At a moment in which millions of people have been vaccinated and public lockdowns are subsiding across the world, we can look to the future with optimism knowing that a return to normality is getting closer. Even with a long way still left to go, we won’t have to wait—not when it comes to office design.
Instead, we can begin to implement the hard-learned lessons of the pandemic right now. Our priorities have become so much more clearer under the danger of COVID-19. As a result, we are now more focused than ever on what’s truly important to a professional workspace.
Here are the key COVID-19 takeaways you should keep in mind when it comes to workplace design. This is a list of the most important aspects to an office, and includes possible ways of implementation that can help future-proof your workplace.
1. Fresh Air
Nothing is more important than ensuring the health and safety of your employees and clients. To help prevent the spread of airborne diseases, the design of your workplace needs to provide air circulation that will keep your workers safe and your guests happy.
As seen over the past two years, many offices have responded well to this need. This includes setting up workplace configurations that emphasize social distancing, or use shielding and protective coverings.
But, there’s still more that a good workplace design can do. Future offices will likely feature design innovations such as:
- Openable office windows: Although traditional office windows are designed to stay shut, new advancements will make office windows both openable and completely sealable. This will help to conserve energy and bring outside air into the office environment.
- Displacement ventilation: This new ventilation concept will help office workers breathe better by cycling in air from below instead of above. In this way, fresh air won’t conflict with heated exhaled air that rises to the ceiling.
The open office concept has suffered during the pandemic as workers do their best to find their own space in a confined environment. But with proper ventilation, offices of all kinds can get the fresh air they need.
Without a doubt, the pandemic has stressed the importance of public hygiene. Hand washing is an important part to mitigating the spread of diseases, as is refraining from touching your eyes and mouth with your hands in public.
To maintain a healthy environment, workplaces can implement design changes that include:
- Increasing hand wash/sanitizing stations: New office designs can feature additional sinks that aren’t limited to bathrooms and kitchens, and introduce hand sanitizing stations at areas where people converge.
- Hands-free operation: Prevent the physical transmission of diseases by encouraging the use of hands-free devices in your office. This could include doors and light switches that operate with the wave of a hand. Or, instead of installing doors that need to be opened, consider building rooms without doors (such as a bathroom with a zig-zag entrance).
As new innovations in automation and ultraviolet light continue to be unveiled, look for new ways that will allow us to keep a professional office space clean and healthy.
The pandemic has shown us the need for the natural environment to be represented in our workplaces. Instead of a sterile, artificial environment, professional office space needs to be lively and organic. Your office needs to have an invigorating quality that can inspire your staff and improve their mental well-being.
To help bring the outside indoors, consider these design upgrades for your office:
- Interior plants: Offices can incorporate greenery into their environment in a multitude of ways. Consider adding an indoor green wall to your office that provides a dash of much-needed colour along with a breath of fresh air.
- Exterior light: Stop keeping your office in the dark; warm it up by adding more sunlight. Try an office design that emphasizes more windows or, if conditions allow, install a light well that can bring natural light into the centre of your office.
- Artificial waterfall/running water: Although it may not feature the same practical benefits, introducing water elements to your office can help create a calm and peaceful atmosphere. More than that, consider this upgrade as a way to provide ambient sound to an open environment without the need for white noise or background music.
All these elements can play a prominent role in an open space interior design; consider implementing these as upgrades to give the best to your office.
The Office: Re-Defined
The exodus from the office over the last two years has enabled the work-from-home phenomenon, and for that, we now have to deal with a re-examining of the traditional office space. What is its purpose? What does it signify to your business?
The pandemic has shown us that workers can be productive in different environments. And, more than that, it has also shown us that offices aren’t going to disappear; rather, they are going to adapt to your business needs.
This re-examining provides a great opportunity for businesses to figure out the purpose for which they want their office space to serve:
- A team space: For the best interactivity, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. Since in-person meetings provide the optimal conditions for communication, consider optimizing your office interior for this purpose.
- Host amenities & services: Give a reason for workers to come to the office by providing amenities and services they can’t get at home. Consider adding gym facilities and entertainment features as downtime options, or arrange for services that encourage employees to make the trek to the office.
- Hybrid office space: Many businesses are responding to the work-from-home trend by adopting hybrid workplace configurations along with workplace strategies like hot desking. Learn more in our blogs about the challenges of adopting hybrid workplaces as well as the key technology required by this special environment.
As workplace designs evolve to solve problems of the “new normal,” offices and workplaces will become more suited to meet the challenges that lie ahead. By staying true to our priorities, we can improve office interior spaces that allow businesses to fully thrive and succeed.
Find out how you can improve your office workplace with the interior design experts at Sensyst! Contact us today!