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Office Design for Post-Pandemic

October 2020
The office space as we know it will never be the same again. Human interaction is so important though, so how do we create a safe yet inviting and productive space for workers?

Office terrace space

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Most workers will not spend five days a week in the office once the Covid crisis is over. Our long-term pattern of working has changed, we will spend as much time working remotely as we do in the office.

According to a survey of 2000 workers by the British Council for Offices, 62 % of executives and 58% of entry level workers said they intended to alternate between the home and the office.

Working from home has its plus points but it also means no socialising, leading to feelings of isolation. According to a global survey of 30,000 people by Kantar Health the proportion of people suffering with depression has risen by 11%.

So what will office space of the future look like? Before the pandemic, the brief for office designs was often to fit as many desks in as possible in open plan areas.

However this has changed. What we are likely to see is communal places where people can come to collaborate rather than commuting to sit at a desk. Many offices will be smaller than we have seen in the past as large companies invest in office hubs outside the commuter belt, where their employees live.

The office space will be more fluid, with flexible seating and table systems that are suitably distanced. Areas will be designed in such a way that workers and clients won’t have to think about safe distancing, it will already have been done for them.

Also, any areas of an office building that could become congested such as entrances will need to be reconsidered to channel and disperse traffic. Upholstery fabrics will be selected for their resistance to harbouring the virus. Copper and untreated wood will become increasingly popular as they are thought to shorten the life of the virus. Any high-touch places will need non-touch or wave technology in place to keep employees safe.

A key strategy for promoting health in office buildings is to provide opportunities for employees to come in contact with the natural world. Offices with a roof terrace or outside space will become highly prized. If there is no outside area, biophilic design can boost productivity and physical health.  Installing living walls instead of bland partitions and incorporating circadian-friendly lighting that brightens and dims across the workday.

What is apparent is the day of rows of desks has gone. They need to be carefully turned into controlled spaces where people feel safe.There will be much work to do before we can return to the office space in the long-term.

If you would like to talk to us about design possibilities, please do get in touch.

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