Coronavirus and the Redesigned Corporate Workspace
Over the last decade, we’ve seen companies scale down office space to reduce costs. Many tout that they want people to work closely together so they can share ideas and work more like a team. For those reasons and probably a few more, the open workspace area has been a concept used over and over again in business. Whether completely open with desks mushed together offering no privacy or those with 4 foot walls in cubes these types of designs are everywhere.
After trying this working arrangement for years, some companies have decided that it isn’t the most ideal arrangement after all. People who are loud on the telephone, those who disappear into the private rooms for what seems like an eternity and the closeness of people potentially spreading illnesses which increase sick time has been too much for some companies to continue dealing with. Others, however, forge on with this so-called cost-saving idea. But does it really save costs overall? Will it continue to be the idea of the future for office space?
Once the novel coronavirus COVID19 hit the US in full force, companies all over either went to a work-from-home arrangement if they could do so or otherwise many simply closed their doors to comply with all of the various lock-downs and quarantines in the states where they are located. Millions of Americans including those in the hard-hit retail areas lost their jobs and currently await unemployment hoping to get the help they need to stay afloat in their homes. Small business owners await the outcome of the applications for small business loans under the CARES act. And because of the financial and emotional impact of the virus, it’s hard to think past it when we don’t know HOW we are getting past it. How can we look past what is still occurring when there seems to be no end in sight?
The reality is though, at some point we will have to find a way to do so and recover the economy and our livelihoods to the best or our collective abilities. So what does the post coronavirus aka COVID19 office look like? Will companies see the benefit of cost savings by having employees work from home instead of in the brick and mortar they are accustomed to? Will they take into consideration the potential benefit of lower absenteeism? Will the offices have to be redesigned to keep the concept of social distancing alive once people begin to return to work? Will we have temperature stations at the front door of our jobs? Will masks be an everyday accessory in the workplace? Additionally, what happens to the open space concept when we know that being in close proximity to others increases the likelihood of spreading illnesses? How will architectural firms pitch redesigns that make sense? With the huge impact of the novel coronavirus COVID19, companies can not afford to turn a blind eye to how they manage office space going forward. If they do, the harsh reality is with a virus like this one, they could end up with catastrophic outcomes because of it at any time.
During this lockdown period among the many things business owners need to think about, there is definitely a need to decide on what a post-coronavirus office will look like. There is also a need to decide how your current remote or split staff arrangements are working and how long you can sustain this arrangement. We have a lot to consider in today’s environment but the most important thing to do is remain safe and healthy along the way.