Telecommute VS In-Office Environment
Many employers/companies have resisted telecommuting for various reasons for many years. Due to COVID-19 and the “Stay at Home” order, companies were forced into the remote working environments in a very short time frame. In talking with many clients, consultants, and others, it is sounding like most companies have been able to be more successful and efficient than expected.
Now employers are asking can more of my employees work remotely and not need to be in the office?
If more of the employees can work from home, than this will lessen the requirements for office space square footage and space needed.
Can my company maintain a remote working environment or is the in-person collaboration a necessity for success?
Our firm has been successful in making the short term working remotely concept work for us but we do know that we thrive on collaboration and in-person communication so we would not be able to work remotely for long term and be as successful. This will be an important question for each company to ask themselves.
Circulation in the Workplace
Even if workstation layouts in an office space provide a the required 6’ separation at the desks, does the circulation path around the office provide the same separation? In most offices, the circulation paths are not 6’ away from the other staff especially in the open workstation environment. How will these need to be addressed? If the 6’ separation rule cannot be attained, then will all staff be required to wear PPE?
Gathering/Public Meeting spaces in the Workplace Environment
Due to the new 6’ foot separation rule which I don’t believe will go away anytime soon, we started to think about what will happen with the meeting spaces (i.e. Conferencing, Lounges, Meeting rooms, Training etc.). Large to even small meetings/gatherings will be extremely affected by this rule. Most rooms are not sized or have a layout to provide the separation required. Due to the “Stay at Home” order, we are also seeing a huge rise in the success of video conferencing. Will large meeting and training events go digital? If so, how will these rooms be utilized now? Will they need to be modified to different uses?
All companies are different and so are their employee needs whether it be independent, collaborative or a combination of both. Can the collaboration be 100% digital? Will all team meetings look like this?
A HUGE trend before COVID-19 for Workplace design was the implementation of Hot-Desking layouts. This concept included benching style desks that were unassigned. Each desk could be used by any individual. The furniture and equipment are shared by all. Now it seems inevitable these spaces will be eliminated IF and WHEN we can return to work. Due to the shared benching layout, there will be no employee separation and germ transmission risks are extremely high. So again, what do companies do with these spaces? Will these spaces need to be modified to comply with guidelines? If so, what does the new benching model look like? Can the unassigned desk concept be maintained? If so, will there be sanitation requirements for each user?
Lastly, do we need to change at all?
Until State/Federal Guidelines are determined, until there is a vaccine, until we understand how pre-screening will be used or even required, we can’t determine how the Workplace Environment will need to be changed, if at all….
If you have questions regarding POST COVID-19 in the Workplace, Magellan is available for you.
Our design thinking caps are on and we are here to help!