What does the future office look like in a post-Coronavirus world?
As offices across the globe consider the best course of action for reopening their doors, internal design and configurations have been brought into sharp focus in order to provide a safe environment for employees to carry out their professions.
Recently, Agilité Solutions’ development director, Kirsty Shearer, spoke to OnOffice magazine, to explore how workplace logistics and layouts may continue to evolve as the globe continues to navigate these changing times. In case you missed it, you can catch up below.
While Coronavirus has seen the trend for homeworking accelerated, what’s become clear is that teams don’t necessarily want to do it every day – if they can help it. The lack of socialisation and opportunities for collaboration have seen some individuals struggle in isolation, but there is work still to be done before people can return to their desks.
To begin with, workers may look to spend only a few days per week at HQ, and there are already clear signs of a change in the way office spaces are used. Previously a hive of activity and the hub of a business, workplaces will likely now be used as a place for teams to come together, socialise and collaborate, with focused work being carried out at home.
Aside from their homes, the workplace should be the next-best location in which people can feel safe. But, for work to resume, changes must be made to instil a sense of confidence with those venturing outside. Those with open plan configurations have an advantage in that it’s likely there will be more space to play with – meaning social distancing and hotdesking can be quickly established in the short-term – but proper procedures will need to be implemented in order for it to work.
From a practical point of view, there will need to be investment into technology which supports the upsurge in flexible working. For larger organisations, systems which allow employees to ‘book’ time in the office should help to avoid overcrowding – and keep colleagues safe.
Also, the airborne nature of COVID-19 means that, from a technical point of view, consideration must be given to how to deal with airflow. Air conditioning and circulation systems should be examined prior to reopening, with a view to considering opportunities to maximise any outdoor space that is available.
Of course, thought must also be given to hygiene provisions – with shared desk space undergoing the necessary cleaning after each use. Consider too the potential need for additional toilets or sanitary facilities, while for those who are avoiding public transport and choose to walk, run or cycle to work, there will need to be investment into shower and changing facilities where staff can safely prepare for their day.
Whether a multi tenancy building or single firm occupancy, be aware of entry points, shared corridors and facilities or waiting areas – and the potential for contamination. And, once inside an office space, the key will be in the quality of the fit-out. Everything from the quality of the coffee-making facilities to the recreational space will play its part in reassuring workers that they can socialise safely – during breaktimes or in meetings.