Business & Finance Covid-19 Opinion

Trendspotting: What’s the post COVID-19 office like?

As the world stumbles out of COVID-19 lockdowns, offices and officegoers are preparing to return to transformed workplaces.

The global medical crisis since the beginning of 2020 could well be our generation’s closest brush with a lived apocalypse. The last time humanity registered such vast losses to a pandemic was more than a century ago. But we are at a stage where life after lockdown is no longer in our imagination, it’s already in design to meet the needs of a world that prepares to live and work while still in the clutches of the pandemic.

The post-pandemic office is coming

Workplaces are reimagining the way people, processes and physical spaces will meet obligations of safety and demands of innovation. Let’s take a look at the trending material changes being planned by workplaces.  

Breathe fresh

Good ventilation is suggested as a way of preventing the spread of COVID-19, which is likely to mean that offices will work with open windows or choose to implement major and expensive re-engineering of air conditioning systems to avoid the risk of communal transmission. Large offices with high footfalls could make significant investments in air filters and climate control systems to circulate fresh air indoors more frequently than before and maintain higher temperatures inside to prevent the cold conditions that the virus is known to thrive in.      

Get sprayed with hygiene

Sanitation tunnels and mist sprays are likely to be installed at building and office entrances, much like metal detectors became a security norm not too long ago. Hand sanitiser dispensers and handheld infrared thermometers are widely used, with many workplaces having installed them even even as the pandemic had just started rooting in their home country. These personal hygiene solutions are among the simplest and cheapest solutions that offices are expected to adopt towards making them more hygienic.

Keep your distance

Six feet office, Cushman & Wakefield
Image: Cushman & Wakefield

Global commercial real estate giant, Cushman & Wakefield, have introduced what they call, the six-feet office. It’s a way of re-designing offices to comply with the six-feet social distancing rule that the company believes is not going away anytime soon. The company has redesigned its Amsterdam centre as a six-feet office, and is helping others do the same. The move comes in the backdrop of architects and civil design experts expressing strongly that the pandemic will radically reshape offices of the future in terms of layout, fixed assets and common spaces.

Less people, more space

Open plan layouts are not on the endangered list right now, simply because not all offices have the space, budget and reasons to move to closed plan workplaces. What’s on the cards, though, is a definitive move to operate offices with as few people as possible, and for those few people to work out of reasonably protected spaces.

No contact, please

Contactless technologies for workplaces are getting a fresh lease of life. Across the spectrum of private, government, large and small corporations, contactless technology is being fast-tracked into workplaces. A fine example of is the contactless suite of solutions that Zaha Hadid Architects designed for the new headquarters of a waste management company in Sharjah, UAE.

Image: MIR via Zaha Hadid Architects

It’s an office based on the premise of ‘contactless pathways’, including doors that open automatically using facial recognition and motion sensors, elevators than can be operated through a smartphone and even coffee can be ordered via the mobile.

Stay with our exhaustive COVID-19 coverage; from inventions to returning trends, to bizzare do’s and don’ts and dramatic environmental changes, and more.

By Romeo Coutinho

Rationalist, truth seeker, full time writer, part time dreamer.

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