Covid-19 has propelled us all into a new challenge of living and working under the curve. As we try to progress our ‘new normal’ in a way that is good for business’ as well as good for the people they serve, we have had to adapt.

Temporary fixes and work arounds are being sought and relied upon for working life and business return. These pose challenges to wellbeing, morale, productivity and overall effectiveness if resorted to in the medium term.

Rather than waiting for restrictions to change there are opportunities to redesign working spaces and organisational environments to provide adaptive, practical solutions that can fit with the changing needs of businesses operating within a pandemic.

How we redesign in practice can not only lead us to a well-equipped environment to adapt to working under the curve, but also reimagine how workspaces can support people and their interactions in a work setting in future.

Adaptions across key aspects of your physical experience can be achieved.

Technology & Processes

Reviewing how technology can improve the flow of people around a building, reduce physical touch points and integrate workforces both working remotely and physically within spaces is vital. Many workforces are benefiting from home working, but it’s the integration of dual systems that’s important to strengthen the workplace when dealing with things such as; potential for further lockdowns, regional lockdowns, working in ‘bubbles’ or small groups, flexibility required for working parents and or shielded individuals.

Solutions may include;

  • Wayfinding cues
  • Contactless technology for access, pay, movement
  • Integrated work stations to accommodate remote workers/partners/clients into team setting
  • Updates around office and reminders
  • Group settings and spacing
  • Day-to-day processes for mail, orders, breaks, and how to make this easy for staff

Emotion & Experience

Change is not easy; we are all creatures of habit. Months of disruption, separation, changes to work and living practices have taken their toll. Does our working environment provide a productive space that will support people’s transition into a ‘new normal’, make them feel safe, protected and able to work without fear of whether they are risking their own health or that of loved ones at home? Will clients feel positive engaging with you, like you have a considered approach to working practices?

Solutions may include;

  • Communication tools and prompts in communal areas: supportive messages, reminders and updates on processes
  • Spaces identified for breaks, meetings and eating, with clarity over how they are cleaned.
  • Hand gels, desk wipes, soap and shared cleaning protocols to reassure staff and visitors
  • Experiential spaces; talks, meetings, day-to-day work. How do places make us feel and experience an organisation and its values?

Space & Culture

Restrictions, changing advice and adapting our working practices directly changes the role our spaces have to function as well as shift the behaviours of our people and therefore our working culture. If this isn’t considered and embraced, what changes could inadvertently stay? Lack of inclusion, working in siloes, poor teamwork, negative responses to change, blame culture etc.

Solutions may include;

  • Staff engagement in the process: surveys, interviews, consultation
  • Reimagining work spaces and how they can provide multiple spaces for different needs; how they can break down and shift depending on needs for the space
  • Physical space around the building could this be better worked or adapted to adhere to any restrictions – 2m to 1m, to group spaces, to lockdown and back.
  • Cultural cues and how these are shared; your vision, values, way of working. How is this tone reflected throughout your working environment
  • Zones, smaller work suites, rotation practices

First we improvised, now we must adapt