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Can A Pandemic Permanently Change the Workplace?

We know that when employees return to the office the way they work will not return to normal. Few employees will feel comfortable being in the workplace for a full eight hours and many companies will adopt a staggered work schedule. But for those who decide to return to the office, it’s important to understand how your workplace needs to change to keep them safe and happy.

1. Personalization

From individual offices to lighting fixtures to temperature controls and more, personalization will be prominent in the new modern workplace. We now are increasingly aware of our surroundings and we’d rather keep our things to ourselves. That’s the same for our workstation.

If you can’t afford individual offices for your employees, make sure you at least have a few individual meeting rooms or privacy pods where staff members can find solitude. If employees were sharing supplies or other work tools, think about investing in personal items for each employee. That goes for kitchen supplies, including cups and utensils. 

2. Well-being in the Workplace

Besides the physical well-being of your employees, their emotional well-being has never been more compromised. Returning to a post-COVID work environment means your company needs to adopt wellness-related design strategies to support your workforce. 

Focus on striking the right balance between collaboration and privacy, adding ergonomic furniture wherever possible, and creating much-needed third places for employees to disconnect, relax, and distress.  

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3. Connection

Social distancing has created a bigger need for connection than we could’ve imagined. While your office should be instituting social distancing guidelines and furniture solutions that make distancing between coworkers easier, your design still needs to foster some type of inter-office connection. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, the Zoom meetings and virtual conference calls we’ve all been having are bringing us together. Continuing these daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins should still take place even when employees return to the office. These may no longer be hour-long meetings, but rather quick updates where everyone on your team can share their wins and struggles. 

When it comes to your office layout, implementing a communal space is still essential for employees, even though this space will be used with social distancing guidelines in practice. 

The answer is yes—a pandemic may permanently change the workplace as we know it. But the differences may add more functionality, collaboration, and transparency to your office. Think of the modifications that are necessary when returning the workplace as positives rather than negatives. Because being mindful of the little things will go a long way for team morale.

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