Has COVID-19 Killed The Office As We Know It_

Has COVID-19 Killed The Office As We Know It?

Has COVID-19 Killed The Office As We Know It? 1000 466 Serena Estrella

The short answer is yes. (Honestly, what HASN’T been killed by COVID-19 at this point?)

More than six months into the pandemic, and the world has already changed so much. We do our grocery shopping online. Those who have kids now spend all day with them as it’s still not safe for schools to reopen. And those who were fortunate enough to somehow hang on to their jobs mostly carry them out from home.

So, even if a cure or a vaccine were to come out within the coming months, it’s highly unlikely that things will go back to what they were. The office as we know it is no exception. Here are some of the ways in which the traditional office could possibly change forever:

Goodbye to the Open Office Plan

Goodbye to the Open Office Plan

Image Credit: NY Times

Remember the ubiquitous open office plan? You know, the one where there are no cubicles to encourage better collaboration (and subsequently, a lack of privacy)?

Well, here’s some good news for you if you secretly hated that set-up. The new social distancing guidelines will probably make that a thing of the past, at least for the foreseeable future. Densification, or the practice of packing more and more people into open office spaces, will give way to greater spacing and less communal areas.

Thus, the new office will feature barriers between desks, back-to-back as opposed to side-by-side seating, and reconfigured floor plans to reduce congestion in the workplace.

Less Face-to-Face Meetings

There will definitely be a demand for private spaces that can limit the spread of germs. Companies will likely reconsider the types of meeting rooms they want – as well as the situations that merit an actual in-person meeting.

Looks like there will be far less of those “meetings that could have been emails.”

Additional Disinfecting Measures

Additional Disinfecting Measures

Image Credit: Getty Images

In contrast to the other items on this list, these are less visible changes, but they’re significant nonetheless. In a post-COVID 19 world, a grubby workplace could literally be life-threatening, so you can bet on more stringent sanitation measures.

Regular cleaning will probably be more frequent, for instance. Furthermore, expect to see air purifiers in the office as well as antimicrobial fabrics and materials.

Oh, and if you smell something burning on your way out, don’t panic right away. It’s probably just the medical-grade UV sterilisers your company will bring in for a more thorough disinfection once everyone is done for the day.

Hello, Voice Tech

Hello, Voice Tech

Pop quiz! Which surfaces in your office tend to accumulate the most number of germs?

Answer: It’s the ones everyone touches frequently. We’re talking elevator buttons, light switches, door handles, and the like.

Wiping these down with disinfectants each time someone uses them would be next to impossible, not to mention impractical. Hence, the workplace of the very near future will probably rely heavily on voice-activated AI to operate elevators and switch on lights. It might also be prudent to install door sensors to remove the need for gripping handles as well.

Bonus points if your office’s lights can be turned on or off when you clap your hands.

Staggered Attendance

Perhaps the most effective way to prevent widespread contagion is to limit the number of people in an office. Therefore, companies would benefit from bringing in certain teams at specific times. As opposed to packing everyone in from 9 to 5, this arrangement would certainly lessen congestion and reduce the risk of any carriers unwittingly transferring the virus.

This then brings us to….

Normalised WFH Set-Ups

Normalised WFH Set-Ups

Image Credit: theconversation.com

Where would all the other teams be working off-shift, you ask? Easy, at home.

While the work from home movement was always poised to become more widespread, the pandemic has sped up the process. Sheer necessity has simply made it so. How else can you keep the company running when you’re not allowed to converge in one place?

And with so many people embracing and discovering the benefits of remote working, they’re not likely to give this up anytime soon, vaccine or no.

One thing is for sure, however. To ride out this pandemic, we’ll all need to be more creative with our solutions.

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