The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed workplaces forever. Working from home has become the new norm for quarantined employees who have traded their desks for kitchen table workstations and in-person meetings for video conference calls via Zoom. As workers start returning to their offices, most can expect to find very different spaces from the ones they left, due to new health and safety guidelines mandated for businesses and the continued need for social distancing to minimize the spread of the virus.
To make employees feel safe and comfortable, companies will be paying more attention to workstation spacing, disinfecting shared surfaces, improving air quality, putting up more physical barriers, and promoting handwashing and good hygiene. But after months of isolation, workers will also crave connectedness more than ever before. They will also expect employers to make their health and well-being a greater priority.
Design Solutions That Promote Wellness
Ultimately, design experts believe the pandemic and its impact on our psyche will accelerate innovation that has already been evolving in wellness-focused design. Workplaces, in particular, will need to rethink their cultures and spaces to ensure they are creating the most healthy, productive environment possible for workers. Here are some design solutions for well-being that companies are beginning to incorporate:
Flexible and Relaxed Interiors
Now that so many employees have gotten used to working from home, they will seek the same comfort and flexibility when they return to the office. Tables, seating and accessories with ergonomic features that can be used in multiple ways can help bring a more relaxed, versatile vibe to an existing workspace. For some examples, check out National’s new Etc. collection, which offers lots of budget-friendly, trendy options.
Designs that Inspire and Stimulate
The anxiety and stress caused by the pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health and productivity of workers, and more companies are trying to figure out how to provide employees with better cognitive and emotional support. Designs that engage the senses through splashes of color, soothing textures and organic materials can help boost inspiration, energy and focus for workers. Luum Textiles’ Second Sight sustainable upholstery collection uses color, texture and architectural motifs to stimulate optimism and reflection—and it also includes a line of antimicrobial and bleach cleanable fabrics.
Personalized Spaces and Storage
With the lines between work and life increasingly blurred, employees want the ability to personalize their workspaces and inject some personality and life into them, but they also need them to be more adaptable. OFS’ Vide collection offers storage options created with personalization and movement in mind. Its stacking shelves make it easy for workers to organize and design spaces with their own personal touches, while also being able to move them around and change them up as much as they like.
If anything, the pandemic has made people aware of the importance of fresh air, especially in offices where ventilation needs to be improved to prevent the spread of airborne germs. Companies with terraces or patios will be looking for ways to create more outdoor workspaces for employees so they can enjoy the cleaner air, sunshine and natural elements vital to physical and mental health. New Studio TK’s Vondom collection includes chairs, stools and cafe-style tables that can be used both indoors and outdoors. Its lightweight, stackable pieces are easy to move between everything from an indoor cafe to an outdoor patio.
Collaborative Spaces with Barriers
Open office plans have been all the rage in recent years for the connectivity and collaboration they provide. Though you can expect a shift away from this trend in the post-COVID world, workers will still need spaces where they can connect, brainstorm and work as teams. Arcadia’s new scenery modular collection provides spacious, versatile lounge seating that makes it easy for employees to get together to work on projects or socialize while still keeping their distance. Additionally, Three H Mos Tall collection includes tall dividers that create private, enclosed offices without walls, separating workstations sufficiently without cutting off the energy and vitality in the room.
Including a mix of spaces in your workplace that support collaboration and team building as well as more focused, individual work can help you get the most out of an open office floor plan and create a productive environment where all workers can thrive.
We specialize in making office spaces innovative, inspirational, and highly productive. To see how we can renovate your own office, contact us today.