Designers are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 restrictions. One challenge is creating a collaborative workspace that is suitable for use during the pandemic. In this blog post, we explore creative design solutions that can help to create collaborative spaces that are still compliant with social distancing guidelines.
One article we read suggested a “culture-club layout” suggesting that in fact the office will transform further into a more collaborative environment post-Covid 19, with people only coming to the central office for planned collaborative meetings. The proposal also suggests a radical transformation – with office nodes close to people’s homes and a much larger central meeting area in the existing space.
We offer up some simple practical solutions but what is certain is there is a need to go beyond these suggestions if current attitudes towards commuting to work and health risks remain.
1. Individual office pods
While it may seem counterintuitive to use isolated pods to create collaborative workspaces, individual office pods can be used to enhance collaborative work. In an isolated pod, an employee will be free from noise and visual distractions, allowing them to engage with online collaborative work, such as a group video call, more effectively and efficiently. If multiple employees cannot gather in a room together, individual office pods ensure they can still meet virtually and work without distractions or indeed the pods can act as a barrier while still allowing people to occupy the same space.
2. Hygiene-first designs
If you are creating a collaborative space for employees to meet in person, you should look for large furniture that allows employees to space themselves out. For example, a large meeting table that has twice the capacity requirements of a team so employees can sit with adequate space around them. You should also include details such as LVT or sheet vinyl, which can be easily cleaned and disinfected and consider installing a tap and sink in the meeting room, so employees can wash their hands before and after a collaborative meeting quickly. Multiple taps around an office and sanitiser stations will prevent employees from having to walk to a bathroom to wash their hands, which may be time-consuming. See our blog on designing in hygiene.
3. Moveable furniture
Consider furniture that is easily moveable so employees can create collaborative workstations when allowed, whilst keeping at a safe distance from one another. Stools and fold-up chairs are ideal for quick brainstorming meetings and can be easily transported around an office space. If another peak of the virus occurs, moveable furniture can also be stored away to create even greater space within an office.
We found a very interesting article from Steelcase that talks about why many are missing the office – a key factor is the informal collaborative atmosphere it creates. They argue that many of the design principles from their research pre-Covid-19 on collaborative furniture design still applies.
We work closely with you to find design solutions that incorporate hygiene and social distancing elements as part of your floor scheme. We can offer suggestions from a flooring perspective that help you address the issues associated with collaborative workspaces and Covid-19 environment precautions. Don’t hesitate to contact us on [email protected] or call us on 01592 630030.