Let’s face it. Covid-19 has pretty much changed every aspect of our lives. We stop and think twice about a lot of the things that once came naturally to us, like shopping in a store, eating at a restaurant, and – yes – going to the office. We worry about being indoors for too long and sitting too close to our co-workers. We’re not sure whether to eat lunch at our desk or in the common area. We are concerned that if someone at work is sick, we’ll bring it home to our children.
While the pandemic isn’t as frightening as it was a year ago thanks to vaccinations as well as a better overall knowledge or how the virus works, returning to work is still scary for many. That’s why so many companies are taking the time to think about the changes that can be made that could help ease the minds of their employees.
Indeed, we’ll see plenty of changes in office layouts now that Covid is slowing and, hopefully, dissipating. And while some may view these changes as temporary, companies may actually find that they like these new concepts and keep them around for a while. We’ll also see businesses trying to copy the comfortable vibe employees had when working from home, adding more options that allow employees to feel relaxed while on the job.
Here’s what’s happening in many of today’s offices.
- A move from open floor plans – Prior to the pandemic, it was all about collaborative workspaces. Now, employees who are worried about exposure to sick co-workers are looking for private spaces instead of the “boiler room”-type layout where everyone is in one large space. As such, companies are making use of items such as glass partitions, which provide privacy but still make the office look friendly and collaborative.
- More space per employee – Similarly, it’s likely that most companies will start providing more space for each individual employee, simply to keep physical distancing a priority. Offices that once held 100 desks may now only accommodate 40 or 50. That means equipment like portable walls and dividers will come in handy as offices change size again and again. By not putting up permanent walls, companies can easily make new revisions once the dangers from Covid-19 exposure have lessened.
- Larger open spaces with less seating – The size of a conference room or meeting room will likely increase, though businesses may remove some of the seating from those areas to avoid crowding. While co-workers will no doubt still need to meet together at times, the need to do so safely will demand a larger space that can be kept from getting crowded. In addition, these spaces will need room for technology to accommodate those who are still tele-commuting, so there needs to be ample tables, desks, screens, and more video-conferencing purposes.
- Increased use of outdoor space – If you’re in a climate that can accommodate outdoor working spaces, at least part of the year, you might see your company move in that direction. People have gotten used to eating outside, meeting others outside, and spending very little time indoors with strangers. Having outside space may be a good way to entice people back to the office. Use easy-to-move desks and portable partitions to make this work and don’t forget that you can use spaces such as balconies and rooftops, too.
- Flexibility is the key – Most of all, companies are learning that they have to be flexible with their office layouts. The need for wider or one-way hallways, for example, may result in the loss of floor space that once held desks or other equipment. Having the ability – and flexibility – to create many different kinds of working arrangements in the same space is almost essential, experts note. You just have to be willing to go with the flow, so to speak.
At Total Vision Interiors, flexibility is what we’re all about. Modular, glass, and architectural walls are our specialty, and we can help you arrange a post-Covid office that fits your space as well as the needs and desires of your workforce. Furthermore, the options we offer are both attractive and effective, so you won’t be trading efficiency or design for flexibility. You can have it all!