How to navigate the post-pandemic workplace scenario Insider tips for managers in an uncertain world

A lot has changed in the workplace since March 2020.

The obvious difference, with many people continuing to work from home, is that workplaces all over the UK are much emptier. This is obviously beneficial for those working in corporate offices as social distancing will be easier to maintain.

However, as we slowly ease out of lockdown and more people return to their collective workplaces it is highly likely we will see a big change – and not just a temporary one.

 

Amazing workplaces we have designed and fitted 1) CCP in Leeds 2) Mayborn Group in Newcastle

The hybrid Office

We are unlikely to return to our previous interior surroundings at work. Instead we will be evolving into a new environment that must introduce new strategies, adopt new protocols, and integrate new, experimental technologies.

Many people will continue to work from home or combine both “office” and home-working. As a result, businesses need to ensure that staff have access to suitable equipment, technology and furniture that will enable them to work productively.

At Ben Johnson Interiors we believe there will be a continued mix of home and office-based working over the next few years where elements of home and work in each place will merge.

The elements of collaboration and teamwork considered so important in today’s workplace will have to adopt an accepted procedure to accommodate both virtual and in-person engagement.

 

1) Our corporate workplace for Mott MacDonald 2) Home office with KIT foldable desk from Allermuir

Working from home – responsibilities for employers

Employers must now take an interest in the care and wellbeing of their people outside of the workplace and the home office is an additional corporate responsibility.

According to Personnel Today magazine, at the end of the first two weeks of lockdown, more than half of the 500 people who responded to an Institute of Employment Studies homeworking wellbeing survey reported experiencing new aches and pains: 58% complained of neck pain, 56% experienced shoulder pain and 55% had experienced back pain.

Now the conciliation service Acas and union body the TUC have both urged employers to protect the health and safety of workers who are working from home.

As it looks like it may be months or even years before a suitable vaccination becomes available, longer term measures both for both home and office working may need to be put in place.

With the increased responsibility that employers now have for the health and safety of employees working from home, many workplace furniture manufacturers have brought out dedicated ranges for home working.

The “Allermuir At Home” range now offers a range of popular home office furniture on short lead times. These include stylish compact desks, task chairs and light weight storage solutions in numerous finishes, colours, and materials, as well as office accessories such as monitor arms and roam stools. This range allows you to create a practical, ergonomic workspace that sits seamlessly with the styling of an existing setting.

 

Furniture from the Allermuir at Home range

Sedus also have a great home office range. Their Sedus Home Office Selection is designed to support optimal working posture and prevent postural problems – easily caused by working from your sofa or kitchen chair. In addition to the ergonomics, the timeless, high quality of the furniture will enhance any room. Whether you are standing or sitting at your desk, the compact “Se:Fit” perch stool encourages movement and facilitates agile sitting and leaning. It is height-adjustable and can easily be carried around in one hand.

 

1) Sedus “Se:Fit” perch stool and secretaire home desk 2) Sedus “On-spot” chair and desk

For more details on Allermuir at Home, Sedus Home Office and other good quality, home office furniture suppliers, please contact us at Ben Johnson Interiors on 03333 449 249 or email interiors@benjohnson.co.uk

Working from a corporate office – solutions for employers

Whether you are working at home or in the official workplace or both, there is now hugely increased focus on health and safety within interior settings. It seems the beleaguered employer is unable to escape the increased responsibilities and expense that the pandemic has delivered.

For the last few months, Ben Johnson Interiors has been helping organisations adapt their workplace interiors for safer post-covid working with new signage, floor markings, desk guards, free-standing floor screens and hand sanitizer stations. All these can be sourced relatively inexpensively and quickly fitted by us.

Many of the office suppliers we work with have brought out excellent new ranges for the post-COVID workspace. Spacestor has launched “Portals” a flexible family of productive spaces designed for employee choice through a variety of individual working booths for one person https://spacestor.com/products/booths/portals/

Meetings and collaboration have been helped enormously by free, home working technologies such as Zoom (Zoom reported a daily rise in meeting participants from 10 million in December 2019 to 300 million by March 2020) and Microsoft Teams has more than tripled the number of daily active users since late 2019.

 

Indoor and outdoor freestanding screens from Protocol and private workplace booths from Spacestor

How technology can support the post-COVID workplace

On a longer term scale, it is beginning to look like this heightened awareness of health and safety may last into the foreseeable future and “smart” buildings are becoming far more prevalent. Although office workers are now practising social distancing, this behavioural change alone is not a failsafe remedy for virus transmission. The corporate workplace will still be accommodating many employees and a smart building can help ensure the interior environment is up to hygiene standards in a post-COVID world.

To avoid people touching surfaces and to save time and unnecessary contact, smart offices use automated processes to enhance buildings operations, from air conditioning and heating, through to lighting and security.

The use of this technology and sensors means workers will know where in the office is currently best for ‘quiet’ work, or when to avoid peak lift traffic, or where to locate colleagues, allocate workspaces or even car parking spaces based on the person’s itinerary and preferences.

Many commonly-used workplace apps already support basic admin tasks such as booking meeting rooms and finding available hot desk space – but these functions are now being developed further to incorporate new functions imposed by the pandemic.

It is important for the different business departments and different tasks, from room bookings to logging workplace facilities requests to be fully integrated. This alignment is even more critical in the post-pandemic environment as seamless digital integration will be expected to support employees in the office and those working remotely.

Facial recognition – although controversial – is a touch-free option that is now being used more often in commercial and residential buildings around the world. Longer-term, companies may adapt this technology if the pandemic makes facial recognition technology more widely accepted.

As well as the touch-free element of facial recognition, there is growing demand to not only keep employees safe but to keep buildings as secure as possible. This controversial technology offers a quick and seamless way to verify who is coming in and out of the building.

 

Examples of smart office sensors and facial recognition technology

Other touch-free biometric scanners such as palm or even vein recognition are likely to be more fully explored over the next few months.

Most of us are familiar with home-based voice-recognition technology like Alexa and Siri and we expect to see these technologies to enter our workplace soon. It will only be a matter of time before we can book meeting rooms or control the lights with our voice.


If you would like further information on any of the above workplace innovations or wish to find out how Ben Johnson Interiors could help you, please contact us on 03333 449 249