BBC explores the short and long term changes in the workplace as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In the short term, Brent Capron, Principal and Interior Design Director of our New York studio, says that workstations will show greater physical separation between colleagues. “Until we hopefully have a vaccine, having that physical barrier will make people feel more comfortable,” he tells BBC.
In the long term, workplaces might integrate elements of healthcare design, such as materials that can withstand heavy cleaning using caustic products. “You’ll see porous surfaces like natural oiled wood avoided, with a preference for stone or laminates,” Brent says. He also expects to hear more discussion about air filtration systems that use ultra-violet light. “Even though a UV system isn’t something that you should have out in the open, companies may look at heavy UV cleaning to make sure that the air is as clean as we can get it.”
Workers are going to experience numerous changes in the workplace as a result of the coronavirus. As Michelle Osburn, Principal at our Chicago studio suggests, offices are going to need to set clear distancing protocols, particularly in common areas such as kitchens and elevators.
As offices being to reopen, we have created The Roadmap for Return, a comprehensive guide for our clients on how to safely transition back to the office. Lisa Pool, Principal and Planning and Strategies Practice Leader, says one of our key recommendations is to look critically at the space and to reinforce physical distancing with visual cues. This includes staggering workstations and work hours to limit the number of people in a given space.
In a discussion with WIRED UK, Linzi Cassels, Principal and Interior Design Director of our London studio, recommended clients to plan a phased return to work based on office capacity and re-organizing circulation routes to promote physical distancing and implementing cleaning protocols.
Meena Krenek,Principal and Interior Design Director of our Los Angeles Studio, shares how we are learning to adapt to new ways of engaging with coworkers and clients. “I believe we are sharing different sides of ourselves. Our perception of each other seems more genuine, which makes us feel much more connected and is allowing us to be more comfortably vulnerable,” Meena tells Forbes.
Alice Hricak, Principal and Corporate Interiors Practice Leader, discusses the opportunities and challenges that working from home has created. She believes that working from home can, in fact, be productive and collaborative “when adequate home infrastructure and employer-provided tools are in place.”
Brent Capron, Principal and Interior Design Director of our New York studio, discusses with CNBC Make It about how the pandemic will shape future workplaces and the way we work. According to Brent, corporate headquarters may eventually become a status symbol for companies that still have the budget and workplace to warrant paying rent in a major city.