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Workplaces in the “New Normal”

The 2010s saw a lot of office design trends that focused on communication and collaboration, and then forgoing “traditional” corporate accoutrements. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many offices had to rethink their office design and figure out a way to make safe and eco-friendly workplaces while maintaining social distancing and encouraging collaboration.

Here are some design concepts to keep in mind for the modern office:

Constant Sanitation is Key

COVID-19 reminded us that proper hygiene goes a long way to preventing communicable diseases. Now more than ever, constant sanitation is a necessary step to providing people with a safe work environment, and with COVID-19, this means encouraging employees to constantly wash their hands and avoid person-to-person contact, like handshakes or hugs.

When it comes to the coronavirus, there is no such thing as “too clean,” and you’ll need even stricter hygiene and safety protocols in the office to drastically minimize the risk of infection.

The Return of the Cubicle?

The 2010s saw the rise of the open-office floor plan and it was arguably the defining design trend of that decade. With the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, however, businesses need to rethink this design and adopt social distancing measures that will allow people to work within safe distances from each other.

With social distancing, health organizations suggest keeping a solid 6 feet of distance between people.

Reinstating cubicles might just be an effective way to maintain these social distancing rules and minimize person-to-person transmission, but with added caveats: the cubicles need to be spacious enough so that there’s ample room between employees, and they need to be open enough, so as not to create an enclosed space.

Cubicles will also have to be sanitized regularly before and after usage. And each cubicle should have proper ventilation to help employees breathe better.

Encourage Health and Wellness

Aside from physical distancing and constant sanitation, companies should also encourage their employees to be more mindful about their physical and mental health. The “new normal” has brought a plethora of negative mental health ailments to a lot of people. Businesses need to adjust workloads and deliverables to make sure that employees aren’t going through emotional suffering.

It’s a good time to remind your employees to take occasional breaks. Yes, your business commitments are important. But mentally and physically healthy employees are much more efficient than employees who are going through mental overload or physical issues.

Encourage everyone to find time to exercise at home and to have a well-balanced diet. Better yet, stock up your pantry with healthy options and forgo junk: swap sodas with all-natural orange juice, with pulp or no pulp, and have newsletters that inform people on how to do basic stretching exercises in their cubicles.

Remote Work Isn’t The Future; It’s the Necessary Present

Finally, consider remote work. Yes, many companies are still on the fence about a work-from-home arrangement. But amid a pandemic, it’s the safest, and maybe even more efficient, work model for most companies. In the “new normal,” remote work is the norm, and office work is the exception.

Consider how you can shift a portion of your workforce into a remote work scheme and figure out ways to complete projects, regardless of where employees are working from.

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