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By Dave Clifton
Content Strategy Specialist
The workplace is changing rapidly thanks to COVID-19. Even seemingly innocuous parts of the workplace are being undone—a chat by the watercooler or a jam-packed, all-hands meeting in a conference room. To keep up with new standards and emerging guidelines, businesses need to constantly examine and reexamine their workplace and test out new office improvement ideas.
In some cases, workplace change is dramatic. If your benching concept transforms into a hotel desking arrangement to acclimate to social distancing, it can be a jarring adjustment for employees. In other cases, simple changes lead to profound results, like swapping cumbersome furniture for modern, accommodating pieces. It’s up to companies to decide what’s necessary and worthwhile to change, alter, or totally reinvent in their workplace.
Below are six coronavirus-inspired office improvement ideas to consider as your company embraces the new office of the post-coronavirus world.
1. Flex work solutions
How do you design for change if you don’t know what the future of the workplace looks like? Easy! Embrace flexibility. Flex work is a growing trend that accommodates in-house employees, remote workers, non-traditional schedules, agile environments, and more. Bring diverse workspaces into your office to support any type of work style or schedule. Hot desks. Hotel desks. Breakout spaces. Assigned desks. Understand the needs of a diverse workforce and create the flexibility every person needs.
2. Movable partitions
Don’t want to up-end your entire workplace layout to create distance during COVID-19? Movable partitions are a superb investment. Set them up where you need them, move them as needed, or remove them entirely. Partitions not only separate individuals, they protect against germ spread. Plus, they can double as presentation or layout spaces if they’re made of corkboard or dry erase material. Partitions are a cost-efficient way to create space and distance, without committing to renovations or drastic scheduling changes.
Hoteling offers one major improvement to any office: order. A desk reservation and placement system invites broad opportunities for smoother workplace management. Employees have the ability to pick and choose the space that’s right for them, and facilities managers can oversee the reservation process under whatever circumstances are appropriate—contact tracing, utilization metrics, and sanitizing schedules. Hotel desking may be an adjustment for some employees, but it’s easy to acclimate to and offers broad benefits that can win over employees who otherwise fear change.
4. New furniture
New furniture is a workplace improvement concept that creates both surface and underlying elements. On the surface, employees get to enjoy new chairs, desks, light fixtures, and other furniture, which supports comfort and productivity. Underneath, new furniture can actually enable better space utilization and floor planning. COVID-19 also offers a great opportunity to get new furniture under the guise of providing employees with a health-minded approach to amenities. Even employee morale benefits. What’s not to love about a new desk chair?
5. Scheduled sanitizations
Some workplace improvements aren’t physical, but are still necessary to explore while coronavirus lingers. Workplace sanitization is one of them. Consider scheduling routine sanitizations for the sake of workplace cleanliness and to give employees peace of mind about their work environment. The schedule depends on the company and the scope of its facilities. Some may institute a weekly deep-clean as part of routine janitorial services. Others might go so far as hourly disinfections between groups of people utilizing a space. Whatever the schedule, sanitizations offer immediate and meaningful improvement to the workplace.
6. Staggered shifts and scheduling
Another intangible change to the workplace, staggered shifts and scheduling makes a lot of sense for companies with distributed teams and flex work opportunities. There are broad opportunities to make staggered scheduling work, too. Some companies might opt for the Monday, Wednesday, every-other-Friday approach, with an offset Tuesday, Thursday, every-other-Friday group. Some companies may split shifts—9-5 becomes 6-2 and 10-6 to reduce overlap. Others may group employees into in-house, remote, and flex workers, and schedule workplace functions around that. Whatever the method, staggered shifts and scheduling helps companies acclimate in the COVID-19 age.
The office has changed
What does the new norm look like? Is the office coming back? Will we ever be able to go back to the way things were? These questions and dozens more like them have many businesses scrambling to predict the future of the workplace. But you don’t have to. Simply design for change and embrace flexibility! Regardless of what the future brings, create a workplace that supports employees and the work they do, while putting their health, comfort, and empowerment first.
Keep reading: COVID-19 and Employee Fear on Returning to the Workplace