Thursday 30th April 2020 Thoughts on Covid-19: Workplace Design Challenges Post COVID-19

Guest post by Francisco Vazquez, 3g Smart Group and Workplace Trends Iberia

COVID-19 has not only put our healthcare system in tension, but has also come to question the traditional model of face-to-face work that exists in most companies. The pandemic we are experiencing has made telework the new normal for millions of people and it is foreseeable that it will gain relevance in the future.

The growing adoption of telework by many organizations in recent days has shown howtechnology can promote another way of working more committed to reconciliation and the environment, and more adequate to respond to crises like the one we are facing. 

Before the current health crisis, flexible work, which includes teleworking as one of its tools, was a reality in many organizations and was being implemented in others, which has allowed them to be fully operational remotely. Other companies are now facing and understanding the possibilities of remote working. It is clear to me that this crisis will accelerate the implementation of the flexible working models (including telework) and will become the new normal…. but it won’t be exactly the same!!! We will have to take into consideration additional aspects related to what we have learnt from this situation, such as social distancing, personal hygiene, disinfection, and ventilation, ….

The adoption of flexible working models must necessarily be reflected, in turn, in an evolution of space design towards what we know as flexible offices. Flexible offices have given the design solutions to this new ways of working, where, up until this crisis, the focus was set on having spaces to collaborate, social interactions and learning areas. But also to ensure meeting the company’s strategy in terms of sustainability, well-being, talent retention, flexibility, inclusion and, of course, the productivity and efficiency of the organization. New aspects like social distancing will have a big impact on how the offices will be designed, specially for meeting rooms or the traditional benches, that aimed at maximizing the number of positions. 

Space ratios, that were coming down 20-30% when we implemented flexible office space, will probably increase back after this crisis. 

In addition, sanitary aspects related to future pandemic will have an impact in how common areas of the buildings are designed, like access, lifts lobbies and the lift in itself. Also, the mechanical installation of buildings will be redesigned to meet new standards, for example ventilation and facility management services will change accordingly,  mainly in all issues related to disinfectants and cleaning.    

  • Flexible working models will extend rapidly in all the organisations. 
  • Workplace design will need to give response to new challenges like keeping the recommended social distance. Workplace space ratios may rise back up. 
  • Buildings must adapt to pandemic prevention requirements. 

With thanks for this guest post to:

Francisco Vazquez, 3g Smart Group and Workplace Trends Iberia.