How Covid 19 Has Influenced Workplace Design?
Updated: Jun 17, 2021
The covid-19 pandemic has altered our lives to a great degree. In such an unprecedented time, the face of the conventional workplace has changed beyond recognition. Countless businesses were largely shifted at home causing a deterrence in efficiency. Collaborative practices had to make do with virtual setups and commercial buildings started resembling deserted houses.
Owing to the unusual situation, major changes in workplace design were a necessity. Around the world, designers rose to the occasion to help create more secure working environments.
For continued maintenance of hygiene, cleaning constantly is the way forward. Cleaning protocols must be put into place to ensure regular sanitization of spaces. This can also be facilitated by using antimicrobial furniture. Furniture items like sofas or chairs made of microfiber are easy to clean. Self-cleaning finishes have the inherent ability to rid themselves of any dirt and can be extremely useful if coated on surfaces. Another thing to ensure is reducing contact between surfaces. Advancement in technology has made it possible to achieve this. Automated doors with sensors or lights and faucets with motion sensors are good examples. To eliminate touching elevator buttons, AV systems that can be controlled using voice commands or mobile phones are helpful.
Employers have to think about the effective use of workplaces. Cubicles and desks come to mind when we think of a conventional office. However, enclosed areas are a great health hazard, especially in these times. Open floor plans not only facilitate ventilation but also reduce the number of surfaces that are constantly touched. This could be done in combination with indoor air cleaning machines. Air purifiers filter the indoor air, removing dust and bacteria from it thereby improving general air quality.
According to government mandates, there should be a six feet distance to avoid risks. Therefore, workstations should be arranged with proper distance between them. A desk might accommodate half its capacity to maintain adequate social distancing. Screens or transparent barriers could be added between seats to further protect employees.
Employers need to segregate which work can be done remotely and which will need in-person attendance. This way, people working individually in their offices can be made to stay back and hence de-densify the space. The lower occupancy will reduce health risks and create a safe working environment. It has become crucial to think of workplace design in a completely new light. Instead of having personal desks, the offices can have a more flexible design, with ‘touchdown rooms’ and movable furniture. These are rooms accommodating two to three people and do not belong to anyone. If the employee wants to come to the office on a particular day, they can work from these rooms. Lockers can be provided to each employee to store their belongings.
Circulation patterns need to be in check to keep people moving towards their destination. The width of thoroughfares can be increased and unidirectional pathways can be opted for so that people remain in their spheres. Points of stoppage in between should be kept to a minimum. Floor stickers come in handy to mark spots with appropriate distancing. Signage should be used to showcase covid-19 guidelines on spill-out spaces or congestion-prone areas. It can also be used for wayfinding to reduce traffic.
Another major aspect that workplace design will gravitate towards is wellness. Due to the pandemic, people have become more conscious of their health. To cater to this need, offices will have to incorporate interior landscaping and natural color palettes. These practices ensure the mental well-being of employees and provide a sense of calm and peace. Moreover, the flora would also improve indoor air quality. Enabling employees to add personal touches will give them a sense of belonging to space. Materials like wood and stone have a natural appearance along with anti-germ properties.
In this new shift, we will see a surge in outdoors acting as collaborative spaces. These spaces are perfect for group activities with adequate social distancing. The biophilic nature helps in refreshing the mind whereas the fresh air proves healthier.
These are some of the ways design modifications can help in recalibrating workplaces. At a time where fear of health risks is soaring, taking steps to establish a steady atmosphere at work is an urgent necessity.
A healthy workplace is crucial for better productivity. Get in touch with us here if you need help with workplace renovation or design from scratch. We'll get back to you.