How offices need to evolve post COVID-19

This global pandemic COVID19 will change the way people live work, spend time in offices, restaurants, shopping malls, and the like, not just for the next 12–18 months, but beyond. As India works on restarting public life after weeks of lockdown, we as designers are working on ideas to make spaces more usable and safer keeping in mind the new “normal” post-lockdown.

In our last article, https://medium.com/@info_20630/how-offices-need-to-be-post-covid19-lockdown-220d0ca13cc9, we spoke about how to relook at your workspaces to avoid overcrowding and maintaining social distance. Here we emphasize wherever possible use of automation and touch-less technology for your offices, to limit the touchpoints and limit the chance of exposure to germs. This can be looked at as a new way of designing spaces post-pandemic or integrating them into the existing setup as far as possible. Also, construction materials being used with the key being ventilation and lighting.

Automation

· Automated sensor doors

· Voice-activated elevators and sensor buttons

· Phone controlled room entry

· Voice-activated switches

· Touch-less switches that work on proximity sensor module or Smart switches which can be controlled remotely via an app or web-browser, to control lights, fans, Air conditioning temperature and humidity, blinds, curtains, door lock and unlock features.

· Use of casting devices in AV rooms, like google Chromecast and firestick

· Switch to VOIP communication technology instead of phone handsets.

· Automated copy machines or go digital and save paper

· Automatic coffee machine and water dispensers.

· Smaller workplaces can use smart speakers like amazon echo and google home products for more economical automation system

· Automated commodes, faucets, soap, and tissue paper dispensers for toilets.

Antimicrobial Materials

An effort to create not just a less harmful environment but spaces that are healthy, comfortable, and in terms of workspace, productive. We need to take care of microbes. So, building spaces with antimicrobial materials help. Affordable and practical materials are available which we can use, for example

· Copper and its alloys brass and bronze exhibit inherent antimicrobial properties. It is ideal for application on touch surfaces like door handles, hardware, faucets, etc. Think of replacing your hardware or handles with these materials compared to SS and MS, where the virus stays for longer.

· Quartz is one of the hardest and nonporous stones. Combined with a small amount of resin works as an antimicrobial material for countertops. It can be used for pantry counters, reception tables.

· Certain laminates are also manufactured with an antimicrobial coating — These are ideal for workstations.

· Terrazzo and linoleum can be used as flooring materials. If building a new office, think of these flooring materials which are highly durable apart from antimicrobial.

· Additives can be mixed in paints to make them antimicrobial.

· Antimicrobial fabrics, fabrics that retain fewer germs and can more easily be cleaned, like polyurethane and acrylic, to be used for furniture. Consider reupholstering your workstation and visitor chairs with these.

· If you are looking for a quick solution without overspending, there are antimicrobial coatings and sealants available which can be applied on existing surfaces.

Apart from all of the above, shifted work times, thorough sanitization, we need to take care of a few more points while remodeling the office spaces.

· Amped up the ventilation system — There is evidence that fresh air and sunlight penetration in buildings can influence the transmission pathogens. Wherever possible work with natural sunlight and proper ventilation or otherwise air-conditioning to be re-worked at for better air circulation and air filtration.

· UV lights for a more deeply disinfecting office at night. You can even consider this after every meeting in the conference room.

· Unless the elevator has a large capacity, it will be hard to keep 6 feet of social distance. Use the staircase instead of lifts whenever possible.

 

Bluedot Design is a specialist interior and furniture design firm which caters to clients in domains such as archives, libraries, offices, retail, and hospitality. If you have more queries please reach out to us to discuss more, our team is available to help. Whether you need assistance to design, development, or want inspiration or any further information, we are here to support you.


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