Workspace interior decor tips: Spatial changes that can aid human interaction
Given that we clock up nearly two-thirds of a day at work, the design of workspaces should address concerns of adequate lighting and ventilation, prerequisites for employee well-being. Check out these tips by interior decor experts on spatial changes in workplace that can aid human interaction
Covid-19 has certainly forced us to reassess how we live and work and to mitigate similar disruptions in the future, we’ll need to rapidly adapt to a new way with borrowed wisdom from the past, which brings us to an important question - after the pandemic, what spatial changes in workspaces can aid human interaction? Given that we clock up nearly two-thirds of a day at work, the design of workspaces should fundamentally address concerns of adequate lighting and ventilation, prerequisites for employee well-being.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, SidharthaTalwar, Principal at Studio Lotus, opined, “Before conventional air-conditioning became popular in India, buildings were designed to optimise cross-ventilation and penetration of daylight through simple design mechanisms such as operable windows, shallow floor plates, and jaalis. In light of the pandemic, we need to return to this model to ensure improved natural air exchange in conjunction with the pumping of fresh air through the interiors to lower the possibility of virus spread. Additionally, the incorporation of skylights and clerestory windows and controlled ventilation using louvers can also help reduce the buildings’ energy requirements."
He added, “Predicating the design of spaces on employees' health and well-being through courtyards, day-lit spill-outs and breakout zones such as terraces will negate the need for retrofitting, while also providing opportunities for human interaction. Functionally, the 21st-century office can be purpose-built to suit the specific requirements of an organization. It must also encourage social interaction—through spill-outs, common areas, and breakout zones—to create and foster a sense of community and belonging among the workforce. How an office is structured and operated can have a direct consequence on organisational culture. It is crucial for designers to interpret a company’s structure, ethos, and culture it seeks to nurture in order that the workplace is representative of those values. In the information age, rigid planning predicated on workplace hierarchies and obsolete social structures need to give way to layouts promoting agility and flexibility for better collaboration and cross-learning. The workplace of the future needs to evolve continuously—to attract and retain employees and accommodate their aspirations and be resilient to shocks similar to the one we are witnessing today.”
Asserting that health and safety are very important in design, Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect at Architecture Discipline, shared, “There is a need to design our workspaces for longevity, and a part of that entails prioritizing health. Post the pandemic, workplaces have begun to place a larger importance on employee well-being. This can be done in multiple ways. Well-lit, well-serviced spaces with access to pleasant vistas help users think clearly and work efficiently. Open, landscaped spill-out spaces can serve as a great way to aid interaction while also bringing in a sense of calmness and relief in a workspace.”
Office buildings are one of the most crucial spaces that affect our physical and psychological wellness since a person spends most of their time in their work environment even when post-pandemic, people have adapted to more flexible work styles in various ways and there is more flexibility in terms of working hours with people embracing work from home on a regular basis. So, the idea of a fixed workspace for each employee is slowly transforming into flexible seating, wherein it is a plug and play kind of a system; anybody can sit on any seat and perform their work and people are not restricted to their particular workstation.
Though the work has become more collaborative in the present time, Mitu Mathur, Director, GPM Architects and Planners, feels that at the same time, professionals are all virtually connected so, offices must be designed with a lot of small cubicles where people can hold meetings on different media platforms instead of having a physical meeting of 5-6 people together in a conference room. She said, “An understanding of the human mindset post-pandemic is necessary to create healthy and cohesive spaces that can induce productivity, collaboration and creativity. Spaces that help people network while offering them the required space for social distancing are the need of the hour.”
She revealed, “Large-scale corporate office complexes with column-free spaces offer us a chance to introduce flexibility into the design. We must also design workspaces to provide more area per person, but it does not have to be in a cubicle format. The configurations can vary — pinwheel pattern, curvilinear pattern, etc. — to avoid face to face interactions. An efficient design of structural grid and functional modules of built forms allow for an open floor plan that can be freely transformed as per need. Designing a modular and standardised structure creates the provision for further extension. Using light-weight and movable partitions, instead of fixed cubicles, that can be easily reconfigured can facilitate easy change of layout in the future.”
Encouraging to introduce greens in workspaces as they can aid human health and wellness, Mitu Mathur said, “For instance, to get the desired indoor air quality and a bacteria-free environment, office spaces today incorporate indoor plants and moss walls and utilise refuge areas as green spaces. Today, with the constantly changing future needs, there is anticipation of how building spaces will be designed. With innovations and increasing levels of comfort, transformation in living and working has become very common. Hence, buildings should be designed to adapt, evolve and change with time. Architects have to account for the future of workspaces, and all aspects of adaptability and flexibility have to be imbibed within the design philosophy.”
Dakshayani Sheth, Regional Head – Edifice Consultants at Pune, advised, “By creating design that is on-the-go, flexible and works with the needs of the users, we can help people connect their old and the new worlds seamlessly. Keeping it flexible for multiple outcomes, programming spaces for multiple uses, keeping them easily reconfigurable, scalable and sustainable. These are some of the larger approaches we are adopting in the workspace design. While the world waits for natural immunity to kick in or vaccines to boost it, the responsibility falls on us, designers of physical spaces, to facilitate human interaction with minimal risks and maximum engagement. We must reassure them without compromise, distance them without isolation and protect without seclusion.”