While there have long been voices of alarm predicting a worldwide pandemic, most of those voices were barely heard through the din of modern life. And for this reason, much of the world was taken by surprise when the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 arrived. Builders and architects have long been designing buildings to withstand 100-year earthquakes, floods and storms, but the need to take into account the possibility of a 100-year pandemic has just been reinforced. Has Covid changed office designs? We better hope so! Here are some ideas on how to mitigate the damage that can be caused by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
It’s long been known that offices with poor ventilation result in lower productivity due to an increase in sick employees. The role of ventilation in reducing “sick building syndrome” has been addressed long before we found ourselves in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Any disease or infection transmitted through the air can be limited by better ventilation. This means more windows allowing the introduction of outdoor air, improved HVAC systems and the use of more effective air filters. Tightly sealed buildings may be replaced in the future by those with better access to outdoor air.
While it’s currently thought that the Coronavirus is mainly spread through the air, it and other viruses and bacteria can often be transmitted through common contact points. And while the world has recently been moving towards more contactless approaches to doors, lighting and other commonly touched spots, Covid is changing office designs towards contactless much more quickly.
The need for handwashing has been forcefully recommended before we even understood what Covid was or how it worked. This has caused the architects and builders of the offices of the future to reconsider the placement of handwashing stations. It’s possible that having sinks only in the bathrooms is not enough. Handwashing stations placed throughout the offices of the future might become as common as the desk.
Hybrid Work Situations
Working from home has never been as popular as it has been since the discovery of the coronavirus. And it doesn’t look like that popularity is going to significantly decrease any time soon. This has caused architects and designers to reassess how the office of the future will work. Flexibility between office and home work is definitely being given far more thought.