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.