As some businesses begin reopening and workers gradually return to the workplace, organizations should start implementing changes to reconfigure their workplaces to make their people safe while working from the office. These changes must be compliant with health and safety guidelines from regulatory bodies. With the reality of COVID-19, modifications in the approach to workspace design will be grouped into two phases:
Phase 1: Planning for the Near-term (Quick retrofitting for already-built Spaces)
Phase 2: Looking Towards the Far (New Design Paradigms for New Spaces)
This blogpost examines the Phase design modifications for the workspace with copious contextualization from our modification of the PricewaterhouseCooper Experience Centre in Lagos.
Planning for the Near-term with the PwC Experience Centre
Near-term design modifications will hinge on retrofitting spaces by adding new design features and products that will optimize already-built workspaces to become safe and compliant with health and safety guidelines. Our design team examined how this would work out with the PwC’s Experience Centre by exploring design ideas like new layouts in the space to help physical distancing feel more comfortable, new bleach-cleanable fabrics for easy cleaning, flexible mobile screens, floor markers amongst others.
Let’s have a walkthrough these designs:
As offices resume, places like the entrance, being the first touchpoints for visitors will feature a custom-designed handwash stand with soap & paper towel dispenser.
Sanitizer dispensers should be installed in spaces with touch prone surfaces or equipment like the space shuttle room.
Maintaining Safe Physical Distance: The key to preparing the office for the return of people requires changing the density, geometry, and division of the space.
In order to emphasize social/ physical distancing. Offices may be forced to take extra measures using designs. And that could include a new furniture layout as seen in the PwC reception.
For work areas such as the Infinity Workstation and the Hurdle Corner, new layouts, which create less density and more space between individuals to acknowledge greater social distancing will be implemented. In terms of interior architecture and design that would involve the use of color codes on materials such as floors or walls. This shows the boundary the next person expected to stop at on the floor finish.
Transparent Table Screens:
Workspaces should have light transparent partitions between people where required. Screens between users will go a long way to enforce safe distances. Flexible, transparent screens were introduced in strategic places in the PwC Infinity workstation.
With the reality of the pandemic, one thing is certain, the return-to-workplace process will be different. A lot is being said about what the “new normal” will be going forward, but it is clear that the pandemic has brought new considerations for workplace design. The opportunity, therefore, is for businesses to make the office even better than it was before the crisis.