevent the spread of contagious diseases are probably here to stay. 

Employers are well-aware of this, and they’re making strides to create workplaces that minimize these risks and help foster a healthier environment. This is something that’s already familiar in hospital settings, as they’re designed to deal with all kinds of different diseases. Employers are taking notes, however, and it’s possible that many offices will start looking a tiny bit more like hospitals.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the health of employees is crucial. Porous surfaces cling to fluids and increase the chances of disease spreading, which is why wood is moving out of style. Floors can be covered with carpeting that is easy to wash and transport, to make for quicker cleaning. 

As an employer, you’ll also want to make sure that the air around the office is kept clean and sanitary. Advanced filtration systems help combat particles that are spread by air. Alternatively, UV light filtration is also worth taking into consideration.

Contactless offices are the new norm

While the pandemic has brought about many changes, there are still elements of modern offices that aren’t likely to change. If you’re not sure how to go about these changes you should look for professional guidance. Companies in Australia are already teaming up with the interior designer in Sydney and other major cities to introduce flexible office conditions. Which means that 

Essential employees will still spend much of their time within the office space while doing their work, which means contact with others is inevitable. However, contact with common office elements isn’t absolutely necessary in a modern office.

While spending time in the office, employees will still need commodities like coffee and water. Having to touch various different communal surfaces to get to them is less than ideal. The good news is that you wouldn’t necessarily have to touch them in a contactless office. Voice-activated technologies and remote-control apps help minimize the exposure of employees to communal surfaces. You can have the office coffee machine brew a cup without having to actually touch the buttons on the machine. You just use an app that’s suited for the machine.

Lighting, audio, and visual equipment are outfitted to follow voice commands, which reduces the need for buttons that have to be touched to be active. Shading can be handled with the help of automatic motorized blinds on windows. Employees can keep using these essential elements without further risking their health or spreading disease.

There’s less pressure to appear in person

During the height of the COVID pandemic, most workplaces simply ceased to function in one way or another. Instead of having employees come into the office, they were encouraged to stay at home. No employer wants to be responsible for getting their employees sick. This left most offices empty. Industries that didn’t require live employee presence simply adapted with remote work positions to allow some level of work to be done.

As the situation cools down, employees and employers are still hesitant to get back to the previous status quo. Many businesses are choosing to keep some work remote, which seems to benefit productivity. Offices have started to adapt and introduce flextime to allow for more remote work. This means that desks for certain jobs won’t be the dedicated workspaces like before. Instead, they will be temporary stations for specific tasks that require the presence of the employee. 

For this kind of work, desk positions should be flexible and easy to move around. This allows you to open up space for when those employees won’t be coming in. The office will have a lot more space to work with, allowing you to think bigger with your designs.

Conclusion

During the pandemic, most employers were trying to predict how the situation would develop after things get back to normal. Unfortunately, the normal we once had isn’t coming back any time soon, or even at all. Instead, it’s necessary that we adapt to the “new” normal and move forward. Even when designing a modern office, you have to pay attention to details that matter in a post-COVID world. Keep the above pointers in mind while you’re coming up with a design for your office and you’ll find that employees and investors will look at it a lot more favorably. 

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