How Office Space Designs are Adapting to COVID-19

The pandemic is affecting businesses in many ways–  some have been drastic and devastating though some were fortunate to experience positive changes. 

Most had to adapt to the losses and move past the adversity but with the sudden shift, it has led to a greater focus on people and wellness in the workplace. The necessity to create and develop a clear-cut plan to create places that foster health and well-being have been paramount, paving the way to restructure the “anti office” wave of workplace design

The “Anti-Office” Wave

From private offices and cubicles, workplace designs have shifted to a more open and social environment. The Anti Office design aims to conceive an articulate but sensitive spatial experience different from the function centered office design. 

Anti Office design is created to foster more collaboration and creation while rejecting rigidness. It has informal spaces that accommodate multiple activities that promote fluidity and function. 

When this Anti Office was rising, the pandemic happened. Now, it is a challenge to restructure this open design to a more secure and safe space. 

As many people adjusted to working remotely, returning to offices is seen as a hassle, a hurdle. Going back to private pods, cubicles, and private spaces may help, but people will crave more. In the long run, they will seek interaction, socialization, and collaboration as they did with open spaces. Seen as a challenge, businesses are now entering a new stage in office design, which is more focused on wellness, safety, and flexibility, entering the “Anti-Office” restructured stage. 

“Anti-Office” Restructured

As the offices re-open, we can now see a change in the behavior of people in terms of going to work. A large number of people are unwilling to commute as adjustments are difficult, and the threat of the pandemic still lingers. Looking at time and cleanliness, workers realize that they are more productive and safer working from home. Public transportation is a risk they would rather skip, to focus on their safety and health. Not only that, but hesitation in working with someone is also an issue. People might have some problems working with someone as they don’t trust their coworkers’ willingness to be as hygienic as they want them to be. 

With these issues, businesses need to create a reason for people to come back to the office. They need to find a way to restructure the environment to ensure its employees that they will work in a safe and sanitized place. With these, they decided to follow the “Anti-Office” format, but with added features and amenities. These additions will focus on the overall wellness approach that will encourage people to be confident to come back to the workplace. 

The first step to achieve this is to have an operational shift.

People are more aware and more conscious of their health and wellbeing. Reflecting this on their workplaces would help people feel safe and confident to come back to their offices. With this, businesses are now required to build workplace environments that would reflect the same health standards that people expect them to have. 

Workplaces should be configured with a focus on safety and hygiene. 

Wellness will implement throughout the workplace to promote a healthy environment for professionals, employees, clients, and the surrounding community. 

Exercising Wellness

It is now more of a need rather than a trend to invest in no-touch technology. These include automated systems as doors, faucets, and alcohol dispensers. 

Having these systems will eliminate touching the surfaces and further spread of the virus. With these around the building will make people feel more comfortable and confident to enter the offices as they would not need to touch the surfaces that are possibly uncleaned or unsanitized.  

Rise of the use of antimicrobial surfaces and the integration of materials that give warmth and inviting feel. These would include a strategic selection of color palettes and the use of silver as woods and natural stones have been shown to aid microbial growth. 

Aside from these new systems, cleaning has also improved from decluttering and removing visible stains to sanitizing and deep cleaning. Cleaning nowadays is focused more on the underlying dirt and sanitation to keep the virus at bay.

Decrease in Occupancy

The most significant change in the workplace will possibly be the number of people who come and go. For the past few months, people have been adjusting to working at home and have shown positive results. You must take note that people are still not as comfortable to go out of their houses and return to the office as they used to before.   

It was predicted that there would be a decrease of about fifty percent in workplace occupancy. To adapt to this, office design must have touchdown spaces. Offices must have areas that are like private rooms but is big enough to accommodate two people. These areas are not like personal desks. They are like free spaces to work on when employees see the need to come to the office and work. Private desks will be eliminated and would the office would resemble a furniture showroom. This reconfiguration will allow ease of cleaning and easy adaptability for the employees. 

What is the Point of Having an Office?

Why are we still talking about having an office when people are productive, content, and happy working from home? 

It is about balance and option. 

A lot of people still want to collaborate in person. We are humans and require social interaction. It is proven that social interaction is critical for personal and mental health. 

Having an office during this pandemic time is not about rushing people to go back to the office but to have a space to collaborate in person. Giving people a choice to work from home and in the office would provide balance and a way out whenever they feel too cramped and unproductive at home.

This pandemic has brought us to a lot of changes, personal or business-related. Looking at how people are more aware of the risks of going out, businesses are forced to think of a plan to bring out a design that will encourage confidence for its employees to go to work. 

Thinking of the need for humans for social interaction while being safe and healthy, a reconfigured open office design is presented. 

No matter how they do it, a person’s wellness should be regarded.