Office planners, who design and develop office buildings, are faced with a challenge posed by the pandemic. Once the situation is better and it’s alright to return to the office, how can they convince people that the buildings are healthy and safe to use?
To begin with, planners are expected to prioritise personal health and wellness. There is no doubt about the fact that coronavirus has raised our level of awareness regarding the potential surroundings to serve as breeding grounds for disease or transferable viruses. However, the good news here is that smart design has the capability to decrease the rate of sickness, improve mental function, mood, and outlook.
Below are some solutions that one can opt for to make their office spaces ready for post-pandemic functioning.
1) Rethink the meeting space
The first and immediate solution is to rethink how people congregate in office space. Gathering in a small conference room with poor ventilation will not make people feel safe when they come back. As and when people start to come back, half of them can join the meeting virtually and half of them can use the conference room.
2) Think about the indoor air quality
Technology plays a huge part in instilling trust in the building. With immediate retrofits required in the existing building, we should take measures that can help filter out and destroy bacteria and viruses from the indoor environment. Several mechanical engineers and office architects in Mumbai recommend adding UV lights to air handlers, as it can help purify the air and make the indoor environment a lot safer.
3) Update and display the safety measures
In order to show the people that we are taking health and safety seriously, planners should implement immediate steps that can measure indoor air quality or environmental cleanliness. And, then they should display the information to the people on the elevator, lobby, or even through emails.
4) Install biophilic design elements
Another way of creating an office environment healthiest is by bringing plant life indoors. Now, this can be a part of a broader effort towards adding different elements of nature to the office and is called biophilia. In this system when one incorporates nature or mimics natural systems, they are said to decrease stress, improve creativity, and accelerate recovery from any illness. Furthermore, it can also lead to financial benefits like a reduction in the use of sick days.
5) Incorporate building-wide cleaning protocols
People working in the organization need to be aware of different protocols that building managers or planners are taking to keep the building safe. Make sure to give instructions about when to use hand sanitisers, wash hands, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Even before the coronavirus spread, research by Gensler’s discovered that a major concern raised by several workers was the cleanliness regarding the shared workstations.
6) Floor plan
Rethink the floor plan, so that there is enough room for people for a more hygienic environment. While several companies are thinking of de-densifying their offices in the short term, there might be a more permanent way one can achieve this goal and that is by altering building forms. A fairly obvious solution is to reexamine shared facilities such as the washroom, as it is something that is used by employees throughout the day. One can turn them into door-free entrances just like airport restrooms. By doing that, one can greatly reduce the need to touch foreign substances such as door handles, which can potentially transmit viruses.
The aforementioned are some of the solutions that one can apply while planning to go back to work. One can always reach out to office architects in Mumbai for planning and designing an environment that promotes health and wellness.
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