The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we look at things, especially social spaces like workplaces.
So many things have been interrupted or forced to adjust to suit the new normal.
Employers are embracing methods to keep the work going while observing the measures put up by governments. Today, employees must wear masks before being allowed on the premises, observe social distancing by spacing workstations, and working from home or in shifts.
The office layout has also been affected as the organisers need to plan the spacing carefully to allow for social distancing, create employee schedules, and incorporate new technology that will help in the prevention of outbreaks.
The primary lesson we have learned from COVID-19 is always to be ready for anything if you want to survive.
With this, you should expect changes at your office since many business owners are integrating preventive measures into their offices in case of future pandemics.
New design trends are coming up to create pandemic-proof offices like open-plan offices that maximise the working space. Some of these design trends are as follows.
1. Minimalist Furniture
Minimalism is the idea of making space look larger but using the only needed equipment and accessories. It is possible by using colours that make a small space seem large, i.e., white with a contrasting black, grey, or dark blue, but still staying stylish.
Minimalist design does not mean boring; you can use furniture and other office accessories with unique designs that allow work to be done while being decorative. You can incorporate geometrical shapes, exciting edges, and inviting coloursMinimising to the furniture to make them look more modest.
Also, the material used to make this furniture should be in sync with the general idea. Metal and wood are the best material to use for your furniture as they complement the walls nicely, especially if they are stone, ceramic, or glass.
Moreover, there is no need for too many bookshelves and counters that fill the space with no significant purpose. Integrating the minimalist design into your workspace permits better social distancing.
2. Implementing Hot Desking / Office Pods
Implementing modern designs or trends into your office space helps greatly with preventive measures and employee productivity.
Hot desking is a versatile technique with no assigned desk for employees; instead, they choose where to work daily. It has several advantages like improved organisation as there will be fewer scattered items, it is easier to disinfect and maintain, more space is utilised, and employees enjoy the flexibility of sitting at different positions every day.
On the other hand, using office pods promotes social distancing and reduces distractions when working. Office pods are self-contained rooms that provide a solitary space for workers to concentrate on their work and improve productivity.
Research shows that office pods reduce infectious diseases in workplaces meaning there will be fewer sick leaves. They come in several designs; some are permanent while others are mobile. They are built with soundproof technology, contain a desk and seat and other items necessary in an office.
3. Better Ventilation
Ventilation plays a vital role in reducing the risk of infections in workplaces. In the wake of the pandemic, it is clear that most buildings require modifications in terms of ventilation and spacing.
A well-ventilated office improves the efficiency and creativity of employees thus, will reflect in the overall return of your business. In offices, the machines used like computers, typewriters, photocopy machines, etc., may increase temperatures in the room. If there is no proper ventilation, health issues such as headaches and fatigue arise.
4. Smaller Conference Rooms
Minimizing conference rooms means that you will be minimising the number of people attending meetings. It is one way of ensuring everyone’s safety at the office without compromising on the daily activities.
If a meeting needs more people to be present, then you can hold virtual meetings for the rest of those unable to fit in the conference room.
You can also improve productivity with smart glass when incorporated into meeting rooms as walls.
5. Hygiene Stations
Hand hygiene has been proven to be among the top ways to curb the spread of infections. With workers slowly returning to work, you need to incorporate hand hygiene stations at the entryways and other communal areas.
Invest in modern automatic hand sanitiser dispensers that minimise manual handling at every sink in the building. Measures like this make employees feel safe in the office, and this guarantees an increased output.
Additionally, communal areas need to be disinfected regularly after every use to ensure that it is safe for further usage. Introduce hand washing initiatives like signs and directions at the office to remind everyone of the benefits of handwashing.
Over the years, indoor plants have been a design style in spaces from homes, restaurants, buildings, and offices. Although the concept has not been embraced fully, the idea of greenery in an office is very beneficial.
Indoor plants are stress relievers in that they create a serene environment providing a sense of tranquillity and relaxation. When employees feel this way, they tend to be more productive and active during working hours.
7. Outdoor Office Spaces
The idea of outdoor office space has existed for years now; however, in the era of COVID-19, employers have seen the benefits an outdoor office will bring to both the company and employees.
Outdoor spaces provide fresh air, natural light, and a comfortable, serene environment to work. The advantages of this concept are; it is easier to maintain social distance as employees will spread out, boost creativity, and the mood in the office, and increase the ROI.
A tip for outdoor office spaces, ensure that the furniture and other accessories you use to design are resilient enough to withstand natural elements like sunlight and humidity.
Some technological developments that boost hygiene and efficiency via promoting minimal contact have been innovated to help curb the spread of the of the virus
1. Smart Glass
Smart/switchable glass is a glass that uses advanced technology to change from transparent to translucent with the touch of a button. These changes are possible when there is variation in light, heat, and voltage.
Smart glass is utilised in various places, including offices, for meeting rooms walls and windows. So, how does this intelligent glass help in infection prevention?
Switchable glass is a hygienic alternative to traditional walls and curtains as they are effortless to clean and sterilise. Some custom smart glass comes with inbuilt antibacterial properties which promote hygiene in the office.
2. Touchless Signing-In
Touchless signing-in is a valuable technology that should be integrated into every workplace to eliminate the use of hands. Program the device to record employee attendance without manual handling.
Also, the technology can measure the temperatures of everyone that enters the premises and alert the medical teams in case there is any spike of temperature above the normal.
Just like the touchless signing-in, automation technology also minimizes contact. Modify the office door handles with sensors to open whenever there is a need to enter a room.
Furthermore, sensors can be put in tap sinks and soap dispensers to reduce the chances of infections at the office.
4. Voice Activated Elevators
Elevators are an easier way of getting around in buildings from different floors, and they are used frequently with other people, from workers to visitors.
It is not a guarantee that all these people adhere to hygiene standards set to curb infections. Hence, using voice-activated elevators in buildings facilitate sanitation.
5. Enhanced Security
Smart glass technology enhances security as they are built with very durable and long-lasting material. Also, its ability to change from translucent to opaque offers privacy and a sense of security for employees.
The smart glass has other uses like UV and infrared resistance, fireproof, reduce distracting noise at the workplace, and energy saving. Its UV resistant property protects you from harmful rays and prevents fabrics and valuable furniture from fading.
Moreover, with modern technology, security has been improved. For instance, you can remote control your office doors and alarms to ensure you get alerts whenever there is suspicious activity in your premises.
Also, ensure your office data is encrypted to prevent access by hackers by hiring the best IT specialists, as cyber crimes are on the rise.
Technological advancements are made to make things easier, and with the emergence of new infectious diseases, they can be utilised to curb the spread and eventually stop the infection.
It is essential for business owners to incorporate these innovations to help improve their workspace and thus improve productivity.
Smart glass technology is an excellent example of such technologies that enhance offices’ appearance and effectiveness.