What Could Offices Look Like After Coronavirus?
Since March 23rd, the nation’s office workers have been subject to making a Working from Home environment, the ‘new norm’. With selected lockdown measures slowly being lifted, there are many people wondering what their future Office could look like - should they be made to return in due course. This is especially with the newly published, government guidelines in mind. At Heed we couldn’t help but put together our own fact file. We want to try and inform others who are just as curious as we are, about offices after Coronavirus.
What does the BCO suggest?
As a start to what Offices could look like, we can take a look some of the points drawn up by the BCO paper which suggest:
- Reversing the ‘trend to share desks’, ie hot - desking, with more desks being allocated to particular users
- Introduction of screens to protect receptionists
- Replacement of communal toilets, with individual pods featuring touchless doors, taps and soap dispensers
- An end to communal cutlery, coffee pots and water bottles
- Adaptation of ventilation and humidification systems to create tougher climates for viruses
- Windows kept open even if rooms become cold
The 6 Feet Office
Cushman & Wakefield, establishing their concept of a safe working space could be a potential insight into what an Office could look like. This is of course if other organisations decide to mirror what the Commercial Real Estate services have put in place. Their ‘6 Feet Office’ involves the procedure of keeping a safe six feet distance from other employees at all times.
Bill Knightly, part of the team for the Covid 19 taskforce, comments how it will come down to ‘basic concepts, things like coloured carpet or, in a less sophisticated or expensive application, taping off what six feet stations look like’. Plexiglass or other forms of sneeze and cough guards are also part of this proposition.
Marking a 6 feet safety zone circle around each desk and grabbing paper placemats for desks are just examples of some of the precautions in practice at this office. Visually displayed and unique routing are also part of their 6 Key Elements for the project.
Entrances for Temperature Checks & Collection of Masks
A UK- Listed Recruitment company, PageGroup, has allocated temperature checking equipment and masks to a specific entrance in their China Offices. Staff members are expected to follow through with this daily routine alongside keeping any large group meetings to a minimum. This will be the set plan for the PageGroup management team supervising the return of ‘7,500 staff’ to other offices. But also a type of entrance which could also become familiar to many other returning employees with time.
Marking a 6 feet safety zone circle around each desk and grabbing paper placemats for desks are just examples of some of the precautions in practice at this office.
Could We All Be Heading for a Futuristic Design?
Employing ‘some of what he thinks might be post-coronavirus principles’, head of User Parametrics at Zaha Hadid Architects, Arjun Kaicker -highlights how he doesn’t think ‘spaces will flow into each other so much any more’. He shares how furniture may change too, stating “Office desks have shrunk over the years, from 1.8m to 1.6m to now 1.4m and less, but I think we’ll see a reversal of that, as people won’t want to sit so close together.
The HQ for the Bee’ah Waste Management company in Sharjah, UAE has been designed with ‘contactless pathways’ in order to avoid touching surfaces when navigating through the building. The office doors are also to use motion sensors and facial recognition. Smartphone technology is to be utilised when calling lifts in the building, so whether you are on your way up or down this eliminates the need to press any buttons.
Exactly Like Your Living Room?
Despite some of these futuristic construction ideas, we still wonder whether or not so much rebuilding will take place if ‘Working from Home’ continues to take precedence. With this in mind, could our Offices post lockdown actually continue to look like our living rooms / home offices for a very long time? For those of you in Finance, you may have already come across the news of Barclays Boss Jes Staley stating how ‘the notion of putting 7,000 people in the building may be a thing of a past’. With remote working actually saving businesses from having to pay the expenses of corporate buildings, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if most employers wish to keep it as a success.
Whatever the outcome of our Office designs, humans continuously prove themselves as the most adaptive species. Where Coronavirus produced thousands of homeworkers across the UK, the same homeworkers have learnt how to successfully cope in these unconventional workspaces. It goes without saying that returning professionals, will soon integrate and make the most of their new surroundings the same way.