COVID-19 is here to stay, it seems; actually, if you read the science blogs, it’s been among us for millennia. Its leap from animals to humans is, of course, what brought it among us in a way that makes all the difference in its impact. Since it is here to stay among humans, however, it’s essential that we learn to live and work with it and around it, and with respect to the way we are affected by it. To that end, it’s especially crucial to office design in Newport Beach, in terms of spaces and workplaces. Here are some of the considerations we’re seeing designers make and adhere to when designing workplaces that respect the impact of COVID-19:
- Use of space: Offices that were crammed together or had people sitting close to each other can no longer function in this way, so space has to be analyzed and utilized differently. Desks and work spaces must be effectively spaced to accommodate responsible social-distancing measures. In workplaces with an open floor plan, barriers should be added.
- Cleaning: Rigorous cleaning measures need to be adopted that ensure optimal cleanliness and sanitation. Daily cleaning of workspace, either by the employees who occupy them or by a separate cleaning staff, must be adopted. Cleaning and sanitization supplies should be readily available and all employees must know where they are located. Cleaning protocols, schedules, and expectations must be clearly communicated.
- New space layouts: Adding glass barriers or higher screens to desks and workspaces in future office layouts for employee protection are important considerations. Increased and better options for videoconferencing should be made available, whether that be at each individual workspace or in conference rooms, as travel is likely to be slowed temporarily. The establishment of safety protocols and procedures for return to the office after traveling is also something that should be taken into consideration.
- Working from home: More and more companies will likely support working from home as a permanent measure for many of their employees to encourage safe work habits and ensure utmost workplace safety. While working from home may not be ideal or even viable for some employees, employers should be analyzing work-from-home strategies to determine who can best work from home, as well as working with employees on a case-by-case basis to determine who can most easily work from home. Employers should also be ready to provide support to employees who work from home in terms of materials, IT assistance, and other accommodations.
- Science-based technologies: As the modern workplace continues to evolve, creating spaces that are adaptive and fluid is important. Developing offices with an innovative look is crucial to understanding modern business needs during COVID-19. The essentials of creating a workplace where a business can thrive all boils down to creativity and flexibility.
- Virtual experiences: More and more companies are going to be leaping onto the virtual bandwagon, with teleconferencing, videoconferencing, 3-D experiences that allow employees and clients alike to become immersed in the concepts and constructs as they flow, and more. Design ideas that embrace the fluidity of technology will be embraced. We are only at the tip of the iceberg in terms of virtual experiences, and the possibilities are unlimited.
- A new sense of togetherness: The pandemic crisis has given many a renewed sense of community, and this frequently extends to our workplaces. We spend a lot of time at work and a lot of time with our colleagues. The crisis itself pushed many of us away from each other and into a forced working from home situation. Many of us didn’t like it. The return to the office, for many, is a celebration! It’s a time to acknowledge our perseverance and our coming back together. Designers need to consider this too in making communal and other shared spaces.
Overall, designers and builders are going to have to start thinking in more creative ways to accommodate the changes that we’ve had to make in our lives as the result of COVID-19. Offices, and the spaces within those offices, are going to be designed in new and interesting ways. DBaC Inc., at the forefront of modern design, is interested to see what the future of commercial office design will bring.