The Modern Office Post Covid19
The COVID-19 pandemic established new social behaviours and expectations, especially within the workplace. As the Australian Government braces themselves to bring workers back into their offices to reduce the curve of unemployment, new adjustments are to become the new normal.
To ensure the safety of all workers it is best to implement social distancing measures and good hygiene practices. The presence of hand sanitisers and cleaning products have become more prominent in the office but more measures need to be taken. Commercial real estate firm, Cushman and Wakefield addressed that between leaving the house and arriving home from work there are forty touch points that could potentially transmit Coronavirus during the day. From door handles to elevators many elements can put workers at risk. Therefore highlighting the importance of creating a socially-distanced office space. Here are some of the potential changes we could see in the ‘new’ workplace.
- Signage and Movement
Workplaces are already implementing greater signage to ensure the 1.5 metre social distancing rule in the workplace by installing floor decals where necessary. The designation of single entry/exit points are also being put in place for a safer and more structured flow of movement. A method already adopted by health care facilities
- Kitchen Spaces
Changes in the workplace kitchen are likely to be put into place. Expect a shift from metal cutlery to wooden, disposable alternatives. Cafes are already refusing the use of reusable keep cups and strictly using coffee cups to reduce risk of transmission. Furthermore, a shift to individually packaged or pre-packed alternatives are likely to be put in place. Such practices are sure to be considered to minimise contact employees have with objects and further reduce the spread of germs.
- Use of Technology
The adoption of technology to regulate and ease transmission of Coronavirus has already been put in place in some offices. The use of Wi-fi data can now sense areas in the office where high volumes of people are present. Such technology is similar to the COVID Safe application made by the Australian Government in which Bluetooth data is collected to track people’s locations and notify individuals of nearby positive cases..
Temperature checks have also become portable, as seen through Cushman and Wakefield’s application which enables workers to conduct temperature checks before arriving at the office. Another remarkable use of technology can be seen through the Bee’ah Waste Management Headquarters in UAE. The headquarters designed by Zaha Hadid Architects utilises functions that reduce physical contact within the building itself. Facial recognition technology and motion sensors open doors while lifts can be requested via smartphone. Such technological advancements are increasingly useful to reduce disease transmission and it’s no surprise that technology will be utilised to reform the post-covid workplace.
- Desk Structure
Offices will possibly witness changes in their furniture as well. Desk sizes are sure to increase to maintain effective social distancing. According to Arjun Kaiker, head of Analytics and Insights of Zaha Hadid Architects, “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”. Such changes made to desks would ensure workers maintain a safe distance around their colleagues.
Furthermore, hygiene practices will also potentially be placed to minimise transmission onto surfaces. Cushman and Wakefield have already enforced paper placemats to be put on desks and be thrown out at the end of the day. Similar practices are likely to be adopted in other offices in the near future.
COVID-19 has brought forth an abundance of changes, the world today has become a powder keg of uncertainty. Despite these trying times we need to stay calm and really consider how to make the workplace as safe as possible. As socio-economic changes regarding the Coronavirus restrictions are to be made by the Australian Government this Friday, it poses the question as to how else the workplace landscape will be shaped in a Post-Covid period. Any thoughts? Comment them down below, we would love to hear your input!