Viral revolution: the latest trends of office safety

Recent pandemic circumstances force many companies around the globe to rethink how we use office spaces. Soon, many employees will return from home back to offices. Employers have to consider new requirements and risks and take the necessary measures. In addition, we may have to face the second wave of the pandemic, expected in the next autumn.

Safety has become the leading trend of office space design. At the same time, safety is much more than just protective screens and disinfectants. Let's look at the main trends in office design and layout that have arisen due to the pandemic:
1. The low-touch/no-touch approach

Office space should exclude moments of hands' contact with surfaces to the fullest possible extent: lamps without buttons, non-contact elements, non-standard door handles, touch mixers, buttons, dispensers – everything that employees use most often should become non-contact.
2. The new mode of operation
The relatively successful transition of employees to the online mode in many fields demonstrates that combining work from home and office work is quite rational. Remote work has been widely implemented in the technology industry – programming, design, design, where productivity is valued higher than office attendance. Many companies are considering introducing a shift schedule – for example, 3 days at office/2 days at home. It makes sense to introduce a shifted start time for employees instead of a single start time for all your staff. When employees come to an office one after another, with a certain interval, this helps to avoid crowding both at the entrance and in common areas.
3. Streams
Particular attention is paid to streams of people and how their paths intersect. It is extremely important to keep in mind the separation of streams in corridors and strive to organize one-way traffic.
4. Stairs and elevators
The distribution of streams, which we talked above, should be observed when moving between floors as well: it's recommended to use stairs for people working on floors 1-3, and an elevator for lifting to floors 4-6. Stairs should be divided into those that will be used only for going upstairs, and those that are designed for going down.
5. Cabins, boxes, cubes

The distance led to the return of all sorts of booths and boxes. Space "gapping" should be carried out due to a larger number of informal zones for privacy, call booths, small meeting rooms, cubicles, plexiglass and glass screens. Sitting arrangement should also be reviewed: variants of checkerwise (wave-like) seating, distanced sitting are possible.

6. Disinfection
The most obvious trend in the current situation is the disinfection of surfaces and air. Foreign companies are developing and re-equipping ventilation and air conditioning systems in buildings. We note the introduction of cleaning filters, ultraviolet lamps in ventilation chambers, the use of antimicrobial materials, as well as the development of new fabrics resistant to regular steam and dry cleaning. Porous structures are likely to lose popularity, because they are fertile ground for mold and bacteria.
7. Telepresence technologies

Video communication is a very convenient and safe invention, which today has become rather relevant. Collaboration of employees using video communications is becoming an important component of routine processes and has a positive effect on workflows. Maintaining the integrity of a corporate culture can be difficult when company employees are located in different countries of the world. Thanks to the capabilities of telecommunication technology, employees can work with their colleagues remotely. Moreover, today telecommunication is also used within one office. Using a virtual meeting room helps to avoid offline meetings consisting of 10+ people.
8. One room – one person
One of the leaders in architecture and design in the world, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, state the following: it's the right time to switch to the "one room – one person" mode. Such a mode can be implemented through a key card, which does not allow several people to gather in one room at once. Even when an office is already working, and all employees have gone to workplaces, office kitchenettes, eating and resting areas are still "on pause". Many companies plan to revise the catering arrangement in favor of individual portions delivered to each employee, and not at general gathering places.
We are constantly monitoring all changes in the world of design, and implement many of them in our work. The emphasis on office safety has become a top priority for Tengo, because the success of any business depends on the health of employees and their comfort.
Kiev, Ukraine
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