How will COVID-19 affect office space? It’s an issue that has cropped up a lot recently as people think about how they can return to the office safely and effectively. If you’re thinking about building a new office, you need to keep the coronavirus and its impact in mind when you design your office architecture.
Now is the time to plan for the post-pandemic office. You’ll need to rethink space and access. You need to keep your employees’ health and safety at the top of your mind.
There are six crucial aspects that you need to incorporate into the design. We’ve pulled them together here. So, read on to make sure your new office architecture is prepped for the new normal.
When thinking about the office architecture of your new office building, the biggest consideration in a post-COVID-19 world is how much space will you need. How many of your employees will actually work in your new office? How many will work remotely?
This means you will almost certainly need less square footage than you would previously have needed. However, because you will need more space for each employee in the building the amount won’t reduce as much as you think.
Space in the Office
Each employee is going to need a larger area to work in so that they can remain safe. Rather than wide-open spaces with lots of employees, you’re going to want to design an office that has designated work areas for each employee. They need to have at least 6 feet of space around them in their work zone.
Shared spaces will be minimized. Meeting rooms will need to be large enough to house the number of people you will need without them coming into close contact with each other.
Consider how you will hold meetings. How many people will you need to be in the same room at the same time? How many can join the meeting from elsewhere?
It might work better to have multiple smaller meeting rooms. Then connect those rooms through video conferencing.
Because so much more of your office work will involve video conferencing, you are going to need to invest in the best possible internet and technology structure you can. The highest-speed internet possible will be crucial. High-quality screens, microphones, and speakers should be top of your priority list.
Invest in technology as an integrated component of your office architecture. This will help you create a seamless office between those in the building and those working remotely.
Safe Walking Zones
Allowing people to navigate your new office in as safe a way as possible should be part of your planning and design. Your new office architecture needs to incorporate pathways that allow workers in the office building to safely move around it without having to pass too many other people.
One way to do this is to create a one-way system within the office. If you have multiple floors, design the building so that one stairway is up and one is down.
Within the individual floors, create the pathways between rooms and offices so that there is a one-way flow to them, as well. The idea is to allow people to move safely and efficiently from one space to another. You want to minimize unnecessary contact between people.
Health and Safety
Everything you do when designing your new office should be done with health and safety in mind.
If your office is in a part of the country where you can have the windows open without your employees becoming too hot or cold then design it with windows that open. If you cannot do this safely, add a high-quality filtration system into the A/C system so that air isn’t recycled throughout the office.
Each individual office space should have barriers between occupants or between other offices or rooms. Design these barriers so that light and air can still move around. Create them so that people don’t feel trapped but they do feel safe from their coworkers.
Glass doors and walls allow light to pass through but will still protect people. If you have cubicles, make sure the barriers are high enough so that people aren’t sitting close to each other with just a low wall between them. Again, clear barriers above the desk line will help here.
Make sure your office architecture includes multiple hand-sanitization stations. These should be located outside meeting rooms or shared spaces. They should be at the entries and exits on all floors or to the building.
Some types of work need even more attention paid to safety in design. A dentist’s office, for example, will have even higher safety standards required. So, dentist office architecture should have the health and safety of workers and patients at the very forefront of the design.
The purpose of focusing on health and safety in designing your new office architecture is to make your employees feel as safe as they possibly can when they return to working in an office.
If you haven’t already picked out your location for your new office, it’s a good time to think about how accessible it is. People are walking more as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Locate your new office in an area that is easy to walk to for as many of your employees as possible.
Another idea is to locate it somewhere where employees can get outside and walk during their breaks. People are more conscious of the need for fresh air. If you have control over the grounds, include a park or green space or walking areas.
Office Architecture in a COVID-19 World
As you can see, designing office architecture with the pandemic in mind needs you to rethink the traditional priorities of office space and culture. Spend time considering what your employees will need. Think about how to make them feel as safe as possible in their new office space.
You probably won’t need as much overall footprint but each team member in the building will need more space. Shared, wide-open offices probably won’t work as well anymore.
Focus on technology, access, and a sanitary workspace. Your employees will feel better about coming into the office and will be able to get their work done with remote colleagues and stakeholders more effectively. We like to share the best things when it comes to business, lifestyle, and more. So, visit our blog to find out what you need to be in the know about. We’ve got you covered for tech, software, travel, health, and much more.