Paperspace Asia, a Singapore-based workplace design collective, has revealed their findings of its new research that examines the impact of COVID-19 on the future of the workplace. It turns out that the majority (85 percent) of respondents enjoy working from home. However, nearly every employee (97 percent) also agreed that a physical office environment is crucial for connecting effectively with colleagues, although they do not expect to be in the office full-time. One respondent mentioned that, “When we can return, I imagine working from home for three to four days and from the office for one to two days.”
Offices need to adopt new habits and embrace changes that will not only benefit employees-employers safety, but also overall happiness and wellbeing. Yet, with the exposure of COVID-19 still in the air, what measurements should HR and managers take?
Below are five recommendations from Narita Cheah, co-founder and director of Paperspace Asia, to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace as well as encourage employees to collaborate better amidst the predicament.
Incorporating design elements in phases that will meet new guidelines and purpose of the office. Relooking at the layout of the workplace to include more open spaces, atriums, shared workspaces in common areas, staircases with seating, and outdoor workspaces can help to create an environment that encourages people to work together but at a safe distance. Also consider locating desirable amenities in diverse locations, and facilitating “casual collisions” throughout the workday to promote teamwork and increased collaboration.
A wristband or tag system gives employees the option to select a coloured band that can inform people of their personal safety space wishes, for example red tag in the office to use amenities but is not open to any physical interaction, yellow colour to open to one-to-one discussions, and green to open to group meetings . This would communicate, in an intuitive manner, the norms of behaviour in different areas.
Playful and uplifting graphics in the workspace that reinforce social distancing guidelines with a sense of humour that help to create a positive and pleasant work environment. Inject your corporate culture into the look and feel of all tools of engagement.
Meeting spaces with plastic screens separating different teams to facilitate team-to-team interaction (which has suffered during Zoom meetings according to our research) so that there is greater distancing and reduced contact during these meetings
Disciplined, fixed hours for teams to come into the office, with restrictions on where each team is able to access, with full sanitisation of the space in between different teams exiting and entering, not unlike what you see in a gym.