Featured image by SeventyFour
Pandemic restrictions are gradually lifting, and many business owners are looking to resume in-office operations. But before that can happen successfully, business owners will need to make radical changes in workspace design to accommodate post-pandemic realities.
We Want Our Normal Lives Back Again
Many people are gearing up to return to the workplace. The new hobbies we started at the beginning of the lockdown now seem stale and uninspiring. We have now consumed all of the homemade sourdough bread and banana nut loaves we care to eat. We eagerly await the resumption of our “normal” lives.
However, the likelihood of a safe and effective vaccine seems tantalizingly close on some days but only a remote possibility others, depending on which day it is and which news source you’re relying on.
All the same, people need their livelihoods. Therefore, businesses need to be functional again. And business owners are trying to work out ways to make the workplace safe and hygienic for employees to come back to work.
RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO KEEP YOUR OFFICE SAFE THIS FALL AND WINTER
Workspace Changes Can Help Workers Stay Healthy
The transformation in the post-pandemic workspace won’t be easy. It will take both short- and long-term corrective measures. It will be important to boost employee confidence and mitigate people’s justifiable fears about getting infected. In short, changes in office design are imperative to prevent virus spread.
Multiple corporate office design ideas are available for modern-day offices. However, the design modifications for the post-pandemic world must be centered around the health of all workers. While there are many different approaches for accomplishing this goal, the following seven transformations in spatial design are critical, and they offer exceptional ways of reducing the risk of virus exposure in the workspace.
1. Plan for as Little Contact in the Workspace as Possible
Touchpoint surfaces can be a primary source of coronavirus spread. Therefore, look to minimize points of physical contact, whether they’re the washroom door, elevator buttons, coffee vending machine, or staircase railings. Make plans to disinfect these surfaces frequently.
Consider also the concept of contactless workplace design, aimed at preventing and even eliminating contagion. Use smartphone Apps, voice control systems—in general, the Internet of Things—to automate functions within your organization, leading to fewer surfaces workers need to touch. In turn, your organization will see fewer cases of infection.
2. Construct Distributed Offices to Help with Social Distancing
Following scientific guidelines, offices are already working with reduced numbers of employees. These numbers account for nearly 30 percent of actual workforce numbers, as many people are continuing to work from home. Social distancing and physical separation remain a standard protocol.
Earlier physical barriers were all about privacy and acoustics. But in the pandemic and post-pandemic era, private cabins, huddle rooms, and distributed office rooms provide an added layer of safety while still allowing for organizational collaboration. Additional benefits include the improved mental health that comes from social connection, however minimal.
3. Employ Modified Layouts in the Workspace
Post-pandemic workspace design requires extraordinary changes in office layouts.
Plan for ensuring the movements people must make through the workspace as convenient and hassle-free as possible.
Especially during times when people must be coming and going, such as at the beginning and ending times of shifts, allow for efficient design changes that will allow people to move around without confronting colleagues and visitors. In short, seek to minimize physical contact.
Additionally, such planning in your workspace design will allow for health experts to come and go easily in case of health emergencies without wasting precious time.
4. Partner Technology with Future Workspace Design
incorporate smart technology in your workspace design. This can radically further your goal of keeping employees safe and healthy. In fact, smart technology in workspace design will help every business deal effectively not only with the current pandemic but also with possible future catastrophic events.
Look to technologies such as body thermal scanners, automatic sanitizing stations, and UV light sanitizers. Additionally, sensor-based sanitary equipment and vending machines can also play a part in equipping the post-pandemic workspace to be safe for everyone.
5. Make Use of Interior Design Ideas from Multiple Industries
There might still be times when you’re going to want to assemble all or part of your employees together in one large room. However, you still want to assure everyone of a safe environment, even under these conditions. So be sure to account for proper social distancing, and keep these situations to a minimum.
Moreover, you can accomplish your goals by using design ideas borrowed from multiple industries. For example, offices could embody functional design ideas from hospitals. This could effectively contain possible infection.
6. Use Durable Materials Whenever Possible
During the pandemic and afterward, you’ll need to make sure interior surfaces within the workspace remain virus-free. This calls for regular washing or cleaning with chemical agents. This could eventually make some surfaces rough and discolored, affecting the overall aesthetics of the workspace.
One solution to this problem is to use durable materials that are resistant to chemical washing. For example, replace wooden surfaces with stone laminates and carpets with outdoor carpeting. In short, use materials that can withstand heavy chemical sprays and frequent shampooing.
7. Deploy Additional Safeguards in the Post-Pandemic Workspace
Businesses have already begun to adhere to new safety regulations. In fact, many organizations have already implemented some of the changes we suggest here.
Depending on your organization’s requirements, however, you might also need additional safety gear to protect everyone from the autonomous coughing and sneezing that is sure to happen once you assemble your workers in person again.
Remember, coughing and sneezing are two of the symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Since that’s the case, be sure to inform your employees that they must stay home if they feel sick, or if they are showing any of the signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, install sneeze guards, glass shields, and other barriers as needed throughout the workspace to prevent the spread of airborne diseases. You could also install air purifiers, as they can effectively filter microbes.
RELATED ARTICLE: COVID-19 PANDEMIC OPTIONS FOR EMPLOYEES
The Bottom Line
Your business is battling on multiple fronts just to survive. We get it. Your other challenges include simply staying in operation, keeping up with payroll, and ensuring you have adequate capital funding.
But above all, you must keep your employees safe. You depend on them to keep your doors open. They depend on you for their livelihoods. It’s absolutely critical that you keep your employees working without making them ill in the post-pandemic world.