Previously, we wrote about some of the things you might expect to see when you return to your office, post covid-19. This looked at things like screens, distancing and hygiene as ways of mitigating any ongoing risks.
In this article, we’re going to take it one step further, and explore how office design might transform as a result of the pandemic.
With many companies having moved over to remote working in the early part of 2020, now is a great opportunity to take a look at your workspace, and think about how it could change to facilitate your future needs. So let’s take a look at some options, as well as factors that will have an impact on your decision making.
When thinking about new office designs, you’ll need to keep in mind the new context we all find ourselves in. If your people have been successfully working remotely for over three months, do you really need everybody back in the office?
For some, remote working is ideal and they’re more productive than ever when working at home. Others thrive in an office environment, surrounded by colleagues.
For this reason, you might want to consider the amount of people who’ll be working in your office post Covid-19.
If more people are working at home, then you’ll potentially have more space to play with when redesigning your workspace — so well worth thinking about. It also means you could consider what we’re going to talk about next…
Hot desking is where multiple employees share the same desk — although not at the same time obviously. It’s ideal when you have remote workers who want or need to come into the office occasionally.
The problem is that current official advice says that hot desking should be avoided, as it could lead to the spread of Covid-19. With that in mind, if you want to look into hot desking as a solution, you’ll have to wait until it’s deemed safe to do so.
With that out of the way, what other design options could you look at?
Open plan working spaces have been popular since the 1960s. It’s always been a great way to increase collaboration and communication in your team. What’s more, if you have fewer team members in the office thanks to remote working, you’ll free up space.
But with Covid-19 still around, it’s important that you design an open plan office with that in mind. You’ll want to create the feeling of open space, while ensuring that teams aren’t too densely grouped together. Things like transparent barriers could become essential in this setup.
The key is to keep an open feeling to the space, while using things like transparent barriers, furniture and plants to separate the office into different meeting, work and socialising spaces. Get it right and you can achieve all the benefits of open plan working, while mitigating the risks of Covid-19.
Having a space for meetings is important for any office. Ideally, they need to be separate from the hustle and bustle of the workplace, offering a quiet place for a team to get together and talk.
In the short term, with Covid-19 in mind, there will be an issue with enclosed meeting spaces. But the good news is that you don’t have to completely enclose a meeting space for it to be private and quiet. Strategic use of barriers and sound proofing mean you can create effective meeting spaces that still have enough ventilation and space to remain safe during, and after, the pandemic.
What ties all these ideas together? Health and wellbeing. It’s important to keep productivity, communication and collaboration in mind when designing an office space. And it’s equally important to make sure your team is happy and healthy. In fact, the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. The happier and healthier your people are, the more productive they tend to be.
What does this mean for office design? It means taking into account all of the above, and more. If people have safe meeting spaces and working spaces, they’ll be more confident and happy in the workplace. But you can go further. You could build dedicated breakout spaces into your design — offering people a space to relax and recharge their batteries during the work day.
To achieve this safely now, and into the future, you could ensure that these spaces are not enclosed. Instead, you can make sure that they’re quiet and isolated from the rest of the office using barriers and soundproofing.
With most people still out of the office, it’s a good time to start thinking about a redesign.
If you’d like some help with your office design, contact us for a chat today.