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From 'officles' to giant sneeze guards: How the pandemic will change your open office

Bottlenecks

Elevators and hallways present a tricky situation for socially distanced offices. Most buildings didn't build very wide aisles, so you can't maintain the required 6 feet.

Designers are looking at circulating people in one direction through a space, rather than two-ways.

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From 'officles' to giant sneeze guards: How the pandemic will change your open office

From 'officles' to giant sneeze guards: How the pandemic will change your open office

https://www.fastcompany.com/90498002/from-officles-to-giant-sneeze-guards-how-covid-19-will-change-your-open-office

fastcompany.com

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Key Ideas

Open offices will get more open

The open office has gotten less open over time because more people were put into it.

A well-designed open plan has only about 30% of people sitting at a desk. The rest are using other parts of the office space, thereby exercising social distancing.

The new welcome space

If you've visited an open office In the past, you've probably been greeted by someone sitting behind a desk. They would point you to a self-serve coffee - all to make visitors feel comfortable.

Going forward will be about perceived safety. The new paradigm may include a mudroom to change your shoes and wash your hands. It may even be a place to run health screenings.

The clear cubicle

A transparent material is used to build clear barriers between people.

We can expect to see clear dividers rise up, creating walls around desks. There are better materials that are more antimicrobial, but clear plastic is in demand because it encourages a perceived sense of safety.

New HVAC systems

Many experts agree that HVAC systems (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) will have to be upgraded. Offices will likely install portable air purifiers as a stop-gap.

In China, buildings have already been designed with more fresh air flow and air filtration.

Repurposed communal spaces

We can expect a lot more desk lunches and outdoor eating.

The cafeteria could be opened up to more people working through the day, allowing everyone to distance more.

Bottlenecks

Elevators and hallways present a tricky situation for socially distanced offices. Most buildings didn't build very wide aisles, so you can't maintain the required 6 feet.

Designers are looking at circulating people in one direction through a space, rather than two-ways.

New office trends

The open office is the design of the day, and their proponents claim they increase collaboration. But in the age of a pandemic, they're the opposite of social distancing.

In anticipation of bringing employees back to work, open offices will have to change.

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Changes you may see

If and when you return to your office after the pandemic, you'll probably notice some changes.

  • The doors of the building may open automatically, so you don't have to touch the handl...
Working from home

Before the pandemic, only 4 percent of the US workforce worked from home at least half the time. However, the trend of working from home had been gaining momentum for years.

It is estimated that within a couple of years, 30% of people will work from home multiple days per week.

Continued remote work
  • Before the pandemic, a lot of company management and leaders were skeptical regarding remote work. But the skepticism will go away because companies recognize that remote work does work.
  • The economic impact of the pandemic will likely force employers to cut costs. They may reduce their rent by letting workers work from home instead of layoffs.
  • Employers had to spend money on new technology and equipment to work from home - a departure from the norm.
  • Employees themselves are also spending more money to create better home offices.

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Stale Office Air

The air you are breathing in enclosed spaces could be impairing your cognitive function.

Bringing more fresh air inside, or having a good ventilation syste...

Poor Lighting

Being close to natural sunlight can make or break an employee’s experience. 

Productivity gains (and losses) are connected to employees’ environmental conditions, so companies that create ideal office environments with abundant natural light and unobstructed outdoors views will reap the dividends.

The Colleagues You Sit With

People’s moods are contagious. When your co-worker is rude, you will start to catch their bad attitude, too.

Sitting within a 25-foot radius of a high performer could positively boost the performance of colleagues by 15 %.

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Natural light

Natural light is the most fundamental element of a welcoming space.

Employees prefer natural light and views of the outdoors to onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and daycare. Natura...

Add in the green

People who work in offices with leafy green plants concentrate better than those who work without greenery. Reconnecting workers with a natural environment results in fewer sick days. 

Adding some plants to the office will give your team both a brain and a mood boost.

Consider your company's needs

How do your teams work best? What are their physical and technological needs?

The seven attributes to consider when determining your optimal workspace: location, enclosure, exposure, technology, temporality, perspective, and size.

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