How to prepare your workplace for a return to the office? 6 things you should reconsider!

Press release 9/29/2021 12:00 PM CET

Since March 2020 we have learned that the Covid-19 is not very predictable. Yet, we can design the workplaces in a way that limits the spread of various infectious viral outbreaks. What’s essential in adjusting offices and maintaining the right balance between health and safety, comfort, sustainability, and privacy rights for office users?

We are wiser after over a year of the pandemic. In the face of this new reality, Skanska has taken steps to outline a way of readjusting the working environment for employees who will return to offices.

– Our efforts were directed at indicating how to create a working environment, which will encourage people to work in offices and at the same time maintain the company culture. Together with our partners we have tried to redefine the future of workplaces and adapt the concept to help respond to their needs. The office of the future will not be just some location that the employees have to go to every day, but a place where they want to be. It will facilitate socializing, sharing experiences, and finding the balance between personal and working life, says Adam Targowski, Environmental Director at Skanska’s commercial development business unit in CEE.

Skanska has developed the “Care for Life Office Concept.” to adapt to the current situation. It was designed with the focus on making employees feel safe when they come back to work. How to design an office where people can work during a pandemic? Here are the recommended solutions for fit-outs that meet pandemic guidelines:

1. An increased amount of focus rooms 

A vital motivator to work in the office is now a quiet workplace, allowing people to concentrate. Working in an enclosed, comfortable space increases productivity. Turn an open space into several focus rooms with different functions. Allow for standing or seated work as well as rest.

2. Amenities in spaces enabling collaboration

According to a Skanska study, people still prefer going to the office. However, in the post-pandemic era, offices will have to offer more than before – they should be better, more comfortable and exciting than what we have at home. Different types of work spaces, such as creative work rooms or remote forms of collaboration, will improve safety and freedom of choice in how to work.  For effective relaxation, create team meeting spaces and inbuilding services, such as coffee shops, games rooms or Pilates classes.

3. Use of meeting rooms during the pandemic

Meeting room capacity should be reduced during the pandemic. Sensors that collect occupancy data make it possible to control the number of participants. Provide more flexibility in the office space. When holding large meetings is not possible in a room, rearrange the open space.

4. Proptech solutions help to optimize space occupancy

Computer simulations increasingly drive tenants to optimize space usage based on statistical probabilities. Sensors, heat maps, and traffic monitoring are areas of proptech that are already supporting tenants in their management decisions. Observe, analyze and schedule traffic in your office.

5. Desk width wider than 1.6 meters

The socially distanced office has reshaped the office furniture. It’s called the Six Feet Office. It is a way of transforming existing offices into places where the six-feet distance rule is obeyed (6ft = 1.83 meters). Provide desks that are at least 1.6 meters wide. This will ensure comfort and make it easier to maintain the necessary social distance. Arrange rows of desks 2 meters apart to keep walkways safe.

6. Suspension of desk-sharing

Desk-sharing is a common solution in flexible offices. However, it should be carefully reviewed, as the workspace should be assigned to only one employee during the day. Thorough disinfection of the workspace is a priority that should be performed every day.

Creating user-orientated workplaces is a challenge for every business. Skanska shares good practices by providing tenants with professional advisory services in office safety. Consequently, the developer actively responds to the client’s current needs or even helps adjust existing and future fit-outs to new safety requirements.

What is Skanska’s “Care for Life Office Concept”?

There’s no healthy workplace without prioritizing employees’ health itself. Both physical and mental. After detailed research, cooperation with experts, and inspired by our previous actions, Skanska keeps creating easy spaces to work in.

The “Care for Life Office Concept” was developed for Skanska buildings in CEE. The developer collaborated with designers, an epidemiologist, an exterior designer, and an architectural studio ARUP to provide the clients with the best-suited workplace solutions. It includes consulting services for tenants and implementing safety protocols and solutions to mitigate the transmission of Covid-19 and/or any other potentially infectious diseases in the future. It consists of 4 areas: air quality, touch-free solutions, social distancing measures, and building management.

- The global remote-working test is now becoming a return-to-the-office exercise and learning new ways of mixed form of  working both in the office and at home. It demands setting up new rules for the offices, but also specific adaptation of our workplaces as business needs continuity. The safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers, partners and communities are Skanska’s top priority and goes hand in hand with one of our core values – Care for Life. An office has three important roles to play: integrating, culture-making and supporting team building. We have created the new offer called Care for Life Office Concept so offices can still fulfill their purpose in the new normal said Katarzyna Zawodna-Bijoch, President and CEO of Skanska commercial development unit in CEE.

More information: https://www.skanska.hu/what-we-do/workplaces/cfl/