Unfortunately, the recent pandemic has left us in an unprecedented situation. Though businesses are gradually returning to normal, employees continue to feel a sense of insecurity as potentially new waves can hit us anytime. Those who have been working from home or on rotational basis for a long time find it challenging to resume on-site working.
After all the repercussions of the virus, one thing is clear that companies need to revamp their workspaces for employee safety.
In this guide, let us understand these options in detail and see what additional steps we can take for employees to feel safe:
Transformation or Relocation of Office Spaces
In the current scenario, most employees are hesitant about working in close proximity with their peers. This is a primary challenge for business owners who have corporate spaces with people packed together.
To ensure employees feel safe in their working environment, many companies are considering ways to make their workplaces pandemic proof or at least pandemic resistant.
One of the best ways to do this is to opt for a new office fit-out space or go for a complete office refurbishment – according to post COVID needs:
The term “office fit out” refers to the transformational process of empty space, making it suitable for an office environment. It involves multiple things like mechanical, electrical, and furnishing setups to make the area ideal for the occupants.
In many office fit-out requirements, the contractors are only provided a blank canvas or four walls. Only when the basic structure of an office is applied can it lead to a refurbished working space.
However, many other options are available in the office-out categories. Depending on the business nature and needs, you can opt for a single or a complete fit-out package. These options include:
Shell and Core: It includes the concrete building structure that can be used as a workspace. As the name suggests, it has the basic “shell” of the building. Mechanical and electrical work is needed to bring it into a working condition.
Category A: Once the initial building structure is in hand, this option provides all the mechanical and electrical work. For instance, the essential lighting, ceiling, heaters and air conditioners, fire detection systems, toilets, etc. Thus, the space now gets ready to be furnished.
Category B: This stage comprises all the interior designing considerations and furnishing as per the new corporate norm in the pandemic era. After this stage, employees can join the office without hesitation and start working in a collaborative environment.
Another way to make the office ready for employees joining after a long hiatus of work-from-home is to go for a complete refurbishment or renovation.
Office refurbishment is entirely different from getting a fit-out space. It refers to revamping an office space that is already in use. For instance, if you have an ample workspace but individual working stations are not made as per the social distancing rule, you can consider office refurbishment.
Furthermore, this is the right option if you plan to put in additional doors, windows, and low-touch devices in your office. Since you already have the basic building structure, you do not need to invest in relocation. In this existing structure, you can create opportunities for flexible working, like making separate rooms for hybrid working, meeting rooms with distanced chairs, individual cabins with protective glass shields, etc.
Mandatory Steps for Ensuring Employee Safety
Knowing some decorating points is essential whether you go for an office fit-out space or consider refurbishment. Since you are planning for a workplace modification, you should know about things that can bring a positive change. This transformation should reduce the probability of catching the virus besides diminishing the mental stress.
Let us see what they are
1. Using Touchless Technology
We touch many things like doors, elevators, microwaves, shared desk supplies, and computers in an office. However, due to the contagious nature of the virus, touching the same things as their peers can make employees freak out. Therefore, reducing the touchpoint is ideal for making them feel at ease. Here is how we can do it:
Touchless Entry System
Touchless doors are commonly available in the market. Though they are more expensive than the traditional manual doors, they are worth buying in the current scenario. Besides the touchless entry, their durability and convenience in high-traffic areas justify the cost.
Likewise, a mobile-based access control system is commendable. Activated through Bluetooth, the system allows employees to enter without even taking out the phone from the pocket.
Furthermore, touchless elevators are essential. However, there should be a limit on the persons using the elevator at the same time. We should set this limit by considering social distancing and the elevator’s capacity.
The use of touchless faucets, switchboards, separate microwaves, and water coolers for every department is also a plus point. It will help enhance the safety of your employees.
2. Open Floor Plan
Open floors promote ventilation compared to an enclosed space where employees work in an individual cabin. Since there are no separate sections for every department, ventilation is better. Just open the main windows and reduce the chances of catching the pathogens.
Due to the main entry and exit point, there is no need for the employees to touch the door. It also eliminates the requirement of installing multiple automatic door systems.
Moreover, employees do not need to touch the cubicle openings every time they enter the workstation. Overall, open floors welcome sunlight and fresh air, thus reducing the probability of getting sick.
3. Adaptable Furniture
Since we have no clue what will happen in the coming years, using flexible furniture is a wise decision. Today, many of us are practicing hybrid working. But, we can even shift to a complete remote or full-fledged on-site job. Thus adaptable furniture can help us adjust in any situation.
Many companies have introduced a wide range of flexible furnishing items. The collection comprises tables, chairs, desks, and accessories that are flexible and easy to reconfigure. Thus, employees can use a single thing for multiple purposes.
Additionally, easy to clean furniture can bring convenience for maintaining hygiene standards. Due to this, cushions and sofa covers of microfiber cloth are high in demand. Cleaning this fabric is easier with a solution of water and alcohol.
Self-cleaning furniture is also trending these days. Having a finish of titanium dioxide, it self-cleans by reacting with water. The process occurs when the furniture gets direct exposure to sunlight.
Wrapping It Up
All in all, working in a post-COVID-19 office is bringing new challenges for the employees. Coming back to normalcy and getting over the trauma will take some time. But, employers should make every possible step to make the employees feel comfortable and improve their office experience.
Significant measures like social distancing, hygiene practices, installation of low-touch devices, open floor spaces, and hybrid working can uplift an employee’s spirit. An amalgamation of these steps can increase productivity and boost the overall business.