As we near the midpoint of 2021, a return to “normalcy” appears inevitable as lockdowns subside and vaccines continue to roll out. And yet, a likely outcome does not signify an easy one. In the wake of the paradigm shift that has been COVID-19, it has become important for modern businesses to acknowledge their role in the “new normal” by providing workplaces that are reflective of their times.
“Work wise” is now the new “work smart.” Modern office designs need to take into account the liabilities of the past while anticipating the problems in the future. Not only that, they have gained a newfound maturity, one borne of an awareness that extends far beyond its own doors.
As such, modern offices need to implement urgent changes to their workplace designs. Here are some of the most pertinent developments you’ll find in workplace designs this year:
A Safe & Healthy Work Environment
A productive workplace is one that is safe and healthy for its workers. To implement this, businesses need to incorporate Wellness Solutions into their office designs.
As we first mentioned in our blog from last year, these solutions include:
- Socially-distanced workstations;
- Handwashing and hand sanitizing stations;
- Improved air circulation; and
- PPE dispensers.
Create a safe workplace for your employees by erecting physical barriers such as sneeze guards, shield barriers and room dividers. Introduce modular cubicles as a way to segregate
workstations and reception areas. Invest in touchless technologies that reduce physical contact to a minimum. Another option are autonomous public sanitizing machines that can keep your workplace sanitized throughout the day.
And there’s still more to consider. Besides physical health, a good office design should take into account the mental health of its workers, as we also wrote about in our blog.
Integrate safety into the fundamental design of your workplace, and the benefits will last for years.
A small, positive consequence of the pandemic is how everyone’s priorities have improved. We’ve all come to eschew the superfluous, and embrace that which is truly important in our lives. And, in the process of providing a safe environment for employees, more businesses have begun prioritizing efforts towards creating a better environment for future generations.
The top office designs of this year have bigger goals than just productivity. They are aware of their impact on the environment, and want to reduce their carbon footprint by adopting measures such as:
- Installing LED lighting;
- Allowing for more natural lighting through windows and skylights;
- Becoming compliant with certifications like LEEDS and Fitwel;
- Incorporating low-emission and recycled materials into construction;
- Encouraging alternative transportation use (ie. biking) by providing lockers, and bike storage; and
- Providing commuting incentives.
Many businesses are becoming more accepting of their role as stewards of the environment, and you can as well. By creating a more sustainable future, you can help take the steps towards a type of profitability that can be enjoyed by everyone.
A Flexible and Adaptable Workspace
As your industry continues to adapt to new challenges, your workplace will need to remain as flexible as ever. As your in-office staff fluctuates to meet work-from-home demands and changing labour requirements, businesses need to accommodate on-the-fly changes with a responsive workspace.
One solution for providing a flexible work space is Hot Desking, a practice where individual desks in a workspace are fully decked for use by multiple employees. By sharing desks between workers, an office can reduce the number of used desks and optimize office space. Although this option won’t apply to workers that require stationary computers that have performance requirements or security restrictions, this option applies to laptop-equipped workers and can be facilitated by modular furniture.
Offices can further stretch their flexibility by making workspaces bookable, or by alternating workdays when employees come to the office.
Redefining the Office
Despite the problems it presents, a crisis is nevertheless an opportunity for change. This year’s workplace designs are taking advantage of a new way of thinking in order to present an office that is more attuned to the needs of its workers and business.
Working from home has become a popular option for many businesses; however, it also showed its limitations. For this reason, an office has shown itself to be an essential space for collaboration where working face-to-face can provide more meaningful interactions. For this reason, workspace designs are aligning themselves with layouts that put an emphasis on face-to-face interactions with the hope of inspiring creative sparks that lead to innovative solutions.
As well, this reconfiguration also gives a chance to redefine office culture and to question the role of an office to its workers. As such, look for office designs to emphasize employee perks like entertainment and exercise options that encourage employees to go back to the office.
A New Office for a New Era
The world has changed, and with it our design predictions from last year. All the same, we remain steadfast that the return to the office will come sooner than later. By incorporating these hot trends, you can create an office design that is tailor-made for a new era.
For more information on workplace designs that can help your office prepare for a post-Coronavirus environment, be sure to contact us today!