The question is simple, but important. How can organisations prepare themselves to provide their employees a space where they can work effectively and efficiently, staying at par with the demands of the world? The year 2020 brought out many hidden office complications out in the open. The pandemic challenged the traditional way of working, pushing the organisations to pass their limits and adapt according to the time. For over 22 months, employees all around the globe were asked to work from home. It was one of the measures for business to stay in the market and to keep everybody safe. Gratefully, things are getting better, even though newer variants keep showing up, the organisations have prepared themselves to keep their employees safe, focusing on their health and mental health.
Work and well-being
Despite the availability of working from home, JLL’s Human Experience Report found that 70% of the work force wants to go back to offices. Working from office gives keeps them focused and closer to their teammates and management. The office environment helps them to stay sharp and, on their toes, and allows them to handle pressure well. The home environment though safe to great extent hindered their productivity and made them lose focus easily, which is not the case when they worked from the office. Also read – Office Space Leasing Is Likely to Go Up By 30-35% In 2022.
“Developers and occupiers are in the process of devising strategies for a phased return to the workplace and are being diligent and thorough. A few of the developers have upgraded their portfolios with MERV 14 air filters to improve indoor air quality, making it safer for occupants. Aligning with the need of the current situation, developers are upgrading their office spaces with contactless faucets, sanitisation touchpoints, and smart features to ensure the safety and wellness of the occupiers. Going forward, occupiers and developers will have a greater inclination towards green building with integrated Building Management Systems (BMS), which focuses on efficient consumption of energy and water resources,” explains Bhupindra Singh, managing director, regional tenant representation and office services, North India, Colliers.
“Organisations have resolved to retrofit the workplace, following the health guidelines to keep their workforce safe. For instance, they are introducing new layouts in the space to help physical distancing appear more comfortable, thus resizing the footprint creatively. Some workplaces are looking to change the arrangement of furniture to maximise distance and minimise close face-to-face orientation. Besides, skylights, biophilia, rooftop terraces, balconies, and courtyards – all contribute to a better working experience. And with Covid-19, it has become a design imperative,” adds Naveen Nandwani, MD, commercial advisory and transactions, Savills India. Also read – Noida A Growing Commercial Hub In NCR.
Technology at play
“Technology will play an important role to create a purpose-driven environment. A smart office technology powered by IoT can detect occupancy levels in the office and sensors can automatically regulate and adjust environmental features accordingly, including ventilation, heating, and lighting. PropTech is also changing the way real estate is built, managed, and used – from reducing construction costs and streamlining documentation processes to allowing users to access building amenities via an app,” says Aryaman Vir, founder and CEO, Myre Capital, a tech-enabled fractional ownership real estate platform. Also read – 5 Ways to Invest in Indian Real Estate for Big Returns.
Besides, the pantry, canteen, and other common areas will continue to be the main interaction point between the employees, they will also have to keep in mind that the virus is still around, and hence, should focus on keeping the safe distance and masks on all day long. The organisations can’t stop employees from interacting; however, they can design their workspace into an open office structure, giving employees more area to roam and stay connected with their colleagues.
“While there will still be room for Zoom calls and virtual brainstorming sessions, hygiene considerations and touch-free technology are going to become increasingly important in workspaces. Companies are re-imagining elevator designs and security access. Instead of asking everyone to travel to a single headquarter building, companies will have satellite offices or hubs that allow employees greater flexibility and choice. Simple practices like more frequent and visible cleaning schedules might contribute to a feeling of safety. Air-filters are getting installed in offices and regular air-quality assessments will become more important,” says Sana Shaikh, a Mumbai-based architect. Also read – 5 Ways to Promote Your Work Area Projects for 2022.
“The function of the office will shift away from traditional work processes to more collaborative, educational, and social needs of a growing hybrid workforce. This will lead to the development of hospitality-inspired spaces and activity-based layouts, which promote collaboration and interaction,” mentions Singh. Also, read – 4 Ways to Create “Healthy” Office Spaces.
“My company has adopted a hybrid working model and it is striving to create positive changes through design. Some notable changes, which have come about at my office are the usage of thermal imaging cameras to gauge body temperature at the entrance, safe distance between workstations, small meeting spaces, and high and conventional tables to encourage movement among employees. Whether it’s the provision of natural light, biophilic elements, wellness spaces, or using an outdoor area more effectively, I believe that companies who listen to their employees and attend to their needs will find themselves in pole position,” says Deepali Sachwani, a social media manager.