With the easing of the UK lockdown, we can see the first signals of a return to normality. Like many, you might have adapted to working from home and are asking yourself what role the office will play in your future work life.
In this article, we’ll explore what social distancing in the office will look like and how businesses are committing to creating safe – and inspiring – workplaces. This situation will continue to evolve as we edge closer and closer to normality, and potentially a better way of working together. This period is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on our efforts to create a workspace to be proud of and one that puts the wellbeing of its employees at its heart.
There are still many unknowns. We will continue to work on ensuring our office environments are safe and practical while listening to our customers to deliver a bespoke solution for every company’s needs.
We will be constantly reviewing how to provide safe office spaces while maintaining a space for teams to work together in collaboration. In order to do this, we want to hear from you about your company’s needs and any feedback and ideas you might have.
Private offices and fixed desks
Many London-based companies have previously worked from co-working spaces. Recent measures have meant that we’ve seen an increased demand for private offices, often citing the need to leave a shared workspace to increase the opportunity to observe social distancing measures.
With social distancing in mind, we also expect demand to increase for desks, for businesses that offer staff their own fixed desks. Throughout the years, in order to provide flexible environments, employers had moved towards hotdesking over the more traditional 1-1 desk to person ratio.
Renting a private office is a solution we anticipate businesses opting for, as this allows for employers to have ultimate control of who comes into their space. The benefits of a private office include the ability to arrange the workspace in any way that suits your team and enforce your own cleaning regimes and rules.
Multiple small offices for large companies
Another great solution we’ve seen some larger companies adopt is breaking up teams into smaller groups and setting them up across separate small offices. This decreases the risk of exposure to employees while allowing teams to work together within their departments.
We’ve been witnessing a rise in demand for small private offices in London, often with a requirement for 2-3 offices in the same building. This works well when you can split departments into different spaces but still allow for effortless collaboration.
Reconfigured office layouts for social distancing
We’ve surveyed dozens of companies with offices in London. Almost all of them are looking at reconfiguring their office space layout for social distancing while maintaining a collaborative environment.
We’ve always championed the bespoke approach for each company in our buildings and we’re helping all of our clients arrange their offices and source furniture to ensure a safe office environment that is compliant with social distancing rules.
We are also displaying posters through our buildings to remind teams of the government guidelines and mark the floors and walls to help employees adhere to social distancing measures. This will be particularly handy as a reminder in communal spaces.
Enhanced cleaning and disinfection
We never thought we’d be talking about disinfection when we set up this business, but life certainly took an unexpected turn and it’s now become a crucial element of our serviced offices. Most of us have always expected our offices and work environments to be clean. Now the importance of cleaning and hygiene in the workspace is even greater.
Traditionally, cleaners would be scheduled to work out of hours. We’ve now enhanced this cleaning schedule, to ensure that cleaning takes place in each one of our buildings throughout the day. No matter where you are, it’s important to pay attention to the communal areas and common touchpoints. These areas should be disinfected regularly and be accompanied with hand sanitisers.
We now include hand sanitisers at each building entrance, as well as communal spaces including kitchens, meeting rooms and breakout spaces. This is very much a community effort, so we also leave wipes (in addition to the efforts of our cleaning staff) for individuals to wipe down surfaces they’ve used or plan to use. This not only improves the cleanliness of the workspace it also provides a sense of control to those who may still feel a touch nervous. If we work together on this, we have no doubts that businesses can thrive in their offices again.
Hands free office doors
Kick plates were often used exclusively in busy restaurant kitchens, to allow service staff to open doors while having their hands full. Today’s offices will see the adoption of these handsfree hacks, with kick plates in some buildings as well as foot handles in commonly used doors – to be able to pull the door towards you without using your hands. The more that we can reduce contact with common surfaces, the safer we can keep our teams. Reducing touchpoints combined with the huge impact of regular cleaning with disinfectant can reducing risk.
Staggered work times – Offices with 24/7 access
Another measure we anticipate teams taking is staggering their working hours to avoid peak time journeys and reducing the number of people simultaneously in the office. Many businesses will continue to combine work from home together with work in the office and team members might not come in for full days. To ensure maximum flexibility your office should allow 24/7 for all your staff.
Air quality in offices
There are many studies about the effect of air quality in offices on our health and productivity. If you have the option to open a window in your office, fresh air is always recommended. In some of the buildings HVAC systems are installed and it’s important to check with your office provider that these are maintained regularly with filter replacement. Having clean and well maintained systems and fresh air from outside should ensure good air quality in your office.
Continued communication with your office provider
Covid-19 has highlighted how interconnected and mutually dependent we are. Our communication can only get better at a time when early information is key. While there are measures in place to decrease the risk of shared areas, it is imperative that teams notify building management immediately if there are any cases of individuals falling ill. A speedy response increases the chance of being able to prevent others from becoming ill as a result.
In order for communication to be this quick and efficient, you should expect your office provider to have established procedures for effective escalation and response to issues.
Returning to work in a healthy office environment
Offices bring teams together and provide a sense of mutual motivation and support. The blueprint to how an office layout should appear and how an office should be run will ever evolve with the times. Committing to listening to our clients, improving levels of cleanliness and hygiene, and adapting to the needs of the times can only be positive. The future of our offices is carved by each and every one of us, and with this in mind, we’d love to hear from you. Let us know what would inspire confidence in your return to the office and any predictions you have for the future of office spaces by leaving a comment below.
About Canvas offices
At Canvas, we specialise in flexible offices with bespoke solutions for every company. We can help you design the space to suit your needs and be safe for your team to work in. You’ll find our offices in Shoreditch, Old Street, Mayfair, Dalston and Clerkenwell with new office spaces in Mayfair, Highbury and Islington and Old Street coming soon. For more information about renting offices in London please get in touch.
Canvas offices London