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3 Ways COVID-19 Could Change The Workplace

The era of big office spaces and head offices is over…

COVID-19 has upended working life and the way people did their jobs. With the spread of the virus, came the implementation of a long drawn work-from-home system which caused fundamental changes in operations across industries.

Now, with governments and companies around the world are looking to ease the restrictions put in place due to the epidemic, minimizing virus transmission at work is the top priority that every business needs to focus on. This may lead to another set of changes around the workplace and the way people respond to the situation. Before the lockdown, around 4% of the US population worked from home. However, this figure ever since the lockdown has risen sharply as more and more people have shifted to working remotely from their homes and many predict this will eventually turn out to become a permanent arrangement.

The idea of having a big office space that everyone travels to will soon disappear. There is growing pressure among companies to use space differently and more effectively. People are now focusing on having a place to work that is closer to home. While it may not seem like a choice, but continued social distancing rules may mean that employees would need to be spaced out which would lead to less accommodation. Let’s have a look at some of the proposed changes in the workplace that would be required once easing the lockdown begins:

Re-designing workspaces:

An average workstation involved a team working together in close proximity. With social distancing practices still in place, this kind of work approach poses a problem as it increases the risk of contracting the virus. The challenge lies in adapting workspaces to incorporate safety protocols while also maintain efficiency and a sense of normalcy when it comes to working. In order to tackle this problem, most companies are thinking of implementing what is being called the ‘Six Feet Office’.

What this design does is that it focuses on the six-feet rule mandated by governments as a safety net against the spread of coronavirus. Office desks will be spread out in order to increase the space between employees and this transformation will soon be witnessed by employees.

What this design does is that it focuses on the six-feet rule mandated by governments as a safety net against the spread of coronavirus. Office desks will be spread out in order to increase the space between employees and this transformation will soon be witnessed by employees.

While social-distancing practices need to be followed without fail, there might be instances where employees unknowingly breach protocol and expose themselves as well as others to risk. To curb this, office spaces could witness the installation of signs all across the floor, reminding them to maintain distance and to ensure that all safety protocols are being met. Visual instructions and cues across lanes and corridors and inside conference rooms will help employees stay alert of the precautions that need to be taken.

Implementing strengthened hygiene standards:

A hygienic workstation is an obvious parameter of a good work environment but with the presence of the virus, extra precautions will be taken to ensure desks and workstations are clean. Additions such as hand sanitizers and disposable masks will prove to be effective. Another innovative idea is the use of disposable paper mats for desks which should be thrown out at the end of the day. This will reduce the risk of getting infected with the virus which may be present on surfaces. The use of disposable masks by employees inside office spaces is another precautionary step that can be implemented.

Avoiding physical greetings and ensuring that objects in one’s workspace are not being shared for use is another hygiene standard that will help curb the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. Employees and people, in general, are looking at new ways of greeting each other that do not involve physical interaction.

The promotion of regular and thorough handwashing is an essential task that will be observed in office spaces. Additionally, offices that provide lunch facilities or have vending machines within the premises would need to eliminate these benefits in order to prevent outside risk from getting into the office. Employees will also be encouraged to get their own lunches while following hygiene standards.

Technological changes:

Several technological implementations are being sought after in order to create safer workspaces and office buildings for employees. Since the virus can spread from contact, technology will be leveraged to minimize physical proximity amongst co-workers as well as their surroundings. Installing automated doors that open using motion sensors and implementing voice or facial recognition for security instead of biometrics is another way in which COVID-19 will change office spaces. Getting your daily dose of coffee will soon be done via smartphones.

Instead of having touch-friendly devices and tools, voice technology will be prioritized in operations as well as daily functions. From using physical devices to accessing elevators, everything can be shifted to a voice-automated environment to minimize physical touch. The creation of contactless pathways might be a glimpse of the future but it is still an upgrade that demands consideration.

While companies may not be able to accommodate their entire workforce in one go in order to maintain social distancing, sustaining work from home practices and incorporating teleconferencing and remote work with the help of technology will be observable.

The future:

These are the key ways in which COVID-19 and its ramifications will lead to fundamental changes in office spaces across the globe. Companies who have already established remote working successfully may not go back to having a physical office but should they choose not to do it, companies need to maintain a sense of collaborative effort to tackle the situation and with support from employees and implementation of these practices, the road to recovery won’t be away from sight for too long.