Covid-19 work spaces: No more chit-chat around water cooler, gossip in pantry or sharing desk
The pandemic has turned our beds into workstations as most professionals continue to #WorkFromHome. Some offices have reopened with reduced workforce, shift timings and elaborate sanitisation. But now, the architects and interior designers have a new challenge — to redo offices so that social distancing can be maintained.
Many architects feel that Covid-19 will certainly modify many aspects of a workplace. Kissa Zehra, a Delhi-based interior designer, says, “In this ‘new normal’, obvious additions such as more hand sanitiser dispensers, installation of a sanitisation box at the entrance of the building, and restricted employee zones will have to be encouraged. And any sanitisation will have to be as contactless as possible.”
Designing an office that will require minimal interaction and contact will soon be the norm, say experts. “Spaced out desks are being arranged so that employees can sit diagonally to each other, thus maintaining a distance of at least six feet. Many offices are installing translucent partitions between cubicles, and even at the reception, for better physical separation. Also, no more chatting around the water cooler as furniture in pantry or spill out areas could soon be history,” says Somya Agarwal, a Delhi-based interior designer.
Direct contact with communal services will also have to be controlled. “Designs always prioritise on ‘user comfort’ and now, it’s safety that’s the biggest concern. For the materials, workspaces will no longer cater to carpets or carpet tiles or any such surface that can absorb and hold viruses for a longer period. This also means replacing the fingerprinting system of attendance and taking it online, smart voice controlled lifts etc. The focus now needs to be on the functionality than luxury,” adds Neha Bajaj, an independent architect.
Delhi-based architect Khyati Kohli also feels that though #WFH is more popular at present, it can’t replace a classic office set up. “Office spaces will need to change from the typical maximum space utilisation open office model to a more hybrid office plan model, which allows free movement of people with social distancing measures!”
Expecting a major focus on technological upgrades, Kohli adds, “Video conferences and virtual workspaces will have to become available in an affordable manner for everyone to be able to use them with ease.”
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