How Is Workplace Design Changing During COVID 19?

COVID-19 has everyone rethinking everything. From how we greet our friends and family to how we spend the holidays–we are continually trying to redesign a safer environment. Workplaces are no different. Experts have been searching for ways to redesign the workplace to be safer during the pandemic and the life we will have after it ends.

New health requirements are aiding much of the redesign, along with employee concerns. It’s not just about social distancing, either. Air filters, routing people to the coffee pot, and high-tech products that were once options–are all have become requirements. 

All these alterations do make for some adjustment, but adopting these three changes can put everyone’s mind at ease, knowing their work environment is safer, and that their employer cares for their wellbeing. 

1. Technology

One of the best tools companies are using to keep their environment sterile is enhancing their technology. Touchless surfaces help keep employees from physically making contact with clients–either directly or indirectly–and vice versa. Light-activated sinks and hand dryers in the bathrooms are just some examples. 

Employers once viewed these types of technology as optional. Now, they are essential. 

Apps on mobile phones to operate controls for lighting, temperature, and AV equipment are another example of technology considered important for decreasing exposure. Doors and elevators that open with corporate badges are also becoming more common. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield adopted a QR code system for cleaning conference rooms and desks. The system works by having a QR code to scan when someone finishes a meeting or leaves their desk. The code notifies a porter to come to clean the area. 

Businesses are also using ultraviolet light to sterilize surfaces once employees are finished with the area. Columbia University developed a new light technology called far-UVC–in low doses, this light technology can kill bacteria and viruses without harming anyone.

Magnolia Bakery in New York created “cleanse portals” that use this kind of technology. Customers walk in, turn 360 degrees, and stand for 20 seconds before entering the store. Office builders could be in line to installing this technology in their workspaces. 

2. Social Distancing

Businesses have been inventing new ways to social distance. Some  are roping off desks or entire areas, creating snaking walkways or holding outdoor meetings. Different companies have different ideas.

One such method is to alternate desks and face them away from each other. This helps create more distance between each person. Other companies have installed desk pods, which allow up to four employees to collaborate while keeping their distance. Some companies are using meeting rooms to keep fewer people on the floor. 

Experts say conference rooms are likely to be used more and more creatively in the future. You can often fit a handful of people in a room, depending on its size, while still socially distancing. 

Some employees are only working from home, either part of the time or full time. They also may use off-site coworking spaces. This is great for reducing long commutes while staying safe. These methods indicate a transition to prioritizing collaboration and being engaged instead of simply focusing on employees sitting at a desk all day.

The pandemic makes companies take a hard look at their priorities. They focus on making the office a place where people use it when they need it, instead of tethering employees to the space arbitrarily–a major shift in the tone of the business world.

3. Flexibility

The pandemic caused businesses to perform the unplanned experiment of remote work and rethinking how their businesses operate. They have examined the role the physical office space plays, the flexibility employees expect, and what the companies are willing to do. 

These factors may cause significant shifts in how workplaces operate. Experts are examining how it will impact several factors.

Employees crave flexibility and have been pushing for it long before the pandemic. The last year has given employees a chance to experience more flexibility and embrace the parts of their lives they have been missing. 

Some employees feel more empowered, as they have more control over how they spend their time. Some feel isolated because they aren’t getting the interaction they have become so accustomed to. Recent studies have shown that many people prefer to keep a mix of remote work and work in their previous environment. Seventy percent of employees said they expect to work from home at least one day a week once the pandemic subsides. 

Office space is underutilized and has been for years. Typically, employees only occupy half of the workspace. With the success of work-from-home trending up, many businesses are opting to downsize office space or utilize it in other, more monetarily beneficial ways.

Humans still thrive on social connections. So completely eliminating the office will likely never be the norm. Companies need to reimagine how they can provide both flexibility and an available office for their employees.

Reimagine Your Workspace With T2B

At T2b Interiors, we design commercial workspaces, are an adaptable workspace furniture dealer and are workspace flooring and window treatment specialists. 

T2B designers listen carefully to understand your organization’s workplace objectives, brand personality and unique culture. Clients value our hands-on involvement and rapid responsiveness from start to finish. 

With a broad range of knowledge and experience, our designers can help maximize the efficiency of your space, boost employee engagement, inspire creativity, improve safety and more. Our designers work with state-of-the art software and provide you with CET design and renderings to help you understand the design vision and provide valuable input early in the process. Big budget or small; new space or renovated space; office, school, hospital or retail, we have designers with the right experience to meet your needs.

Whether you need new flooring, furniture or even an entire new lobby for your hard-working employees and valued clients, contact us today to learn how our designers can meet your needs.