How Covid has changed office space
Every organisation and culture is different. In this (somewhat) post-covid world, people are starting to make decisions on where and how they want to work. This grand re-shuffle of our society’s workforce, has allowed a dramatic amount of freedom in people choosing the way in which they want to operate their daily lives.
Whilst some businesses have fully moved to a remote working culture, many others have understood the need for a HQ. Some businesses struggle to operate without personal interaction, and have a real need for a physical location from which to call its home.
As we start to return to whatever this ‘new normal’ is, we have to re-define what the cultural norms are when working in close contact with other people. How do we implement ways to ensure that all of our staff are safe? Lots of what we used to deem as normal can soon render people into a state of paranoia, as concerns over communal well-being have never been higher.
Now is the time to be the company that cares. The business that puts the people’s wellbeing first. Everything should be clean, planned, orchestrated in a fashion that puts people at ease and is conducive to an efficient workforce. This new necessity has many remedies, some better than others.
Let’s have a look at the specifics…
What can you as an employer do to make your staff feel safe?
Step 1) Office Layout
We got very comfortable with the idea of modular desks for the individual and big meeting rooms for conferences now didn’t we? Let’s change it up.
The big conference meeting is out, a massive boardroom with 20 people sat around the same table just doesn’t seem necessary nowadays. As many people also get used to the idea of not having to travel for business all that much, people just can’t seem to justify the journey for a meeting.
Meeting rooms can now be smaller, without compromising on ensuring people are well spaced apart. The key feature being decent boardroom audio visual tech that allows a team to work together over distances. This is not a new technology, in fact it is practically ancient; investment bankers in the 80’s used to use this technology (although at great financial expense). So you don’t have to do your best Patrick Bateman impression when trying to impress new clients.
Have you ever had the misfortune of working in a stuffy office with little ventilation? The smell of your co-worker cracking open tupperware from last night’s dinner, it’s such a visceral emotion. The hate, the disgust, the overall understanding that they have to eat… But why do you have to suffer? Ventilation and clean air is paramount in a modern workspace. Not only do we have to start putting more focus on the physical wellbeing of our team, mental wellbeing is also extremely important in creating an efficient team.
So, when designing your office space, you need to consider the flow of air throughout the building. What spaces are next to dining areas/toilets? There are loads of lovely low maintenance plants that can be introduced to the space to create clean air too: Aloe Vera, Pothos plants, Spider plants, Areca Palms; just to name a few. Not only do these plants clean the air, but also offer stress relief and boost productivity.
Step 2) Tech
There’s a whole bunch of new and handy tech out there that will revolutionise the way that your business operates.
Let’s start at the beginning: How are people getting into your new fancy office?
Pre-covid, people relied on keys and access numbers to get into buildings. Some of the nicer places had ways to scan in through an RFID chip either in a badge or on a lanyard. Nowadays we have far more sophisticated ways of doing things. Biometrics is the key word here, as the security industry has been booming with new facial recognition software that can grant access into a building at a glance.
For example, this piece of kit will allow your team to enter and exit the building by using your face as a password. It’s scary how close we are getting to that sci-fi magic. This means that there will be far fewer points of contact that people will be touching within the building, far reducing the risk of transferring harmful pathogens. These security systems can also act as a clock in machine, meaning that the system will log who is in the building at any time.
So, you’re in the building. How do you know that everything is clean and ready for use?
Knowledge of antimicrobial substances is a pretty ancient technology. The Egyptians used copper to make sterile drinking water, silver had been used within bandages to help close wounds quicker due to its antimicrobial effects. That was quite a while ago, so what can modern technology offer us to keep us safe and healthy?
High contact areas such as door handles, desk drawers, windows and mouse pads can be sprayed with special nanocoatings. This special coating will continually enable the surface to self sanitise, giving you and your office peace of mind.
Hand sanitiser spaces have become the norm now too. Think about where in the office a pump or three would be the most effective.
There’s a lot that goes into keeping your staff safe and happy. But the rewards that you can reap make it so worthwhile. Happy, motivated staff will be far more productive than the alternative.
So give it some thought, what are you going to do to look after your office and it’s wonderful inhabitants?