The Future Outlook of the Office Setting After COVID-19
The recent pandemic has altered the way people do their jobs and work environments, forcing businesses to reconsider their approach to flexible work lifestyles. This event has prompted enterprises to rethink the future of office workspaces and question whether a traditional office setting is still appropriate in today’s new norm.
Evolution is inevitable in the modern workplace as new generations of workers take up the torch. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a speedy transformation of office interior designs in Singapore due to the widespread adoption of remote work, social distancing, sanitation requirements, and the return to office workplaces.
Any business owner will agree that the ramifications of shutting down due to the pandemic are overwhelming, from losing revenue to potentially downsizing their workforce and the uncertainty of when they can return to business as usual.
As the economy slowly recovers and the return to in-office work movement picks up pace, allow us to present forward-looking office setting ideas to help you rethink your workplace and prepare it for today’s new normal.
1. Hybrid working environments
When the Covid epidemic broke out and a large number of employees switched to work-from-home arrangements, businesses scrambled to change their standard operating procedures and daily operations to ensure that operations could continue to run smoothly with a primarily remote workforce.
With the economy slowly improving, surveys have revealed that many employees prefer a combination of in-office and home-based work. In addition to conducting regular check-ins on work progress, managers are critical in ensuring that no one gets left behind. Employees working in different locations and at different times require safe platforms for two-way communication where all employees can raise issues or provide their perspectives taking into account their individual preferences.
There is no single hybrid work arrangement that suits all organisations. Before hybrid work options can be established, organisations must first establish their purpose, evaluate their needs, and identify an appropriate structure. Before rolling out the model to the entire company, test it with a small group of employees and make improvements along the way.
2. New layouts that prioritise physical distancing
Many offices struggle to adhere to the six-foot distance rule between workstations. Even if that requirement is no longer enforced, having ‘breathing room’ will allow employees to focus on their work, boosting productivity.
Businesses that used open layouts before the pandemic may continue using larger tables to accommodate multiple employees (typically those with flexible work schedules and who come to the office a few times per week).
Additionally, office workstations in Singapore frequently feature transparent barriers that protect workers while still allowing them to see and interact with one another.
3. Open floor plans remain more relevant than ever before
Despite research showing that the open office floor plan is ineffective at boosting productivity, the trend appears to be heading in the opposite direction.
These floor plans are simpler to clean and restrict the areas employees can touch, thus reducing surface areas to be cleaned. Employees frequently come into contact with chair arms, door handles, and cubicle openings, among other things. Neglecting to reduce the number of these contact areas may render offices at risk of spreading pathogens despite being safe from a social distancing perspective.
Similarly, every office gets ventilated by the same HVAC system more often than not. This is well known to propagate the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and other pathogens. An open floor plan may be better for achieving proper ventilation, as one can quickly improve ventilation by opening the windows. If that is not possible, investing in an office climate control system may be necessary.
4. Heightened focus on furniture and finishes
Future-proofing the office environment is achieved by adaptable furniture, carefully selected finish materials that are antimicrobial and easy to sanitise, and modern appliances with features that limit contact and make offices more efficient.
Kinetic, flexible, and lightweight furniture are easier to relocate, reconfigure, and sanitise to ensure employee safety and greater flexibility when changing floor plans. In addition, microfibre furnishings such as chairs and couches, with their all-around fabrics, are excellent for their functionality and heavy-duty design that can withstand spills and heavy use yet remain easy to clean.
Some finishes are cheaper and easier to clean than other surfaces. Besides microfibre, there are also self-cleaning surfaces that work well in an office setting. These materials can inherently remove bacteria and debris from their surfaces in various ways, such as NanoSeptic. Their skin and mats transform high-traffic touchpoints like door handles and elevator buttons into perpetual self-cleaning surfaces.
5. Smaller conference rooms
In response to the workforce’s collective desire for flexible working arrangements, many business owners will have to adapt to the wishes of their employees and compromise on a schedule they can agree on.
Since employees will spend some days in the office during the week, businesses must ensure they can connect seamlessly and frequently. This means optimising meeting rooms to accommodate a handful of employees that can interact at a safe distance while also communicating with the rest of their team working from home.
6. Explore the unconventional
Thinking outside the box works best in this post-COVID era, with the future of office settings changing. As such, unconventional workspaces with unique floor plans may just be what your business needs to brand itself, encourage employees to think differently and present new and profitable opportunities.
Once your staff acclimates to flexible working and social distancing, they will eventually be more comfortable and feel content with their safe and healthy environment, ultimately promoting higher productivity.
The advent of the pandemic has quickly reshaped the traditional office setting into something that better promotes everyone’s safety and overall health, which in turn leads to greater productivity that will benefit any company.
At Wilsin, we want to help you reshape your workspace to accommodate the new normal and safeguard your workers. With the help of our professional and friendly team of design experts, you can optimise your workplace in the most cost-efficient and innovative way and be ready for the future of office settings.
For enquiries, give us a call at 6292 0123 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.