In our latest blog, we curated advice on staying focused and productive while working from home. However, certain roles require working from the office or can be performed better in an office environment. Hence, it is crucial to start preparing ourselves and our office for returning back to work.
The most important aspect to look into is office design. Open-plan designs are the norm in modern offices. They are designed to increase interaction and collaborative work among colleagues. The bench-style workstations are also very efficient in space-saving as it allows multiple people to work in less space. Having said that, due to the recent circumstances, our priorities are shifting; there is a need to integrate social distancing measures in the office layout. From start-ups to large multinational companies, every organisation will have to take action. Rather than investing in a completely new office plan, you will notice reconfiguration of the existing office space to accommodate health and safety measures. All these changes might lead to a different working scenario than what you are used to. Based on our experience in the office furniture industry, we have listed a few in which working from the office will be different going forward.
#1 Fewer People in the Office
In the short-term, there will be fewer people working from the office. With workstations being farther apart from each other, the existing office space will not allow all employees to follow social distancing. Hence, there will be a phased return of work to the office, which means, many of your coworkers will either remain working from home or, for jobs that require working from the office, work in shifts. Some companies like Twitter are even allowing their employees to work from home permanently.
#2 Change in the Office Layout
We will observe a shift towards closed office plans. We are talking about increasing distance between desks, installing cubicles or private booths where people have their own assigned space. Adding physical barriers between workspaces like desk partitions with retrofitted screen toppers or plexiglass screen barriers, also known as sneeze guards, at reception desks and even between workstations. Alternatively, freestanding floor screens are a great choice for creating individual workstations. Conference or meeting rooms will be able to hold fewer people at a time with chairs being placed farther apart from each other. Other measures could be making hallways one-way to prevent cross-traffic, opting for materials that can withstand heavy cleaning like stone or laminates instead of porous wood, and using fabrics that are bleach-resistant.
#3 Visual Cues
Visual cues like social distancing floor signs or health and safety wall posters will become a common sight around the office. It will not be unusual to see floor decals for standing spots in lifts and corridor lanes or circle markings around desks for reminding people to stay 2 meters apart, like the ones we see in supermarkets. Areas like break rooms or the kitchen will especially have signage with detailed instructions on topics like disinfecting shared equipment after use or room capacity.
#4 Better Hygiene Standards
Hygiene standards will be taken seriously now, more than ever before, impacting also social habits. Everything from the way we used to greet our colleagues with a handshake to other social etiquettes, which were acceptable before, will change. People will be required to wash or sanitise their hands after entering the office in the morning or coming back from a break. You will notice in your workplace hand sanitising stations at the entrance and exits, as well as notice signs in the toilets and kitchen area to wash your hands. Also, ample cleaning supplies like disinfectant sprays, antibacterial wipes and more will be provided at the workplace and easy to reach everywhere in the office.
#5 Going Contactless
Contactless technology has been around for some time however, we expect to see more of it in the office. Efforts will be made to eradicate highly frequent touchpoints like door handles, light switches, lift buttons and so on. All the common touch spots could be replaced by low touch or no touch fixtures. You might see more of automatic doors, or do mundane tasks like calling the lift or switching on the coffee machine with your smartphone. All these measures will be made to avoid touching surfaces that might be contaminated.
Office life as we know it is about to change; whether it is a small change like sitting farther apart from your desk partner at work, or a big one like permanently working from home. It is advisable that we make the most of the current situation and continue being productive and safe by adapting to the new hygiene etiquettes.
Our Back to Work solutions offer protective equipment to practice social distancing in the workplace. These tools aim to reduce the risk of virus transmission by increasing the physical distance between coworkers. Contact our expert team today to get advice on getting your office ready for working safely or simply visit our website