In the shadow of Covid - how will we move into the light?

In the shadow of Covid - how will we move into the light?

Covid has without doubt altered the way we work and where, we will no longer use the ‘office’ in the same way. Working remotely has taught us that we can. However we are unlikely to ever give up our working office environment completely. Isolation and connectivity issues make working from home less than ideal as a permanent solution. As and when we do start the return to the new normal, employers are obliged to offer work areas that provide both integration and structure, in conjunction with a feeling of wellbeing, health and safety.

Spaces will be required to introduce natural light and ventilation which is important for mental health as well as including an emphasis on outdoor space. Employers will be expected to invest in workers' mental and physical health. In the wake of the pandemic, social distancing and openness will be top of the agenda. Major features of this global pandemic are fear, uncertainty, and anxiety, all of which have now become workplace issues for both workers and employers alike.

Offices that no longer wish to be labelled a potential health hazard are likely to raise questions about open planned floors. The open plan office will be re-done with more consideration for personal space and levels of hygiene. Covid may be the final straw for this way of housing employees. Open plan is loved by many companies and made popular by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 20th century, the open environment was believed to democratise the workplace by tearing down walls both literal and physical. Many studies since however have shown that fear of infection makes crowded spaces more psychologically stressful. Covid is dictating that we now preserve both our personal space and air.

Outdoor office spaces have been popping up around the globe for years and many businesses should now be questioning whether they should take their offices outside to combine work and nature. Several cities and companies have been exploring this phenomenon, having their workers outdoors in spaces equipped with wireless internet, electrical outlets and desks.

Jerry Tate, an architect and partner with London firm Tate Harmer. “Sometimes it’s best to talk at a meeting table, or a coffee shop – there’s no reason why a fair chunk of that stuff can’t be combined with sitting outside,” he says.

In June 2015, Tate, along with artist Natalie Jeremijenko, created TREExOFFICE, an enclosed outdoor office space built around a tree in London’s Hoxton Square. It was developed to help workers increase their productivity.

There’s extensive research to suggest that being surrounded by nature, whether that’s simply having a view of trees and grass from an office window or having a plant at your desk, can help people during work hours. A Human Spaces Global Report found that workplaces that incorporate natural elements, like greenery and sunlight, are 6% more productive and 15% more creative than offices that don’t. Poor indoor air quality has been linked to a reduction in the ability to concentrate, calculate and memorise.

Tech companies like Spotify and Google have for years created outdoor work areas, with desks and comfortable chairs, for employees. Furthermore, with more research emerging about how bad open-plan offices are for workers, employers are increasingly exploring new ways to keep employees engaged, happy and healthy. In the wake of this pandemic, these working ideas will now become imperative.

Still, having a central place to gather and collaborate in person will likely remain essential to most businesses, and where open offices persist, the spaces with employees packed in like sardines will be scrutinised—which may lead to design changes giving employees more space and flexibility.

Upfit – an adaptive structure by Artform Urban (a Bailey Street Furniture Group company) is the perfect product and a great way to encourage employees to spend more time in the outside areas of work places. The range consists of louvered and slatted fascia, powder coated steel and tempered glass panels, power, seating and shelter. Upfit is relevant, useful & enjoyable.

Using exclusive partnerships with leading manufacturers and design studios on the global furniture stage, plus their own in house manufacturing capabilities, Bailey Street Furniture Group are able to provide world class, exclusive collections of integrated furniture to enhance any external works scheme. They also provide a full and professional consultative service on tailored and bespoke street furniture design, either adapting an existing product in the range or developing street furniture concepts from the outset.

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AMV Playgrounds is part of the Bailey Street Furniture Group a privately owned collection of individual companies serving the construction sector, providing a wide range of street furniture, playground elements and associated services to the public realm, commercial and educational schemes throughout the UK.

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