Post Covid Offices, Design & Fit Out
What does the future hold in terms of design, space planning & opportunities?
An increasingly large number of people are concerned about what the office market and office design will look like post COVID-19. Only being a few weeks into the North American shutdown, we are observing several trends. As things change daily, the items below might also change as we come out the other side. Below are a few of our initial thoughts and observations:
- An Opportunity to Revaluate & Reflect: The way we work has radically changed, the pandemic has precipitated a revolution in WFH and the way we communicate with clients & colleagues. Post Covid there will be a chance to revaluate how we do business in the future
- Office Space Planning: Density of offices will look differently. Expect companies to give employees more room, such as larger workstations with higher partitions. We’ll also see a trend to more private offices (albeit smaller) and the ability to create space between people.
- Before: open-plan layout
- Total space: 371 sqm & 64 seats
- After: open-plan layout
- Total space: 371 sqm & 34 seats
- New Materials: Expect to see new materials in the design & fit out of offices and workplaces. More construction materials & furniture to have antimicrobial properties. The industry will adopt materials and practices from the Health Care Industry with greater use of screens and wipeable paints, wall cladding, desk finishes and fabrics
- Economics & Property Market: It is likely that companies will not be willing to invest in high value capital projects at least until the impact of the virus on the wider economy is known. Companies are likely to retain partial working from home policy and may want to exit premium cost space for smaller more economical offices. Flexible workspace operators like Biz Spaces & Regus will benefit with ‘out of town’ locations, easy/free parking, and flexible lower cost models with flexible lease terms. The current pandemic will probably provide more work for legal teams negotiating shorter leases with rights to terminate and rolling year on year terms to allow companies to give back space and to be able to contract and expand as required.
- Work from Home: It is a given that Covid 19 has proved that some staff can effectively WFH, Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Hangout / Team & numerous other platforms have been adopted universally. Companies will evaluate productivity and will allow more staff the choice of whether they go into the office or WFH which will inevitably lead to smaller office footprints. It is not for everyone or indeed for every industry, the increase in people accessing mental health services during the pandemic I think illustrates that WFH is not for all. In our industry with tight deadlines, numerous operatives on site and the constant flow and flux of multiple orders, tasks I believe nothing works like the ‘team’ being together in the office
- Productivity: There will be innovative ways to measure productivity and software will be developed to understand and read the metrics produced. Research & analysis post Covid will no doubt prove useful to companies when deciding which groups or individuals can effectively WFH with visits for crucial meetings and or social engagements/conferences with staff rotas introduced to allow for the flexible use of the floorplate. Companies will provide better IT, hardware and Tec with contributions to Home Office desks & equipment. For the fortunate bespoke fitted home office furniture which makes the best use of space and can be ‘folded’ away when not in use and to incorporate storage, desks and integrated flat screens & microphones
- Business Continuity: Many businesses were not prepared for this outbreak and indeed insurance companies have incredibly complex terms that may have meant that insurance policies have not covered losses. We think that this outbreak and its aftermath will make companies think about systems, recovery, external workers, and insurance policies that cover future pandemics. It will also for larger organisations form part of their stress testing and shape strategy for post-pandemic recovery planning.
- Cleaning: There may be a new cleaning certification scheme that Landlords & employers will have to meet and could be offered as a competitive advantage to secure new occupiers. If we see an increase in hoteling, what will the cleaning regime be for a desk that is occupied by one person in the morning and another in the afternoon?
- Buildings & Facilities: Landlords may install infrared scanners to measure people’s temperatures in buildings. With innovative infa-red sensors instead of taps and W.C. flushes in washroom facilities. There will be a greater emphasis on cycling and provision of secure storage and shower facilities as public transport is unlikely to be people’s 1st choice until l the outbreak is over. Also, the air handling system of buildings will be re-designed and updated to enable air recirculation / Losney units to be turned to use fresh air only when required. There will also be a design change to enable the old-fashioned notion of operable windows to increase natural ventilation in lieu of the sealed glazed boxes with mechanical ventilation that has been the architectural
We all expect the coronavirus pandemic will cause major shifts in how we experience the office. So, when this crisis ends, we may well discover there have been fundamental changes in the way we work and in workplace design. The workplace is still relevant and will matter as much as the period before Covid 19. Building a community, reinforcing our organisations shared values, our workplace culture and strengthening relationships with colleagues will again be the best way to rebuild our businesses
Please see below our hopefully useful guide & checklist for returning to the office
We at Select Interiors Manchester Makers & Creators of unique interiors at competitive prices. We design and create environments that not only make the most efficient use of space but that incorporate a sense of fun and unique, bespoke elements to every scheme<
Talk to the experts about how we can improve your office, restaurant, cafe or retail space, call the Select Interiors design team on 0161 445 4040.