How has the Coronavirus epidemic impacted office design?
The Coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to have to work from home, with many choosing to decorate their home office with comfortable furniture and ready made picture frames with glass. Looking ahead though, when people start to return to their place of work after the Coronavirus lockdown is over, they will probably notice some changes.
The doors at the entrance to your office building may open automatically so that you don’t have to touch the handles, you may speak to the lift to tell it which floor you want to go to rather than pressing a button, and instead of walking into the open-plan office you were used to you may find that desks are now spaced wide apart and separated by dividers. There may even be less communal places to gather, and large notices placed in communal areas stating clearly the last time they were deep cleaned.
These are all visible changes, but there will also be changes that can’t be easily as seen as well. Things such as more frequent cleaning of spaces, better air purification systems installed, and even anti-microbial fabrics used in office furniture.
Of course, this is all based on the fact that you will actually go back to the office. Not to be harbingers of doom, but the affect that the Coronavirus has had on the economy may mean that some people will not have work to go back to. If you do still have a job, you may decide to stay working from home, and some employers are already thinking about downsizing their office spaces or even looking for more flexible options in case this situation arises again. It may also have an impact on co-working spaces, as people move away from hot desks and large communal spaces and back towards more expensive but more sanitary smaller more private spaces.
A lot of the changes in office design we have outlined above were already starting to happen before the COVID-19 outbreak, but these have now been speeded up.
Working from home will become the new normal
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that before the Coronavirus only around 1.7 million people worked from home, and this has jumped up to 4 million or more in recent weeks. This jump in numbers represents a huge shift in work culture for many people across the UK. Prior to the pandemic the percentage of people working from home was low compared to the total number of employed people. However, the trend towards working from home has been slowly growing over recent years, with company cultures and technology adapting to support it. So, it is likely that many people who have been forced to work from home during the pandemic, may choose to carry on doing so after the pandemic is over. They may not do so full time, but may opt to do one or two days a week at least.
In recent years, more people have been asking their employers for a better work-life balance as it is, and this crisis has just shown their employers that people can be as productive at home as they are in the office environment – if not more. There is a lot more to consider here though, than what employers and employees want though – we must not forget that the economic impact of the Coronavirus will also force employers to look at ways to cut costs. An easy way of doing this is to cut the cost of renting office space, by allowing employees to work from home instead – and it is much more effective than just laying people off.
The other way that this enforced working from home trend has affected employers and employees, is that they have had to invest in technology and new equipment. Data has shown that there was a sharp increase in sales of computer monitors, office furniture and office supplies in April – presumably driven by those who don’t normally work from home but have suddenly had to.
Employees themselves are also spending more money on equipping their home offices and making them comfortable places to work. Instead of working from the kitchen table, people are dedicating space to work from so that working from home becomes a functional activity within their house. This has included adding in some style and personality to the home workspace, such as mood lighting and inspirational quotes in picture frames made to order.
Coronavirus will change the way offices look and work
However, working from home all the time is not for everyone, and there are a lot of people out there who cannot wait to return to the office. As this crisis continues, though, there will have to be some alterations made to office spaces in order for people to feel safe working there again. This could mean a reversal in the open office space trend, which looked cool and stylish but doesn’t give people much protection against their co-worker's germs! We are getting used to social distancing, and this may be a trend we want to take forward in order to protect ourselves more.
This could mean a move towards more private offices for individuals or more distance between desks – with desks that are back to back with our colleagues rather than facing them or next to them. Conference rooms will also be more spaced out, holding 5 chairs rather than 10, and there will be fewer chairs in communal areas as well. We may also see the reintroduction of cubicles or desk barriers in order to prevent the passage of germs.
There will also be less visible precautions taken, such as more regular deep cleans of offices and improved ventilation systems built in. Facilities managers will have to think about every possible place in a commercial building that a person may touch – as these can be sources of contamination. This could mean that office design in the future starts to take its lead from health care design with things like copper fixtures, easily cleanable fabrics and more space in kitchens and bathrooms. Some commercial buildings may even have UV lights installed which can be left on at night to disinfect rooms safely – a practice that is common in many hospitals.
So, as you can see, the Coronavirus has had a big effect on office design already, and will continue to do so in the future.
Whatever happens with your work, whether you stay working from home or go back into an office environment, the team at Frames are here to help you with all of your custom picture frames online needs. Please bear with us when you order though, as high demand at the moment is meaning are deliveries are taking slightly longer than usual.
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