How to prepare your workplace for return to the office? 6 things you should reconsider!

Since March 2020 we have realised that COVID-19 is unpredictable but we can design the workplace to limit the spread of other infectious viral outbreaks. What’s essential in adjusting offices and maintaining the right balance between health and safety, comfort, sustainability, and privacy rights for office users? 

We are wiser after over a year of the pandemic. In the face of this new reality, Skanska has taken steps to outline a way of readjusting the working environment for employees who will return to offices. 

- Our efforts were directed at indicating how to create a safe working space which will encourage to work in offices and at the same time maintain the company culture. Together with our partners we tried to redefine the future of workplaces and adapt the concept to help respond to their needs. The office of the future will not be just some location that the employees have to go to every, day but a place where they themselves want to be. It will facilitate socializing, sharing experiences, and finding the balance between personal and working life - says Adam Targowski, Environmental Director at Skanska’s commercial development business unit in CEE.

In its way to adapt to the current situation, Skanska has developed the “Care for Life Office Concept”. It was designed with focus on making employees feel safe when they come back to work. How to furnish an office where people can work during a pandemic? There are recommended solutions for fit-outs that meet pandemic guidelines:

1. An increased amount of focus rooms 

A vital motivator to work in the office is now a quiet workplace, allowing people to concentrate. Working in an enclosed, comfortable space increases productivity. Turn an open space into several focus rooms with different functions. Allow for standing or seated work as well as rest.

2. Amenities in spaces enabling collaboration

According to a Skanska study, people still prefer going to the office. However, in the post-pandemic era, offices will have to offer more than before – they should be better, more comfortable and exciting than what we have at home. Different types of work spaces, such as creative work rooms or remote forms of collaboration will improve safety and freedom of choice in how to work.  To relax effectively, create team meeting spaces and inbuilding services, such as coffee shops, game rooms or Pilates classes. 

3. Use of meeting rooms during the pandemic

Meeting room capacity should be reduced during the pandemic. Sensors that collect occupancy data make it possible to control the number of participants. Provide more flexibility in the office space. When holding large meetings is not possible in a room, rearrange the open space.

4. Proptech solutions help optimize space occupancy

Computer simulations increasingly drive tenants to optimize space usage based on statistical probabilities. Sensors, heat maps, and traffic monitoring are areas of proptech that are already supporting tenants in their management decisions. Observe, analyze and schedule traffic in your office.

5. Desk wider than 1.6 meters

The socially distanced office has reshaped the office furniture. It’s called the Six Feet Office. It is a way of transforming existing offices into places where the six-feet distance rule is obeyed (6ft = 1.83 meters). Provide desks that are at least 1.6 meters wide. This will ensure comfort and make it easier to maintain the necessary social distance. Arrange rows of desks 2 meters apart to keep walkways safe. 

6. Suspension of desk-sharing

Desk-sharing is a common solution in flexible offices. However, it should be carefully reviewed, as the workspace should be assigned to only one employee during the day. Thorough disinfection of the workspace is a priority that should be performed every day. 

Skanska commercial development business unit in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE)  

Skanska is the largest office developer in Europe. Skanska commercial development business unit in Central and Eastern Europe operates in four countries: Poland, Hungary, Romania and the Czech Republic. It is an innovative developer of green, futureproof office buildings. The company builds open, safe and lively spaces where employees feel good. Skanska's office projects are certified in the LEED, WELL Core & Shell, and WELL Health-Safety Rating systems. Skanska's new investments are adapted to be used by people with special needs – including people with disabilities or parents with young children. In 2020, Skanska commercial development unit in CEE sold 4 buildings for over EUR 265 million and leased 135,000 sqm of office space.  

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