The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our work lives by changing how and where we do our jobs, putting each of our industries to the test of adapting to flexible work and forcing us all to reconsider the future of how we work and whether traditional office designs make sense in our new normal. The transition to accepting flexible work is not new, and we predict that it will continue to modify our office spaces beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has prompted the need for a faster-than-expected conversion for all of our offices to accommodate working from home, social distancing, and delivering safer and more efficient workspaces.
As we begin to think about the end of quarantine and what the future brings in our new normal way of life, we've gathered the following to provide direction and help you reconsider your office spaces through major ideas and modest solutions. Safeguard your business and your staff from present and future viruses and make them feel safe returning to the office.
PRIORITIZATION ON PHYSICAL DISTANCING
Many offices will have the issue of maintaining a six-foot spacing between desks, which governments may or may not continue to demand. Employees will feel secure knowing that their business is offering a workspace with the necessary social distance so they can concentrate on performance rather than becoming sick. Personalization will be prevalent in the new professional world, from individual spaces to lighting to temperature controls and more. We are becoming more attentive to our environment, and we prefer to keep our stuff to ourselves. The same is true for our workstations and standing desks.
● Companies that have previously relied on open layouts may continue to use large tables to accommodate several employees. Seats will need to be scattered around the tables to maintain the required six-foot space.
● Businesses may add workstation barriers to protect individuals while still allowing them to see and communicate with one another.
● If your company does not allow workers to work from home, you will need to either invest in new desks that create a safe spacing between employees or reconfigure your space's tables to fit the new rules. In many circumstances, this will entail creating a new space plan to alter your present area or acquire greater space to handle the same number of people safely.
● It may also be a good idea to provide your employees with personal laptops, tablets, or phones. Workstations may become minimalistic if you limit what is on them. Providing each employee with their equipment that they can travel with and are responsible for will reduce the number of cords and desk clutter while also helping to keep your office environment tidy and healthy.
BEHAVIORAL CHANGES IN EMPLOYEES
Employee behavior has shifted to the point that returning to "normal" does not appear feasible or logical. Our world and the way things are no longer the same. Companies need to adapt to these changes in behavior and not expect everything to return to normalcy because the tragedy we all experienced has changed us.
● Allow for flexible schedules to boost staff morale and overall performance. Many employees have grown accustomed to working from home, and though most would like to come to the office, it may not be possible for everyone because of kid and eldercare concerns. Furthermore, some people may be more efficient at home since they can concentrate on their mental and physical well-being. Office spaces will need to facilitate those who work outside the office regularly. Floating workstations, desk bikes, sit-stand desks, shared spaces, smaller conference rooms, technology that makes the return from home to office easy, and workspaces that provide safe zones are just a few examples.
● Maintain constant cleanliness and disinfection to protect against not only COVID-19 but all future diseases. Employees will demand clean and safe workplaces, including throwaway paper, cleaning products, sanitizing wipes and masks, and evidence of excellent cleaning staff.
● Improve airflow to ensure infections are cleaned as much as possible. It was observed that the ventilation system of a subway car flows air more effectively than that of shops, institutions, and other indoor locations. Employees expect improved ventilation and open windows to protect their well-being.
DELIBERATE SOCIAL INTERACTION
Humans desire and require interaction and socialization. It is beneficial to our mental health and social well-being. Employees' sensitivity for social contact strengthens as they return to their working area, and we notice that social connection is more thoughtful.
One of the most noticeable workplace trends since COVID-19 has been the reliance of employees primarily on audio-video conference calls. However, there is a shortage of collective energy, which can only be regenerated and channeled into maximum production when we are all in the same place. Even when employees return to the office, they should continue to check in daily, weekly, or monthly.
● General assemblies are now taking place in separate groups or one-on-one. You may move modern tables within any space to accommodate social distancing while allowing for ergonomic functions, including height adjustability and tilting. FlexiSpot is one of the leaders in standing desks, designing and bringing ergonomic solutions to promote a healthier and more conducive life.
● The same is true for employee orientation and training. Small groups may still attend training, whether they are existing or new employees, thanks to mobile desks and stackable chairs that are effortlessly cleaned. This is an investment that will keep employees satisfied and the organization on track. For regular and spontaneous brainstorming sessions, document your team's ideas on an optional built-in whiteboard surface, shoot or post thoughts to your computer, and then wipe and disinfect for the next group.
● Transparent or semi-transparent privacy panels and sneeze and cough protection screens permit you to convert current modern office furniture and allow employees to communicate with their coworkers visually and audibly. These variations in social interaction style may provide higher efficiency, engagement, and transparency to the office arrangement.
SUSTAINABILITY, HEALTH, AND WELLNESS
Sustainable methods and limiting a company's environmental impact are critical for employee morale and brand culture. Environmental awareness is more critical than ever, from employing green office furniture to including non-toxic, reusable, and natural materials when creating and equipping your office space.
With your employees' long-term well-being in mind, it's time to redesign or modernize the office for maximum wellness and preventative care. This means furniture that allows for social separation, relaxation, focus, balance, ergonomics, and calmness.
● Natural light is one of the most commonly requested employee environment aspects in today's modern workspace. Find innovative ways to allow in more light for all workers. Let the daylight in at your current office, whether creating a collaboration spot near windows or adding seating and walking trails outside the workplace for staff to use.
● Bamboo offers many of the same characteristics as hardwood flooring but is more environmentally friendly because it is derived from natural plants. Bamboo is sturdy, lightweight, water-resistant, and simple to maintain and clean, which are all advantages of revamping your office for long-term sustainability and wellness. Many traditional and modern desks, such as sit-stand desk manufacturers, also use bamboo for sustainability and aesthetics.
● Consider standing desks. A height-adjustable workstation provides a sense of individuality as well as ergonomic flexibility. Dividers allow you to maintain an openness to communicate with colleagues and coworkers while remaining healthy and safe. They also allow employees to engage in more profound work and focus for more extended periods.
● Other measures to improve air quality include adding office plants, keeping the office clean and disinfected daily, and maintaining a healthy level of humidity balance. However, installing an air filtration and sanitation system is the simplest but most expensive option. According to research, there is a link between improved air quality and increased productivity.
● There is a renewed interest in living walls, sometimes known as "vertical gardens," which provide a soothing green space to augment air purification systems in business buildings. These gorgeous plant-driven installations offer an aesthetic look while providing both employees and clients who walk through your office building with all the pleasant qualities of being in nature. Living walls also serve as acoustic paneling, dampening noise, and enhancing focus and performance.
The office isn't going anywhere; it's just evolving. It has done so in the past and will do so again. People right now want to see one other in a considerate, mindful manner. We require the company of others and the mental energy, innovation, and thrill of advancements that a shared office environment brings. We want our job to be meaningful. The idea is to create aware, adaptive, and sustainable environments that allow people to draw into their tasks rather than fret over them.