All Posts By

admin

Office space renovations as a post-pandemic necessity

By Blog

What are the vital changes that need to be implemented, due to Covid-19,  for company offices to safely receive back their employees? 

 

One of the elements that the pandemic has admittedly highlighted is that much of the office activity can be transferred home just as effectively. And indeed, few feel “nostalgic” to return to the daily traffic jam that accompanies our commute to work. 

However, the consolidation of work from home in our lives highlighted, at the same time, its apparent limitations. Proving that an organization’s success still depends on face-to-face cooperation between its members, with the office remaining a necessary core of any critical activity. 

This finding concerns the office as a concept. As a matter of reality, the office will never – after the end of the pandemic – return to the same form and layout that it had before. Several companies abroad have already understood it, immediately making the necessary adjustments and renovations to achieve the new functionality at the dawn of the new regularity we are going through. 

Another paradox is that while the pandemic in the short term will theoretically lead to a reduction in the necessary square meters needed for a company to operate since part of its staff will be on permanent work from home status, in the long run, its needs for additional space will be more significant to meet the new health guidelines. 

In both cases, the renovation of the business premises becomes a one-way street and an urgent priority. With business leaders called upon to find the solution to the intractable equation of what they need to do to make the most of their space and their employees’ time. Obviously, each space is unique, and each business has its own needs, which you must consider when planning the renovation. Those standard features that emerge are the following: 

Flexible working environment

Considering that in the future, a large portion of the staff may work from home on certain days, companies should take into account in their plans that any given space at their disposal may not be filled with the same people at the same time. Hence it is necessary to invest in hotdesking , devoting specific work desks to the people who will take turns in them. Equipping them, also, technologically with the ability to have easy access to shared files and everything else they need for their smooth operation. 

Remodelling meeting rooms

The era of large and luxurious meeting rooms, in which it was possible to gather most employees, seems to be over. According to the relevant research, those spaces, which were rarely used effectively anyway, will give way to smaller meeting rooms with brainstorming multi-purpose logic that, depending on the requirements, can be used either for meetings or as supplementary work desks. 

 

Open Space Offices

Except for the company’s critical staff (president and senior executives), for whom the need for a closed personal office continues to apply, all other offices are likely to fit into the broader open space philosophy. Either in the same logic, we knew all these years or with the addition of phone booths (small personal offices from Plexiglass in the shape of enlarged telephone booths). A necessary condition for each office is to have the required distance from the other, both for health and purely psychological reasons. Something that was not currently the case with companies – for financial reasons – tending to place one office next to the other. 

Ventilation

Excellent and frequent workplace ventilation is now and will continue to be a key priority for any business in the coming years. In terms of renovation, it translates into full utilization of the windows that each space has and the removal of spaces and offices that do not have access to it, with the possible exception of specialized isolation areas for those employees who may show symptoms of illness. 

 

The only certain thing is that the office of 2025 will have nothing to do with that of 2020. And that only those organizations that realize it and take the relevant measures will emerge victorious. 

Why people still prefer to work from the office

By Blog

In the new hybrid era emerging, the office maintains its fundamental value in terms of the workplace model that will prevail. As long as it is flexible and efficient. 

The same digital transformation that has allowed many companies to survive the pandemic is the one that will help them enter the realm of the hybrid workplace model that is clearly going to prevail. 

An “experimental” model in which each entrepreneur will be asked to decide what suits the needs of his own business and what helps his employees be more productive. On the other hand of the same equation, for the first time in history, more employees than ever will have the option of working from home (with all the advantages and disadvantages that it entails).  

If there is one thing sure in the midst of the ocean of uncertainty that we all face, it is that we will never go back to the concept of work and office the way we knew before the pandemic. The sooner we realize this, the faster we will recognize and take advantage of these increased mobility opportunities. 

 Although it is too hasty to draw reliable conclusions, the preliminary international surveys reveal that people still prefer to work in the office, although they now have other options. Just with more autonomy and flexibility than before. The main reasons for this are: 

 

Creating a climate of cooperation

The existence and diffusion of corporate culture and philosophy, which has been proven to positively affect the overall business performance, creativity and cohesion of a team, is obviously more manageable with the office at the core of corporate activities. An atmosphere of cooperation and enhancement of employees’ personal development is easier to create when employees of all levels coexist in the same -specially designed- open space (and especially in public areas, the value of which stands out even more). No matter how many days a week, these employees choose to use the office.

Separation of professional and personal space

If anything, the pandemic has proven to us is the difficulty of working from home. Especially when this happens simultaneously with the rest of the family (spouses, children). Even if you were one of the lucky ones who already had a home office (or went through the renovation process to achieve it), you would find that personal and work-life limits were non-existent. According to dozens of psychological researchers, this enhances the feeling of stress that we feel by the simultaneous and mandatory management of all relevant obligations. Having a workplace like an office boosts concentration and productivity, even if we choose not to use it permanently as before.

Possibility of interaction

Sometimes you need to lose something to appreciate its value. This is precisely what is happening right now with the so-called “lost time” before a meeting starts and the five-minute unexpected encounters in the hallway or in the kitchen where employees could talk about the TV series they saw last night or a detail about a project that one member did not know. These valuable dozens of small interactions, which helped build trust in a way that is not possible through zoom, ultimately prove to be the reason why even companies that – organizationally and technologically – do not need it are expected to choose for their employees to coexist in the office a few days a week. It makes it even more necessary to redesign these spaces to meet the new health protocols and enhance creativity by creating many small multipurpose meeting & brainstorming rooms.

Increase productivity 

It is true that, in the short term, working from home boosts productivity as in-house workers end up working longer hours and, virtually, with no precise hours. However, in the long run, the non-existence of a specially designed- office, as a meeting place and coexistence hub of the team, ends up steadily decreasing productivity. Employees start to feel like outside partners, rather than organic parts of the group, showing signs of psychological fatigue from diffusing the boundaries between their personal and work lives. 

How interior design can boost productivity in open space office layout

By Blog

The open space layout continues to be, even in the post-Covid 19 reality, the most suitable choice for boosting productivity and creativity. All that is needed are some critical changes. 

 

One of the most heated debates of our time is whether the popular open-space office layout, a trend started by Silicon Valley tech companies in the early 1990s to boost productivity and collaboration, will carry on and in the post-pandemic reality. 

Or if, as the most pessimistic experts insist, the need for safer working conditions when (and if) teleworkers return to their old working stations will lead us back to a more traditional layout, with Plexiglas dividers or other corresponding materials called upon to erect “walls” between workers. 

The reality is that in addition to the apparent changes, from a health point of view, such as masks, antiseptics on the desks, thorough cleaning of the air conditioners, adequate natural ventilation of the spaces with open windows and sufficient distance between the desks, some structural changes are required for the workplaces to continue to be centres of creativity but also security. 

The death of the meeting room 

The vast meeting rooms are the only sure “victim”, in terms of architectural layout, of the pandemic. As it is more a prestige choice than that of substance, and given that the post-pandemic reality imposes smaller and more versatile spaces, which favour cooperation and can – if necessary – be used as additional working stations or a place for video calls with customers, the creation of many small meeting rooms should be considered mandatory. Here, interior decoration plays a vital role as each meeting room must have a strategic position within the open space layout and its own distinct personality that will subconsciously dictate its final use.

Increase / introduce community areas

Given that the consolidation of teleworking means that all and fewer employees will be in the office simultaneously, those who come and whatever days they come must use it to interact effectively with the other team members and exchange ideas and views. This can not be achieved in huge, lifeless meeting rooms but in specially designed common areas, ideally placed near the windows, which leave you with the feeling of small living rooms. After all, the placement of common areas where there is natural light and the relocation of personal offices inside is one of the most crucial changes in open offices’ philosophy for the coming years

The return of phone booths 

We are obviously not referring to those who existed on the streets before the predominance of mobile phones, but special personal offices of the latest generation, made of plexiglass and equipped with their own air conditioning, soundproofing and adequate outlets for all devices, which are strategically placed within the open space layout. These are essentially individual cocoons that allow the employee to work seamlessly and safely. Keeping in touch, however, with the rest of the team. An option that comes to work in addition to creating warm public spaces and enhance their utilization. 

Creating a Thinking tank / Dream Room 

It does not matter if you are a start-up or a law firm. The only thing for sure is that no matter what kind of business you are in, you need a thinking tank/dream room in the office, even if this sounds out of place at the moment. It is a specially designed and decorated space that is the exact opposite of a meeting room. You do not enter it carrying dossiers and notes but in a lighter mood to discuss strategy and big picture issues that usually come second as you try to face the immediate challenges of everyday life. It is the crown of community spaces that has proven to contribute decisively to creativity.