According to research conducted at the Census Bureau, 44.1% of employees earning between $75,000-$99,999 annually switched to telework because of the coronavirus pandemic, while 67.5% of the people earning between $150,000-$199,000/year did the same thing. For those earning anywhere between $50,000-$74,999/year, the percentage of telework employees increased by 32.1%. As you can see, more than a third of the United States population switched to online working this year. Telework has become the new routine, so how will going back to the office look like?
For most employees, going back to the office comes with many changes. Since this pandemic changed many variables, the office buildings will keep up with the “trend” and change accordingly. Convincing people to return to the office can only be done by challenging office buildings – the new offices must be redesigned to bring a level of comfort to each and every one of a company’s employees. That being said, let’s check how the post-pandemic office reality looks like.
Many changes will take place throughout the next months. However, these are some of the short-term things that companies could think of for now.
How will employees gather together in one room and discuss important work-related issues? Will they agree? According to office building-developer Ben Tranel, companies will rethink meeting spaces. Employees won’t feel comfortable meeting in small rooms anymore, so wider conference rooms will be necessary. In the meantime, some of the employees might agree to attend meetings in person while others will prefer to join meetings from home.
New cleaning protocols
Without a clean workplace, people won’t return to work. Today, hand sanitizers and handwashing have become a widely discussed topic. Offices will want to make employees feel safe, so new cleaning protocols will be put in place. For example, desks will be wiped down with disinfected wipes every 30 minutes and every room will contain at least 2-3 hand sanitizer recipients. Conference rooms will be cleaned thoroughly after every meeting and reception desks will be sanitized correspondingly. Social spaces will also be cleaned several times throughout the day.
Indoor air quality
One of the most common ways of resolving the air quality issue is installing UV lights to any air handler within the building. This will improve the air quality and destroy any type of bacteria that might be circulating in the air. Purified air is a short-term solution of the present and could definitely be improved. With technology developing at such a fast pace, future solutions will be quickly found.
Better safety measures – displayed
Making employees feel safe is another important method of getting them back to work. This is why new safety measures should be displayed inside every building. The health-related information should be communicated via text or video in elevators or corridors. By being constantly exposed to the reassuring information, people will know that they’re safe within the workplace.
The new office moves past the point of ‘trial’ to the point of implementation. This is when further changes will be promoted. The average expectation for such projects should be anywhere between one and three years.
New air-filtration systems
As I mentioned before, the air we breathe is extremely important when we’re talking about a pandemic. Looking at new ways to design the air-filtration systems within an office building is the next logical step. Technology allows us to bring more fresh air into the office by using operable windows. This new concept will be adopted by many companies.
Bigger outdoor spaces
Companies will also redesign the workplace to include more outdoor spaces. One option could be designing rooftops to offer employees wider spaces to disconnect or socialize. Another option could be redesigning terraces and expanding them to ensure that workers have enough space to social distance. These areas provide people with increased access to fresh air, which might determine employees to return to work.
Bringing more plants into the office will help increase positivity within the office. Plants create a safe space for employees and enhance creativity and imagination. Bringing plants indoors and thus, implementing a biophilic design can be of incredible help. Research has shown that such designs can decrease stress levels and fasten illness recovery.
Rethinking floor plans
Another important aspect of the updated, post-pandemic building will be floor plans. While most offices have an open floor plan today, this concept will change. Building forms will be altered since most companies will strive to de-densify offices and reduce employee interaction.
Companies will always find great solutions for their employees. The most important thing is that people should return to the office. We are social beings and we’re in high need of communication. This can only be done in an in-person environment, where safety and security are well-maintained.
Eliza Sadler is a professional journalist with extensive experience, 4 years. She also works as a freelancer for a professional writer service. She always focused on doing quality work to achieve her goals and objectives. Eliza is fascinated by the ability to create original works that meet high standards. Feel free to connect with her on email.
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