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When we can finally heave a sigh of relief that we’ve reached the ‘Post-Covid’ era, the working environment will likely have changed forever.
While changes will be welcomed by most people, others may feel overwhelmed with the transformation of their working environment. That’s why it will be essential to communicate the benefits of each change and prioritize the wellbeing of every individual.
Here are some traditional office features which can be re-imagined for greater working efficiency, employee safety, and even, in some cases, reduction of overheads.
1. Optimize use of space
To keep work organized and maintain the privacy of documents when required, you may have to invest in additional cabinets, or, more likely, relocate existing ones.
2. Optimize hot-desking
Take things a step further and introduce hot-desking. The team simply gets to sit at any available desk and log on. Each person is allocated a locker to store their personal items and any documents, securely. One people get used to the idea, and sit next to different colleagues each day, hot-desking has many positive effects, especially in encouraging open communication and knowledge-sharing. Not only that, there’s a great incentive to come in early and grab the ‘best’ seat.
Of course, hot-desking will not dispense with the need to maintain safety and ensure people are only expected to work at a safe distance from each other. Transparent screens around desks, already ubiquitous in many offices, especially those where contact with the public is required, will become essential in every communal working environment.
3. Make ‘paperless’ a reality
Businesses have aspired to become paperless for decades, often without noticeable success.
However, today’s online sharing and collaboration tools reduce the need for printing endless drafts and different versions of each document.
Why is there an even greater focus on reducing paper in the new environment? As more people work remotely, the option of sharing hard copies simply isn’t practical.
And while we’re able to sanitize our hands and most objects we come into contact with, it’s just not practical each time we have to handle a piece of paper.
4. Sell surplus equipment
As you re-imagine your offices to accommodate fewer people at any one time, you’ll likely find that you have far more furniture and equipment than you need. You’ll have a great opportunity to release cash from your investment. Keep in mind that computers and other IT equipment depreciate rapidly, and can quickly become obsolete, so don’t delay in getting rid of them. Sell or auction it locally or on one of the international online marketplaces.
Just ensure that when it’s time to ship the items that you employ a specialist company who’ll use custom packaging to get the goods wherever they need to go, safely and without any hassle due to damage while shipping or disputes over responsibility.
5. Focus on hygiene and air-quality
Among the most widely predicted changes to the offices of the near future, is that they’ll be adapted to provide a far greater level of hygiene and infection control. Expect sinks and hand-washing stations to be installed in easy to access public areas, rather than being confined to the bathroom or pantries.
People will also become far more sensitive to the need for good air-quality and circulation systems. In older premises, these may also need improvement to maintain a safe working environment, and avoid the spread of bacteria or viruses.
Organizations with the financial resources will be investing in thermal body scanners, for employees and visitors, which will indicate when a person’s body temperature is raised.
Overall, reporting to work when you’re feeling sick will become increasingly unacceptable. With the increase in home-based working, voluntary self-isolation from the workplace will become the rational course of action for the sick employee. No more struggling to come to the office and spreading the virus to everyone who has the misfortune to come into contact with you.
6. Contactless offices
Even with frequent cleaning, door handles, light switches, toilet flushes, and bathroom taps harbor germs and can be responsible for the spread of infection. These can easily be replaced with fittings that operate with a wave of the hand or are voice-activated.
A keyboard and mouse are two of the dirtiest items in the office – even in normal times. If you’re hot-desking post-Covid this can be even more concerning. While you could rely on everyone disinfecting their hands before use, it’s probably a safety concern you don’t need. Issue each employee with their own laptop, or when this isn’t practical, their own keyboard. While not 100% risk-free, it will certainly provide more reassurance than equipment in communal use.
To summarize, offices with fewer employees at any one-time, stringent safety and hygiene measures in place, physical barriers remaining as a standard feature – these are just a few of the ways we’ll adapt our workplaces in the future. The key to making the changes successfully is to ensure everyone is fully aware of the benefits and ready to play their part.
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