The return to the office is focus point for many businesses at present, but it’s also a side effect of the coronavirus outbreak that will continue to unfold for months and years to come.
Predictions then, look to understand what the office will not only look like in the short term, but how it will settle, evolve and adapt in the long term.
Two e-papers, which are available to download now from the Vitra website, contain predictions, practical applications and case studies relating to the coronavirus outbreak and workplaces’ responses to the pandemic. A thoughtful read, topics covered include the likes of the future of openplan office design, working from home and adapting spaces to social distancing.
“Going to work while sick will be considered unacceptable,” the first e-paper The Road Back to the Office reads. “Sick days may increase. If not sick enough for a sick day, then employees will work remotely or – at least – wear a mask.” While the idea of presenteeism – feeling obliged to attend a physical workplace even when sick – has been shown to be disruptive to offices in the past, in a post-COVID-19 landscape, there’s a consensus that employees will take employee health more seriously.
Capacity for meeting rooms will be reduced to increase distance between those using the space. Rooms that are too small for this purpose can be re-purposed into smaller activity rooms, such as for making phone calls or for focus work.
Balancing the requirements for more space against the cost of expanding an office’s footprint, office-based shift work could be a requirement going forward, but where equipment is shared, employers will have to do more to assuage employees that the space is safe to use. “Each employee has a personally assigned chair that is safely parked in a reserved space during the times they are away. A chair is only reassigned after deep cleaning,” reads the second e-paper, A Safe Landing in a New Office Reality. IT equipment would never be shared, and where teams are more comofrtable sharing between themselves than with strangers, we could also see an increase in bathrooms, meeting rooms and other spaces being clearly designated to teams within the company.