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Revamping Your Office in 2021: What You Need to Consider

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by Startacus Admin


If you're planning a return to the office, even on a hybrid basis - here are the key elements that you'll need to look at...

photo-1601931537483-87b3d1dc6a67As 2021 continues to roll out, employees are beginning to return to their physical offices. However, things are not the same in the high-rise buildings that used to be bustling and packed. Companies are now ensuring that their headquarters are free from pathogens and that everyone inside will be one hundred per cent safe as they return to work.

While working from home served its purpose, the comeback of physical offices means that offices must implement multiple layouts and design changes. Although not all companies are entirely returning to the face-to-face setup (some will be making hybrid arrangements), it is still imperative that they ensure that offices will not be the site of a health and safety crisis.

Design in the workplace context has forever changed, and aesthetics are no longer the only thing offices must worry about in that area. Specific art elements now have a double meaning as safety becomes a more significant concern from now on.

Investing in Actual Space

Before the pandemic, complaints about the physical space in workplaces were common. In some offices, people could barely walk around the floor without bumping into each other. Files got mixed up due to the lack of space between desks, and people grew accustomed to the tightly-packed rooms that housed dozens of meetings.

This time around, the norms have changed. It's important to keep your workforce safe during the pandemic. Desks must now be six feet apart for safety. And that is not enough since barriers must be present to ensure that no droplet transmission occurs. These safeguards are usually made out of Plexiglas to protect the user entirely. Corridors are now one way to ensure that people limit their physical contact, and workers are mindful of the importance of maintaining social distance.

Using New Types of Furniture for Efficiency and Safety

photo-1594732832278-abd644401426.jEven though vaccines continue to roll out and people find it safe to work again, the pandemic has undoubtedly affected the way companies approach their workspaces. This phenomenon goes beyond the use of online platforms like Zoom. Although these tools will continue going forward, the office's comeback means that companies have also adjusted to the demands of the crisis. One way they do this is to change the furniture in their spaces.

One of the most innovative creations that emerged in the pandemic is the desk pod. This type of furniture is not exactly new. It has been around in various iterations in the past but did not receive traction until people realized the protection they can give to someone working in the office. What makes desk pods unique is that they do not just protect a single person, but they can accommodate up to four people.

Described as a mixture of a conventional desk and a booth, the pod caters to people in meetings. The barriers are present to ensure that people remain at an appropriate distance, limiting the risks of any pathogens transferring from person to person. It is also ideal because of the privacy it offers, which is the right amount needed to remain updated in conversations while also being secure. For people who want to work with their peers in small groups, these desk pods are a natural choice.

Maintaining Distance Between Desks

As stated above, complaints about the previously "normal" office layouts often involved the lack of spaces between desks. Files would get flown towards neighbouring workspaces, and people would bump into each other whenever they needed to walk around the floor. Not only will this be a hazard in today's world, but it also affects productivity. As people return to their offices, it is appropriate and logical for employers to place desks at healthy distances.

Besides desks, some companies are taking it to the next level. Food-based companies are implementing al fresco or outdoor dining. Offices are no different, with some implementing an outdoor setup. This is something that's being practised up and down the UK and actually being enjoyed by many. These are less common than the desk distancing approach but are still being used by some employers. They make use of alternating cubicles in open spaces that limit the employees' physical interactions.

photo-1524758870432-af57e54afa26Offices are home to meetings. These are always the ideal venues for teams to brainstorm as they plan out their next move for the company. Conversations can be so productive that they turn into interactions and banter with physical gestures. Although these may be unavoidable due to human nature, the reality is that people must know how to limit their social contact. That is why companies have also begun to restrict the spaces in meeting rooms.

The Use of New Technology

Video conferencing platforms are not exactly new technology. However, institutions repurposed them during the pandemic as a way for people not just to connect but to learn and continue living their lives. Likewise, offices are making use of previous technologies to revolutionize the way they operate. For example, sensors were used in the past to avoid burglaries and theft. Now, occupancy sensors help track the number of people in a room and can warn people about social distancing.

Employers may even place productivity trackers into desk pods or distanced cubicles. These will track a person's output and learn more about how their employees operate in a post-pandemic setup. That way, the office layout continues to innovate itself beyond its current means. There are plenty of professionals that can advise on what the best options are. If you are based in London or even Scotland, you should be able to find office furniture in Edinburgh. After all, office furniture will not be stagnant.

As more employers realize the lapses of the workplace norms in previous years, they will continue to make more adjustments in terms of operation. The layout of an office is something that people have overlooked for years, perhaps due to the demands of other tasks such as deliverables and managerial duties.

With the pandemic reminding everyone of the importance of health and safety in the workplace, more companies will pay attention to the demands of such crises.

In an office layout, hazard prevention must be present. While routine checks to infrastructure are standard practices, people have taken the health aspect for granted in the previous years. Now, people are taking steps to ensure adequate social distancing, secure protection, and overall regard for their health as they return to the physical setup.

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Published on: 27th May 2021

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