In the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, governments have issued directives for company leaders to create a safe work environment for their workforce.
There is still some uncertainty about returning to the office. Studies have shown that pre-pandemic workplaces could be a breeding ground for illness. With a new and potentially fatal threat added to the equation, decision-makers are faced with a Covid-secure quandary.
Experts predict that workers will return to the office. The logical solution is for companies to implement remote working options, and balance the time an employee spends in the office with the amount of time they work from home.
When employees do return to the office, they will expect to have access to facilities and furniture that is designed to protect their health. New look offices need to be fitted out with the latest office furniture designs to help achieve this goal.
Social distancing furniture
Post-pandemic office designs will inevitably include social distancing furniture, such as unobtrusive dividing screens made from a material that can be easily cleaned.
Transparent partitions promote a sense of togetherness, but also act as sound-absorbing panels. This can help to soften distracting noises – a commonly annoying problem in open-plan offices.
Glass and perspex partitions will most likely be the popular choice, for their aesthetic qualities and easiness to clean. From a practical viewpoint, studies have shown that coronavirus has a shorter stay on cardboard than any other material.
Build 2 metre markers into design
Social distance markers serve as a reminder for colleagues to keep their distance. Rather than sticking electricians tape to the wall, making marks with chalk, or placing unsightly adhesive mats on the floor, you can build social distancing markers into the design of your office.
The most obvious markers are at floor level. Carpets with conspicuous markers included in the pattern are a simple solution. A one-way navigation system around the office with stand-out markers will also be part of the ‘new normal’.
Other design-savvy solutions that can be used to encourage behavioural changes are lighting, plants and innovative wall markings. Tech-savvy firms may prefer motion detector sensors that provide voice reminders.
Among the most groundbreaking scientific research in recent years is the discovery of UV light that can neutralise pathogenic microorganisms. This new technology is said to be more effective at killing harmful bacteria than chlorine-based disinfectant.
Lighting firms have started stocking designer lights that slow the growth of bacteria, fungi and mould. The pro-active lighting system may also help to speed up the deterioration process of Covid-19.
Another revolutionary advancement in science is the development of a polymer that eliminates bacteria and germs when exposed to sunlight.
Manufacturers in Germany have added the titanium dioxide-filled polymer coating to office furniture to reduce the number of bacteria and fungi commonly circulating around offices.
The directives for designing a Covid-safe work environment are expected to change as time goes by. In the meantime, the best thing employers can do for their employees is to get the basics right, by installing office furniture that encourages social distancing and helps to kill pollutants.