Create a welcoming environment at your workspace with our design tips on promoting a safe and inviting return to the office
As organisations around the world continue with plans for a gradual return to the office, they not only have to contend with the benefits that workers have come to expect through remote work, but they must also ensure the comfort of those uncertain about the safety of working outside their homes.
Managing expectations for return to work is essential for that weening process that for some companies has not yet begun. Passively understanding individual well-being considerations is pivotal. Companies can do this by planning a space that is inclusive of personal preferences.
Speaking on the subject, Flokk Senior Ergonomics Consultant Sukhi Assee says “Organisations need to create innovative ways to encourage staff back into the office. Innovation in this instance, does not always start with making spaces look visually appealing; it needs to start with the person.”
It’s understandable that some individuals may feel reluctant about returning to the office due to health worries. Instigating a simple traffic light system, either with badges, or a wristband can help people indicate to other employees the level of interaction they feel comfortable with.
A red wristband would indicate social distancing is requested, yellow for limited contact and green indicates a more relaxed position. Each company can create its own rules based on their employee's responses, to allow more people to work happily.
Depending on the nature of the business, companies can even set up zoned areas to cater to different levels of personal interaction post-covid. Similar to the wrist bands, the work environments themselves indicate the level of interaction employees are comfortable with. Whilst there are limitations to this in terms of providing enough space, and opportunity for different tasks, this can work quite well if the office is supplemented with remote work.
More on zoning - create a hybrid workspace that makes your employees feel like they belong
Whilst many workers have returned to the office, occupancy levels in most workplaces are far below their usual levels. Individuals are still working remotely for a significant proportion of their working lives, meaning that offices can feel lonely at times, especially with a reduction in general chatter, and amplification of echoes from people walking corridors. Noise is a physical sense and can have a big influence on psychosocial wellbeing in the office. Acoustic paneling is an aesthetically pleasing method that can reduce echoes. Well-designed acoustic products can combine collaborative and individualised work within the same vicinity.
Soft seating can make a space look less office-centric whilst creating a beautiful place for workers who prefer to work anyplace, anytime. Short-term breakout areas allow for a better dynamic way of working. Insights have led to the creation of these types of spaces over the past few decades, but since the pandemic, people have become much more accustomed to working from home, and creating a more cosy and homely working environment can help to increase happiness and decrease anxiety in the office.
One of the most experienced benefits of remote work is the increased power over how and when people are carrying out their work tasks. Reluctant to give up this perceived autonomy, it is expected that many individuals will be reluctant to return to the office. By providing as much autonomy in the office as at home, businesses can expect a much greater and more willing return to office workspaces, and combined with the above measures can ensure happy and productive working days.
The new workspace ecosystem currently taking shape is a big challenge for organisations when it comes to reimagining their workspace designs, but it should also be treated as a golden opportunity to reap the benefits presented by a more flexible way of working.
How will companies and organisations be affected by the change in workplace dynamics? What measures can they take in order to successfully transition into the next workspace ecosystem? Download our whitepaper to hear our take on these important questions facing businesses around the world.
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