Covid19 – The future Workplace
26 May 2020
Covid19 is currently defining the way we live our lives and in particular our working lives. As the government and the public at large endeavour to keep the rate of infection of the virus the “R” figure, below 1 we are faced with the unprecedented challenge of how to structure our work lives to keep ourselves and those around us safe.
2 big questions before we even face how our places of work might operate are do we need to be in work at all, is there a way of doing our jobs from afar and secondly how do we travel to our places of work.
“Seventy-seven percent of workers say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly when the pandemic is over.” (Source: Square dot)
If we can satisfy these questions and the type of work means it can only be carried out in a work place then we are left wondering how we rethink these spaces to allow them to continue to function and do so in a way that minimises the risk of infection but still allows business to run smoothly and productively.
Obviously though workplaces vary hugely, there are lots of simple steps that can help keep people safe.
Adequate and plentiful cleaning points allow staff to keep clean and limit transmission, touch points ie, door handles etc should be minimised, by keeping any doors open that can be for example, designated desk spaces so that workers keep to their own stations and limit cross contamination, and redesigning office circulation to enable people to social distance.
A lot of these things can be done with no cost outlay, just behavioural change, to aid them, staff should be provided with guidance that is updated regularly and clear signage and way finding should be suitably positioned around the workplace.
“When working alone, which accounts for 57% of a typical workers day, employees say they are productive 75% of the time, compared to only 63% at the office. When working with others, which accounts for 43% of a typical day, employees say they are equally productive at home as in the office.” (Source: Squaredot)
The market is quickly responding to provide employers with physical equipment to make staff safer, these range from thermal imaging solutions to screen for signs of fever and high temperatures to desk furniture that allows the screening of seated workers.
Of course the safest option if possible is to work remotely, thankfully we have the means to do this with high speed internet and powerful IT solutions including multi-person video conferencing, with the likes of Google offering video calls of up to a 100 people. And this is clearly a work style that can only improve with the advent of 5G and other innovations.
When working from home it is still of great importance to ensure that the proper, ergonomic seating and desk setup is enabled, and it doesn’t take much time seated at our kitchen table to realise this!
For some employees daunted by the task of accommodating the guidelines of how to redress their office spaces, there are companies positioned to help audit and then recommend blue prints for how this can be done. Squaredot are one such company who have been publishing great analysis of how covid19 is affecting the workspace landscape.
Here is the Goverment’s guidance for employers in office situations.