Why office design is more important than ever in a post-COVID world

The workplace environment before the COVID-19 pandemic was characterized by offices packed with people, less or no need to sanitize, handshakes, moving from one room to another freely among other things. Today, this kind of arrangement is nothing but a potential hazard.

The number of complaints about packed open office floor layouts is growing, and as state officials are still considering how to properly restore offices closed by the coronavirus, some are wondering if the design should be phased out.

Worldwide most people are going back to work and the new office designs are something they need to adjust to if they are to be safe. The first changes involved people wearing masks. Something that most people have slowly adjusted to some not quite fully. While this is a first step to keeping safe and combating the COVID-19 virus, more needs to be done at the workplace such as changing the design.

Why office design is more important than ever in a post COVID world

According to the Savills survey conducted in 2020, 89 percent of people believe that physical office space is still necessary for organizations to succeed, but 71 percent believe that this will have a long-term impact on workspace design.

Workplaces should be built to support productive, healthy, and happy employees while also facilitating fundamental company needs. We were in the midst of a paradigm shift even before COVID-19, with a rapid shift from open-plan offices to agile workspace design.

Although workspace design is highly influenced by basic business demands, there are a few ways we may anticipate seeing workspaces alter in the future.

  • Areas for socializing

Because so much of the workforce has been afflicted by isolation and loneliness as a result of the global epidemic, it’s more necessary than ever to encourage social engagement. Positive workplace connections have been shown to have a significant impact on collaboration and even employee retention, so there is a compelling business argument for encouraging social contact. With more individuals working from home, socializing at work will become increasingly important, and workspace design should reflect this with additional breakout rooms, coffee shops, and restaurants to enliven the workplace.

  • Need for more water stations

Hand washing is one of the most effective strategies to prevent illness transmission. However, in many office buildings, the only sinks are located inside toilets, which are often inconvenient. Designers can help to make the healthy decision easier by placing self-contained hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer dispensers in high-traffic locations.

  • Adaptability

To avoid people clashing too frequently, workplaces are likely to have bigger distances around desks. The architecture of kitchens and washrooms is also likely to change in order to reduce interactions between people.

  • Collaboration space

This can include Hubs for producing ideas. Collaboration and idea generation is tough to accomplish in virtual environments. Starting at least 2021, organizations should have safe, flexible collaboration places to be a primary priority for office design. There should be new services like touch point cleaning implemented between sessions, as well as technologies installed to maintain safe airflow in the space, designed so that people can operate a productive session while keeping a safe distance from one another.

Onboarding and training areas: Joining a new company without meeting your coworkers is an odd notion and one that isn’t quite as interesting as face-to-face meetings. The same goes for training. Although e-learning is a reasonable choice in some circumstances, face-to-face learning sessions provide so much value. As a result, centralized offices are likely to continue to host these functions and alter facilities to be fully equipped to properly support them.

  • Clean and sanitized spaces

Today, the term “social distancing” has now come to mean “safety.” Hiring facilities management services can help employees focus on their work while professional cleaners ensure that the work environment is clean. Facilities such as these are designed to make employees feel as though they are returning to a safe environment.

  • Physical office space is still important

While the rapid shift to virtual working has gone better than anyone could have imagined, there are still some duties that must be performed in the workplace to ensure maximum efficiency. Virtual alternatives can’t equal face-to-face cooperation, onboarding, training, and client meetings. Therefore, repurposing of our office spaces for businesses to continue delivering shareholder value and Facilities Management will continue to be at the frontline enabling the shift.

  • Flexible design to accommodate workers.

While some businesses want employees to return to an on-site, 9-to-6 weekday, others envision a future in which employees simply come into the office as needed. It turns out that some employees are more productive or even more productive when they work from home. Employers will be able to see which jobs can be done well from home and which are better completed in person as the shift to home-based work begins. 

We must make greater use of existing office space by utilizing buildings in innovative ways throughout time. This entails arranging office work such that people only come in when they have a genuine need for direct physical contact with specific persons or technology. It could involve working two shifts in the office, one starting early in the morning and the other starting and finishing later.

  • Designs that allow in more air

Increasing the amount of outdoor air that enters our buildings is one of the simplest strategies to avoid the spread of any dangerous respiratory infection indoors. The simple act of opening a window can reduce the number of infectious particles in the air by a significant amount.

One of the most common ways for making buildings more energy-efficient is to create a tight air seal. This can help to boost external ventilation without increasing energy use in the future.

Bottom Line

Office Design is indeed more important than ever in this Covid-19 world. Issues such as spacing, proper ventilation, social distancing, working in shifts or working from home as well as cleaning are all key to fighting the COVID-19 virus. One sure way to achieve this is through rethinking the design of the office. 

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