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The Changing Face Of The Workplace Post COVID 19 And How You Can Adapt

The Changing Face Of The Workplace post-Covid-19 Lockdown

And How You Can Adapt To Make It Work

In light of our now living in the COVID-19 era, it’s fair to say that the office landscape as we know it will need to be “tweaked” in line with a new norm of social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus and protect employees and the wider community. We need to plan our return to the workplace with a new approach, whilst continuing our endeavours to maintain the standards and guidelines issued by the Government and HSE during this pandemic. COVID-19 has most definitely propelled remote working, agility, I.T and technology to the forefront, and now we need to give serious consideration to how we will work effectively and safely in the office environment into the future.

Office V Home Office

There is no denying that remote working will become a more common feature in the future of work, but it is also very important to recognise the value that the physical office workplace provides for a business in terms of the company culture, but also in terms of it being the central hub for all employees. Valuable social and business interaction being top of the list; after all, we are social creatures and despite our occasional protestations about the workplace, we thrive on the interfacing – little did you think you would miss the chat, gossip, politics and coffee runs.

Yes, remote working can offer you a better stab at the work-life balance but separating home life from work life becomes more difficult. Commuting to a physical office is vital in creating the barrier between the two. It removes the temptation to be on call 24/7 and encourages us all to switch off and rest. Some meetings are still essential in a face to face environment, especially if brainstorming sessions are involved.

For most companies, a physical office will always be integral to the company’s structure and success and therefore the key is adapting to the changes brought about by COVID-19 so that the advantages of home working and being office-based can be evened out.

What Will A Successful Business Need To Do To Survive…. And Thrive?

In previous articles, we have spoken of the need for agility and the implementation of technology to promote flexibility. The recognition that to succeed your team doesn’t need to be in your office day in, day out.  That said, the office will be especially important to the success of your business and needs to be adapted accordingly. We have spoken about the importance of the workplace as an expression of your brand, now more than ever this will be critical. How you reorganise your office landscape will be of utmost importance to you and your workforce, especially as it grows.

As it stands, we all understand and are adhering to the government policies around social distancing in our community, but how do we apply that to the workplace? With that in mind, we have collated a list of suggestions that will help you in your planning;

  • Space Planning, Reconfiguration and Redesign

Your current floorplans and general layout may potentially not be conducive to safe social distancing and will need to be tailored in an effort to ensure protection of employees. Rotating desks so that employees face different directions when protective barriers are not feasible, adding new elements to desks such as perspex divider screens, storage units and plants will achieve the division needed. A carefully planned space and redesigned floorplan will enable you maximise your space without minimising your options.

  • Combining Office-Based Working with Remote Working

As a result of your newly designed floorplan, you might experience a reduction in desks on site. This doesn’t not mean you need to reduce your headcount. With a combination of strategic remote and office-based working, you can limit the opportunity of the virus spreading among teams and offer your workforce the agility and flexibility that everyone benefits from. Employees who continue to work from home will likely require ergonomic furniture to work comfortably and reduce discomfort, fatigue and repetitive strain injury.

  • Review Meeting Room Layouts

Do your current meeting rooms immediately breach the requirement for social distancing when populated with your team? Can they be repurposed in favour of more open-plan meeting areas? Meetings may need to take place in the open-plan, in a standing setting to ensure social distance. Video conferencing will be very prevalent given that travel is likely to be restricted and not recommended for some time, so ensuring meetings take place in a location in the office that facilitates video conferencing / Zoom meetings will be important.

  • Mobile Meeting Spaces incl. Meeting Pods

Flexible solutions will be critical to ensuring collaboration remains in the office. Technology such as the Samsung Flip Digital Whiteboard is not only mobile but allows you to share the whiteboard via virtual meeting apps such as Microsoft teams and Zoom. You can now host team meetings at any time, regardless of the location of your team.

Mobile panels with built-in acoustics and glass boards by Lintex are also a smart solution enabling you to create meeting spaces with privacy. Individual, privacy pods such as the Inno Pod by Ocee Design is an innovative mobile pod that provides a physical shield that can be easily moved. The Hana by MDD also allows single users privacy for conference calls in an acoustic setting.

  • Flexible furniture

Manufacturers like Actiu, MDD, Friends of Wilson, Caimi and Lintex have for a long time been creating functional and aesthetically pleasing office furniture and accessories. The immediate focus for companies re-opening offices will be ensuring physical distance measures of 2m and where this is not feasible, introducing furniture such as desk divider screens, storage units, plants and tall mobile dividers to offer a protective solution for employees. Hygienic solutions that can be easily maintained and ideally moved and reconfigured throughout the office as needed will be of key focus.

  •  Perspex Protective Screen Guards

The Protect Anti-Bacterial Screen from Technology Desking offers another versatile solution, limiting the risks of airborne germs between colleagues whilst still enabling full visibility and interfacing.  This screen guard is also available as a desk top extension, adding height to your existing desk screens.  Not only are these screens an ideal solution for the office, but they are also adaptable to your customer-facing areas such as reception areas and retail spaces.

And last, but not least…..

  • Office House Keeping

One of the simplest tasks is the need to review your office hygiene and housekeeping standards to minimise the spread of any virus. Given that we have all been practising this at home for the last number of months, adapting this to the workplace will take little time.  Office House Keeping is something that everyone will be invested in. Employees may require their own individual mouse and keyboard in a shared desk environment. Accessibility to sanitisation products to clean work surfaces before and after use will be required in order to ensure everyone plays their part to work in a safe environment. Individual, personal locker units for employees sharing desk spaces will be a useful addition to achieve this.

Our in-house interiors specialists will work with you to help you navigate your way through these changes and challenges. Thanks to the expert help of our inhouse CAD specialist, space planning will be plain sailing. Don’t hesitate to call our team on 01 217 8000 or contact us via info@bizquip.ie for any queries you may have.

Connect with the author, Keith Bannan