Unless you’ve been living under a pandemic free rock for the past year, you’ll be well aware that serious change is afoot in the way we work, as a nation and a world. Though it might be optimistic to even say the words ‘post-COVID world’, many businesses are already making plans for how their physical offices may look when it’s finally declared safe for workers to properly return.
When deciding on a suitable office design for next year and beyond, on one which puts staff at ease and helps them resume a focus on work and find workplace contentment, there are a few things to bear in mind; here are 5 IDEAL tips for redesigning your workplace in a post-COVID world.
ASK IF YOU NEED A CENTRAL OFFICE AT ALL
One of the first questions you should pose as the world transitions to home working is if your company truly needs a central office space at all. Indeed, largely due to coronavirus, around half the workforce were working from home when we first entered lockdown, and we suspect the number might be higher now.
If you are considering setting up a more fully fledged domestic office space, whether it’s a home office renovation, refurbishment or perhaps a new build, having a qualified builder for your project will be a necessity to ensure it replaces the ‘real’ office effectively and doesn’t feel like a stopgap.
As highlighted by the building experts at Marriott Construction, a dedicated, permanent domestic working space could be the way forward. They say, ”if you run a small business, you could save yourself a small fortune by working from home instead of renting an office.’’
That said, this is largely dependent on the size of your business. Should you still need a central office space to complete company tasks effectively, then it’s important you involve your employees in the decision making, to ensure you have their full support going forward in this challenging time.
MAKE THINGS EASIER FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES
It’s likely that right now your employees are indeed working from home. Though many have enjoyed certain elements of #wfh, others have missed the more practical perks of having a genuine office to go into each day. Indeed, for some, sustained home working has led to unexpected costs, on electricity (and soon to be heating) bills, laptop upgrades, stationery and more.
Should you, as a responsible employer, decide that remote working will be the way forward for your company, do ensure that positive practices fostered in the workplace aren’t forgotten about because your staff are now working flexibly or remotely.
As such, do endeavour to make sure your colleagues have everything they need to complete their tasks efficiently from home. If your office’s work was largely computer based (that’s all of them, then), don’t just assume all workers will have laptops. You may well have to provide them.
Also consider providing stationery and other office supplies. It would be unfair to place the financial burden onto your staff to buy these items which were previously provided by the company.
If you are still going to work centrally, it’s essential that procedures are more flexible going forward. Staff will have welcomed not having to commute, and the greater autonomy over start and finish times, as well as lunch breaks, which they’ve gotten used to. To make the transition back to physical attendance as seamless as possible, consider flexi-time and give staff more choice regarding their hours. It might even be good to strike a balance between some home working and some office attendance in the future.
Employees will be feeling some natural, understandable trepidation about returning to the office. So, when redesigning your office to be COVID-secure and reassuring for employees, do make sure the changes you’ve made are thorough.
Prior to staffs arrival back at work, it’s important you communicate the changes you’ve made. Hiring extra cleaning staff, installing hand sanitising stations at all desks, and setting up see-through partitions are just some of the essential modifications you should be making. For more thorough advice, do check out the government’s official guidelines on making your office COVID-safe, which covers everything from social distancing to face coverings, managing visitors and more.
That said, you should be able to provide your employees with a space where they can easily and efficiently collaborate. A meeting room or area which provides comfort, clear social distancing and snacks is vital, then!
Otherwise, questions will be asked about why this isn’t all being conducted over Zoom. Indeed, you want your employees to feel as though there’s still value had in coming to the office. As such, it would be wise to invest in some ergonomic furniture to positively differentiate the office from everyone’s home office setups. Because let’s face it, we’re all a bit sick of the bad posture we’ve adopted recently.
INCLUDE LOUNGE SPACES IN YOUR DESIGN
This has been a trying time for everyone, and many members of your team will have spent some time re-evaluating their relationship with ‘work’. We certainly know we have been!
What’s more, #wfh will have provided certain home comforts which staff will miss once back in the office. As the kind, responsible employer which we know you are, it would be a generous, potentially productive move to factor in additional lounge and recreational space in your office redesign.
By allowing employees to have space to relax and ease their mind, it will ultimately increase their concentration levels and focus. In the long run, their productivity and most importantly job satisfaction will be improved. Do check out our article for some of the ways your office design can reduce workplace stress for more on the subject.
BOLSTER YOUR BRANDING
When making your final touches to your post-COVID office, you should use the opportunity of a fresh start and a potential blank slate to bring the decor in line with your brand. Your team will have been away for a long time, and reinforcing the company’s ethos and identity through colour, artwork, and even some air purifying plants, will be a great way to encourage a fresh reconnection with your business’ core goals.
That freshness of focus will install a new sense of vigour in your staff. Good luck!