August 23, 2022

New Work - Offices after COVID-19 what changes?

Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 and the restrictions that come with it have not only determined our private lives, but above all our everyday working lives. Home office and the long-desired and now achieved work-life balance are topics everywhere - but what will actually happen after the pandemic? What will office furnishings look like after Corona? Which concepts do interior designers have to include in their office planning considerations in order to comply with hygiene standards and distance regulations?

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Besides general life issues such as mindfulness and work-life balance, working conditions in particular have changed fundamentally for most of us since Corona. Home office options and flexible working time models have gradually been implemented, especially in larger companies. But what do everyday life and office furnishings actually look like after the Corona pandemic? What fundamental changes will interior designers, office furnishers, employers as well as employees have to prepare for in the future? What innovations will there be in the design of office furniture and in the creation of office concepts? How will one deal with the new hygiene standards and distance rules and still manage to create an attractive office culture within the framework of the New Way of Working?

New ways of working: Office planning after Corona

Since COVID-19 broke out, we have learned that digital working works very well. What previously seemed unthinkable in some companies has become commonplace: Remote work will continue to exist, especially in internet companies. A move away from the traditional office concept, where only physical presence at the workplace counts, is already well advanced.

Information exchange and collaboration work flawlessly thanks to digital tools like asana and video conferencing via Zoom or Hangouts. Meanwhile, we are all setting up our home offices and investing in ergonomic desk chairs and multifunctional desks.

The only thing we miss from time to time is the human factor. Some more, others less. And indeed, this is not a purely emotional component that is part of fulfilling work for some.

In the "post-Corona offices", this social aspect, this shared place in reality, absolutely has to exist. Because: the office is a space for meetings and personal exchange, which is just as important for our work as the concentrated processing of tasks. So there will be no turning away from shared offices in everyday office life after Corona.

Instead, the quality of interaction, which is only achieved to a limited extent via video chats, will become more important. Home office and mobile work will only be part of the new way of working.

Regardless of whether it's a conservative administrative job or a new type of position in a start-up: we will have the choice between home office and working in the office, which will be oriented towards the new standards with distance and hygiene rules in office furnishing and design.

In the "post-Corona office", it will be just as possible to work in a concentrated manner and give free rein to one's creativity as it will be to work together in a team and meet each other - even away from a purely professional environment.

CREDITS: Narbutas
CREDITS: Narbutas

1. Office planning with new floor plan

Until the beginning of 2020, the trend was still towards open office spaces with shared desk areas with the aim of increasing communication and efficiency.

In the COVID-19 office, this approach will tend to reverse. Whereas until recently 11 sqm were included per workstation, in office planning according to Corona, with flexible alternative areas, the figure is a full 22 sqm. This means that, theoretically, new workplaces will have to be created for half the workforce.

The good news now is that the need for basic workstations and meeting rooms is reduced due to home office and video conferencing. Instead, focus zones, co-creation and communal areas are coming to the forefront of the New Way of Working.

In this context, focus zones for concentrated work in the "post-corona office" will be more important than ever, because not everyone can find a place of retreat at home where they can be absolutely undisturbed. At the same time, areas for creative teamwork will continue to gain in relevance, as this form of collaboration takes place best in real, specially designed rooms.

And thirdly, more space will have to be given to shared areas that create identity. Because when most people work from home, the desire for a "professional home" is all the stronger when they finally come to the office.

In concrete terms, this means on the one hand that office designers will have to restructure multi-space areas for groups under the premises of the new distance rules and hygiene standards. On the other hand, think tanks and so-called telephone boxes for maximum concentration will be part of the office furnishings.

A new feature of private retreats is that office planning must take care to include them on the façade to ensure the possibility of regular ventilation.

In addition, employers and companies will consider working models with shift work: Dividing employees into groups so that they are in the office at different times is one option, in addition to home office, to address the increased space requirements.

2. "Post-Corona Offices" & Walkways

According to Corona, the creation of walk concepts with defined walkways will not only be part of office planning in large companies. As we already know from the retail sector, Corona says that in offices, walking concepts will be created for corridors and all multispace areas in order to create distances between employees. Visual elements such as differently designed floors (e.g. different coloured carpets, furnishing with different floor coverings) or walls (different wall colours or wall designs) visually divide the office space and designate flexible alternative areas. This subtly internalises spacing rules and more clearly demarcates different office areas.

Another plus point: a varied design of walls and floors is used as a design element, making the entire office appear more dynamic, which in turn has a positive effect on motivation and creativity.

CREDIT: Buzzi Space
CREDIT: Buzzi Space
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