Collaborative and Social Space Design After COVID
Occurrences such as pandemics challenge everything from established social norms to how we do work. The novel coronavirus has forced many to adapt to the new normal. Businesses and schools across the globe were forced to cope with the challenge of no socialisation. Communication and meetings were just limited to just our devices.
As the number of Covid-19 cases decreased, office designers were prompted to think about the nature of work, how it is done, and where it is done. This, as the majority of the workforce, were returning to their work environments.
Yes, some organisations have completely gone remote. Organisations will continue being drawn to spaces that bring them together, inspire the team, and support collaboration.
Now shared workspace designs should also support social distancing requirements and sanitising protocols required to make the work environment safe. These productivity-enhancing spaces need to be adapted to ensure that the employees using them feel secure.
Office Layout Planning
How do you create collaborative workspaces post-Covid?
The easing of lockdown restrictions does not mean that all the regulations imposed during the COVID-19 should be set aside. Companies still need to observe these practices governing social distancing, gatherings, and sanitising regimes. Collaborative workspaces are still possible even after the lockdown, through the reconfiguring of office spaces.
As the Covid-19 has already impacted the workplace across multiple industries. Its effect has further carried through in the physical workplace, especially in collaborative offices.
Shared workspace designs are the most difficult to address as these office layout plans are designed to inspire employees to gather.
Even though remote working is indeed possible and, in our hyperconnected world, very useful, some people might feel isolated and distracted. Businesses still need office spaces, as many do not have the required equipment and policy to make remote working a possibility. Notwithstanding the growing adoption of remote working, not all roles can function remotely. Some of the workforces still need to go back to the office.
Post-covid shared workspaces can overcome the challenges that came with the pandemic through the follow design principles; compactness, structure, and division.
Many offices are already implementing limitations on the number of people allowed in space. The number of people per square meter. Set a number of how many people are allowed in space at a given time. To reduce the office’s density, you might need to consider removing several desks and seating areas. An alternative can be signs that inform employees how many people are allowed in a sitting area at a given time.
Reorganise your office furniture. Turn desks at an angle to prevent employees from facing each other. Use moveable furniture pieces such as whiteboards and screens to create boundaries.
Division or social distancing is one of the most encouraging ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Use moveable screens or barriers to create separation in the workplace. Use storage cabinets or plants to add space division. The separation can be done in a way that continues to ensure collaborative workplaces maintain their performance and energy benefits.
How can employees be protected in shared office spaces during a lockdown?
Use Sneeze Screens
Employers can ensure safety in the workplace with sneeze screen guards. They play an enormous role in combating the outbreak and ensuring the safety of their employees. AngelShack has developed perspex screens to assist in creating work distancing and safety in the office. Their range includes five different screens – and will help workers feel more secure.
Choose furniture that is easy to clean.
Employees need to take on extra cleaning responsibilities. They need to disinfect their workspaces constantly. Cleaning programs need to be implemented in washrooms and kitchens.
It is essential to choose desks that can take constant sanitising and cleaning. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and wiping frequently touched surfaces constantly to avoid the risk of spreading infections.
The physical plan
The 2-meter separation requirement between employees means that shared spaces need to be arranged to maintain social distancing. It is also recommended that employees sit back to back or side to side instead of facing each other. A separated physical plan aids in limiting the opportunity of coming in contact with infected people when at work. Anyone can get and spread COVID-19.
Embrace Collaboration tools
Maximise the use of video conferencing. Employees can still collaborate without being near each other. Employees can just attend these meetings while sitting at their desks. Collaboration tools can further create programs that assist employees in being better equipped, even working from home.
Collaborative & Social Space Design says a lot about the company culture. Companies that adopt a collaborative office layout plan are those who are passionate about teamwork. The open-plan office design has great benefits such as flexibility and agility. It brings with it opportunities to move around a space based on activity. Creating collaborative spaces post the lockdown requires businesses to follow design principles; compactness, structure, and division. South Africa’s leading manufacturers of outstanding and award-winning furniture pieces, Angel Shack, have developed a range of furniture that aid in social distancing and employee protection. Click here to find out more about collaborative space design solutions.