Office Spaces in the Time of COVID

To say that 2020 has been a challenging year for most of us is an understatement. The Covid-19 pandemic has caught us almost by surprise and instantly changed the way we live and the way we work, forcing many of us to deal with many changes set to be long-term or permanent. In this time of uncertainty, it is best to be prepared to respond to the challenges brought by the pandemic’s disruptions to our day to day living.

Pandemic-Proofing the Office

It then comes as no surprise that providing a safe working environment has become a top priority for companies, and some have taken this opportunity to rethink their current office design.

There are several ways to help achieve a pandemic-proof office space, ranging from minor furniture adjustments to major spatial overhauls.

  • At the personal level, physical barriers between workstations, such as desk partitions, can be added.
  • Existing furniture can also be reconfigured to comply with mandated physical distancing among the staff.
  • If new furniture will be brought in, employees can be provided with new and larger workstations, giving them not only more desk space, but a larger personal bubble that reduces risk of virus transmission.
  • Adding visual aids such as signage and floor markings can influence employees to practice distancing and good hand hygiene.
  • Companies could also use UV lights to sterilise the office at night when the employees have already left the office.
  • Lastly, the most drastic measure is to do a major office renovation, especially for companies who want to do away with the open office concept, preferring instead to transition to contactless meetings and to increase privacy and physical separation among employees.

Rethinking the Concept of an Office Space

Companies whose lease contracts are ending soon should use this time to reconsider the size of their office spaces. If your company is among those whose productivity has not been negatively affected by the work from home policy, downsizing the space may be a good option, especially with the high office rental cost in Singapore. Even before the pandemic, some companies have already been considering flexible work arrangements where employees may alternate between working from home and in the office to boost their morale, and this pandemic could just be the push that they need to finally do it.

Tailor-Fit Solutions for Your Office

At Ampersand, we can help your company even before you have chosen an office space. We recommend providing test-fits to make sure that you will make an informed decision. After selecting the office space and design that will suit your needs best, our designers will continue to work closely with you to ensure that the design is both practical and aesthetically pleasing, as we aim to have only safe distancing for your staff, but an environment that fosters work productivity and good health.

Our in-house Project Manager would then come in and take charge of the project once the design is approved by the client. Even at the end of it, Ampersand can help with the relocation and reinstatement work.

Beyond The Pandemic

Some companies speculate that once the Covid- 19 vaccine is out, things will go back to normal, and therefore, they do not see the need to redesign their offices. However, time has shown us that zoonotic diseases are on the rise, where viruses and germs from animals jump to humans and infect them as well, potentially starting another pandemic. Some past and ongoing examples include Sars, Mers, Ebola, avian flu, swine flu and the Zika virus.

According to a report by United Nations Environment Program, around 60 per cent of all infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic and originate from animals, and on average, one new infectious disease emerges in humans every four months. While we do not know when the next pandemic will happen, this data, coupled with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, should be considered by companies so that they would be adequately prepared for the future.

We at Ampersand are ready to help you with your office redesign. In aiming for the new normal during and beyond the pandemic, we have been strictly implementing safety guidelines for all our employees and workers. Should you need any help with your office redesign, please do not hesitate to contact us, and our team will gladly work with you every step of the way towards a safer office environment.