In a relative blink of an eye the world has changed and woken up to the unsettling reality that we are highly vulnerable to the most basic of life forms… viruses. The Coronavirus pandemic is sure to lead the way to various changes in both our work and home lives. This will affect us culturally (handshaking / mask wearing) through to how we move across the world and of course how we work.
For the last decade we have been moving toward more inclusive and open ways of working. The office landscape is now more collaborative and open plan serving to ensure both a healthy level of communication but also creating a more friendly, campus-type experience for the new emerging workforces of ‘Gen X,Y and Millennial’s’.
Will Covid-19 call time on this movement toward for more open workplaces and collaborative landscapes? Time will tell... but in the meantime we do have to prepare ourselves for the new normal which involves such terms as Social Distancing, Self isolation, Lockdown and PPE.
Like most companies Think Furniture is both watching closely these changes but also talking to both clients and manufacturing partners to ensure we are ready and prepared to help adapt the workplace to suit this ‘new normal’ and ensure that people feel both safe and secure when they return to work.
From small adaptations to more wholesale changes we can discuss, help and plan for these changes as well as consult on what other companies are doing to navigate their way through these essential changes. Below we have listed and discussed some of the relevant areas at this time...
The modern office has evolved and developed into a highly tuned environment that takes care of both its human occupant (ergonomics, acoustics, heat and light) but also works efficiently to create a landscape that allows for effective communication, collaboration, study resulting in a higher yield of completed work.
How much impact Coronavirus will have in both short and longer term remains to be seen but we suspect that there will be cultural changes within organizations to protect the welfare of both their employees and clients whilst still ensuring the organization still functions.
We are talking to office designers and reviewing likely tools that will help adapt to the new normal so consideration of more screens, separation zones and isolation / communication booths and pods will likely feature in some of those conversations and office designs.
AT THE DESK
With some much hype and fear resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic we will need to ensure employees and visitors feel safe when they return to the workplace. The most immediate (and easy) adaptation of workplace will be to provide degrees of separation between desk users.
This can take several forms however after spending many years trying to create more open environments it maybe that more glazed or transparent barriers will feature as part of this solution.
Think Furniture are working with several leading manufacturers to ensure we have adaptive solutions ready sooner rather than later to help make these changes.
First impressions are very important and never more so than now. Companies will be judged by their ability to adapt to the new normal and how they safe guard both their employees but also their visitors and clients.
Working alongside several manufacturing partners we have developed a range of transparent screen options to provide a transparent barrier solution that will instil confidence whilst still allowing that most human of traits to be signalled... a welcoming salutation and a smile.
MATERIALS & SURFACES
Part of the new normal will be the need to ‘up the game’ on cleaning and hygiene within workplaces. Part of this solution will be be to ensure the office landscape be it desks / chairs or sofas are all maintained to a high level of cleanliness. Thankfully most hard surfaces are relatively easy to clean but this becomes trickier when dealing with fabrics. Some fabrics can withstand detergents whereas others with more natural fibres / wool may not react well to certain cleaners. It is important that any cleaning is conducted to the manufacturers recommendation (depending on the fabric type). More recently there has been a healthy amount of synthetic and anti-microbial fabrics launched into the market which allow for us to recommend solutions that will be much easier to maintain to a higher cleanliness standard.
This becomes even more important in environments where lots of people congregate or use the furniture i.e. collaboration zones and public spaces.
WORKING FROM HOME
Rather than assume that working from home is the death knell to the traditional workplace we see this as an effective adaption of how we work and if this is conducted correctly should allow companies to be both more efficient whilst empowering their employees to choose where they work depending on the task or type of work that needs to be carried out. That said it is important to equip the homeworker with the right set up and tools to both ensure best practice in terms of DSE and Ergonomics. As each home is different the solutions and types of set up will also need to be varied and adaptive. Think Furniture have spent a lot of time looking at a whole series of options and can now confidently help with a wide portfolio of WFH solutions from the fast, simple and economic and small space saving set ups right through to the full home office and study options.
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
Whilst most office environments will not (hopefully) require mandatory wearing of PPE it maybe appropriate to have on hand for visitors or vulnerable people. Indeed any employees needing to visit shops, use public transport or have to visit places where there is a lot of close proximity to other people may want or require some form of PPE. This is more a contingency requirement than a (hopefully) part of the new normal.
Think Furniture are independent furniture and workplace consultants who have a combined knowledge of over 40 years within the furniture and interiors industry. Being independent allows us to research the best and latest products and workplace practices whilst ensuring we can tailor our suggestions and solutions around our clients needs.
For more information or just an informal discussion about how we could help then please call our office or email us:
Think Furniture Main Line: 01843 295198
Tony King (Director) Mobile: 07949 520566