Will the workplace ever be the same? Will anyone ever feel “normal” again at work?
The true answer is – no one knows what’s in store for us all following Covid-19! I personally feel as if it has almost taken what I thought would be miles in the future and fast forwarded it to today – Flexi working, video conferences, apps to monitor who you interact with, track & trace, social break out spaces, work stations that encourage fitness, the list is endless!
At present working in an office environment has not been the “norm” for most people in 2020. With businesses now taking the tentative footsteps to return employees to an office on a part-time basis, or on rotations with other colleagues to keep us all socially distanced and safe. This has left office spaces as large empty voids where your nearest neighbour is over 2m away, and use of the social space is not social as you can’t meet anyone.
Lockdown has truly affected people’s mental wellbeing and has led to anxiety, loneliness and isolation. However, it has also given us chance to reconnect with our natural environment, reflect on our own humanity and pace of life. People are returning to the office environment with a completely different perspective to when they left six months ago.
We at idesign understand this and know that to create the correct office environment now is more important than ever. When designing an office layout, we are considering current government guidelines but also designing for a future where we can return to work safely and implement certain procedures that need to remain in place.
We believe that offices that allow for flexibility are likely to be the winners where it comes to office design. With social distancing guidelines in place offices are needing to be three times bigger than they are currently to accommodate safety for office workers, to which with clever space planning and redesign we can make this possible without moving buildings!
Remote working is likely to continue well into 2021 to which less people will be using the current offices. We need to be cleverly creative and change the use of this otherwise ‘empty sparce space’. Taller buildings where they rely heavily on lifts to get to various floors may well become less desirable as we learn to live with this virus. We may even have to have certain pathways that point office workers in certain directions to avoid too much foot traffic in the same space and key entrances and exits.
We imagine the office to now have open plan spaces to allow for social distancing, people to exercise and use as break out spaces. Instead of row upon row of empty desks we visualise more private meeting areas like phone booths and pods to have adhoc meetings in. There will be hand sanitising stations and upholstery that are easier to keep clean. Desks in the open plan area will have acoustic screens to separate them, graphics on the floor to remind people to keep their distance and smaller furniture to enable more space around areas.
We as a company have designed some unique pieces of furniture and pods that will be available to purchase very soon, following our new launch next month. These pieces of furniture and pods have been carefully thought about and innovated to help with social distancing in the office and education sectors. We can’t wait to show them to you!!
The virus has certainly given a lot of challenges and as Interior Designers it gives us a new challenge to help make the workplace a safer place for the future, to increase the wellbeing of its users and still deliver an innovative and creative overall look…..
We certainly accept this challenge and are excited to announce our new sub-brand in October 2020…… Watch this space……
Thanks for reading 😊
Ashton – Residential Manager