Covid-19: Facts, Conclusions and a Look at the Near Future in Office Building Design
21 July 2020
The realities of today are in many ways determining the future. Many of today’s norms will in one form or another be with us forever. But how different, and how will this “new normal” affect the use of operable walls in the various vertical markets? Gensler Architects has completed some extensive and detailed research on these market groups and deserve an enormous amount of credit for their efforts. Their conclusions and percentages are quoted in this article on office buildings. Based on their publications, some assumptions are made about how operable walls will be affected. Will their use increase or decrease? What changes to product design and features will result?
- The workplace matters. People want to return to work even though working from home is proving to be efficient
- 74% of those working remotely miss people. 54% say they miss scheduled meetings with colleagues the most. 40% say they focus more when at work.
- Not all work can be accomplished in a home office.
- 44% say they miss prompt access to technology that is only available at work. 51% say staying up to date is more difficult at home.
- People require socializing, collaboration, sharing of ideas and work experiences. Want structured meetings, impromptu face to face interactions in hallways or cafeterias etc.
- 54% say they miss socializing with colleagues. 54% say they miss impromptu meetings. 40% say they miss scheduled meetings with clients
- Fundamental changes in the way we work and in workplace design & tools will occur. Minimal touching of surfaces and social distancing may become the rule rather than the exception.
- Workers will want to feel safe, healthy and valued (protected?) while being productive and efficient.
- While working from home, workers have developed new skills in how to work virtually an new ways to connect with colleagues, clients
- Strengthening relationships with colleagues will become more important than ever. Support.
The Look Ahead:
- Workers in an existing open office layout will be spaced 6 feet apart minimum. Workers will never facing each other.
- Partitioning off of work stations. Unassigned work stations. Regular disinfecting. Cleaning protocols ramped up. Partial height office cubicles are not the preferred solution.
- More use of perimeter full height glass partitions especially in existing buildings. Glass will be used extensively in fixed and in operable (acoustic) walls. Provides separation but also allows visual contact.
- Staggered shifts of in and out.
- No more than 10 chairs in conference rooms spaced appropriately
- Collaborate virtually wherever possible
- Good hygiene. Minimal touching of office components. Products designed to be sanitized. Use of surfaces that do not encourage adherence of bacteria.
- Empowering workers to work responsibly and have a greater sense of control and involvement in their work environment
Read more about how we need to adapt to the times here
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