De-escalation in the office: how to get back to work

Coworking office design and refurbishment (25)

Health was the main reason for home confinement. And health will be the essential factor in the return of employees to the workplace. This return and de-escalation will depend on the circumstances of each company, but they will have some points in common, all of them focused on avoiding the spread of the virus in the office and generating confidence in their users:

  • It is not only the reality that matters, but also the perception we have of it. We will analyse the sanitary recommendations and apply protocols that include concepts such as cleanliness, disinfection, order, distance, among others. We must make an effort to convey that these protocols have been studied, that the situation is under control and that the risk is measured.
  • Rigour, transparency and participation are essential. Without these concepts there is no perception of control and no trust.
  • Common sense and pragmatism must prevail, informing decision-making.
  • Flexibility in the face of new health recommendations should prevail in the proposals made, making it possible to adapt without great cost to scenarios where measures are tightened or, on the contrary, lifted in the event of the disappearance of the virus.

Thanks to Antana's experience in adapting workspaces, we can help companies to manage the return of their employees to the office in the safest way possible.

"It will be necessary to resolve the various issues that arise in keeping the risk of spread limited".

Whether in corporate offices or coworking spaces, in this de-escalation phase it will be necessary to resolve the various issues that arise when it comes to keeping propagation risk limited without dramatically disrupting business activity. We look at some of them:

The first question to be resolved by our workplace team will be the number and type of workstations required in the new office. To this end, it is advisable to take advantage of the confinement period to analyse the remote working performance of the different workstations and the possibility of maintaining them in the long term, even in scenarios of Covid 19's disappearance. It may also be a good time to implement shared workstations, taking the necessary disinfection measures, if such implementation is compatible with the company's activity and reduces the number of workstations required.

Post-covid offices in de-escalation
Visits should be organised on a scheduled basis to ensure the least amount of traffic through the office.

The second issue, which is closely linked to the first, is the calculation of the necessary surface area. There is no doubt that the possibility of remote working and shared workstations reduces the surface area required. On the other hand, in many cases, remoteness will imply the extension of operational workstation areas and shared areas (mainly meeting rooms and offices). Depending on the activity of each company, the result of the above calculations will imply more or less surface area.

Due to this de-escalation and its impact on the office, the decision to expand or reduce the number of posts or floor space generally involves high costs and long-term commitments. Appealing to the common sense and flexibility indicated above, it seems reasonable to take advantage of the situation to accelerate processes that were already underway and that are compatible with scenarios with different degrees of restriction.

"Antana's architecture team is capable of designing implementations that limit the transmission and spread of the virus".

Antana's architecture team is able to propose low-cost, time-sensitive implementations that limit the transmission and spread of the virus, while maintaining the necessary flexibility to adapt to new health recommendations that may appear as the virus and its transmission mechanisms become more widely known.

Many measures have been proposed to limit the spread of the virus in offices in this desiccation. We reproduce here those related to architecture that seem to us to be the most effective, balanced in terms of cost and implementation time and, above all, useful and positive for different restriction scenarios:

  • Differentiation of areas according to the type of work carried out in them. Applying agile methodology concepts, the office should have areas for concentration, collaboration, communication (external and internal) and archiving. In each of these areas, different access controls, occupancy levels and cleaning and disinfection protocols should be established.
  • Adaptation of work areas to the recommendations on distancing and to the measures on teleworking and flexitime implemented.
  • Expansion of collaborative work and communication areas.
  • Redesign of traffic flows to avoid congestion and signage both on the wall and on the ground.
  • Installation of protective screens in those locations that need them.
  • In shared spaces, placement of materials that are easily cleaned and disinfected.
  • Placement of disinfectant mats at the entrances.
  • Dispensers of disinfectant solutions for hands and personal items (telephones, laptops, etc.) should be placed in access and work areas.
  • Installation of telecommunication systems and applications that promote non-face-to-face collaborative work.
  • Improved ventilation through the use of air filtering systems.
  • Presence sensors that allow common devices (doors, lights, taps, soap dispenser, etc.) to be operated without physical contact.
  • Smart building management systems that allow control of air conditioning, ventilation, access management or flow management in common areas.
Coronavirus de-escalation in offices
Clean and tidy spaces with the essentials are necessary for this return to the office.

The communication of the measures described above will allow to practically limit the spread of the virus in the office within this de-escalation and allow the office user to feel safe. 

Ongoing training and participation programmes should be established to enable adaptation to new health recommendations and to the users' own experience. Change management techniques will help to manage not only the return to the office, but also the first months of life in the office.

For a coherent de-escalation applied to the office, we are committed to practical solutions that follow health recommendations and take into consideration the activity of each company, and their implementation should be adapted to the nature of the organisation and the profile of its workers.

"Solutions that do not alter the essence of business and do not involve excessively costly measures".

In scenarios of uncertainty such as the one we are dealing with, we believe in adaptation rather than disruption, so we recommend solutions that, while complying with health requirements, do not alter the essence of companies or involve excessively costly measures. It is a matter of implementing measures that limit the spread of the virus and that are also positive for the company and its employees, even in scenarios where the virus disappears. 

The essence of Antana is to help organisations and adapt their workspaces to their needs, always thinking about the well-being of their workers. Call us, we will be happy to help you in these uncertain times.

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