Rakhee Bedi is the Founding Principal at Rakhee Shobhit Design Associates which is a multidisciplinary design firm delivering architecture, interior design and strategic services across India based in Gurgaon. In over more than 15 years, she has successfully designed and executed a diverse range of architectural and interior design projects in distinct fields of architecture. After completing her schooling from Loreto Convent, she followed her passion of creating beautiful spaces with happy memories by pursuing architecture. With a constant quest to learn and evolve with each project equips the practice with the skills necessary to deliver an enduring level of excellence from conception to completion.
The unprecedented wave of Covid-19 has forced people to adopt new ways of working. Workspaces have to reinterpret their design typologies into recreating spaces that cater to the well-being and safety of the employee. The abrupt shift to remote working has now settled as an effective way to communicate and deliver work within the safety of our homes. Thus, it is now of utmost importance for companies to ensure similar safety guidelines and measures in order to build a more robust, more sustainable work environment.
Reintegration of office spaces
The first of many steps that all organizations have to take is to reimagine the workspace. Spatial layouts need to be re-structured—seating arrangements need to be looked at from a social-distancing point of view. Adapting work pods to linear configurations will prove to be effective in communication, while not compromising one’s safety.
In these changing times, companies should grab the opportunity to re-evaluate their work processes, take a step back and merge with the digital culture post-Covid. Designing spaces to be multifunctional can help the overall circulation of the office, thereby optimizing the work dynamic. Conference rooms can be re-envisioned to transform as casual spaces for group discussions during the absence of formal meetings; designing furniture and their placement can aid in the creation of such spaces in an office without taking up any additional space.
As many have found remote working to be more productive and with fewer employees working from the offices, the need for social spaces will be questioned, partly due to budgetary reasons. As designers, it is essential to relook at these spaces and design them as more of an interactive space for meaningful exchanges rather than keeping them as an open area. With offices slowly reopening, it is essential to create social spaces that can accommodate optimum collaboration and interactions, while remaining sufficiently apart from one another. Instead of a single breakout space, nooks and corners can be redesigned for single-use private corners to relax or attend official calls while not being distracted by the surroundings.
A well-planned approach to designing workspaces can ensure a seamless transition from remote to office working and enhancing user experience. Receptions, waiting areas, and cafeteria spaces have to be relooked and designed in an orderly fashion that promises distance between employees and ensures effective communication.
Safety is a prerequisite
Following safety guidelines, measures will have to be installed to ensure a hygienic environment. Pre-sanitization zones can be delineated upon entering the office where people can dis-infect then proceed indoors. Ingress points in office buildings could be channeled through a tunnel that disinfects, before one enters the building. This system could be further engaged individually at a point right before entering the office. UV light disinfectant systems, akin to the metal detectors commonly used at entry points, can facilitate the disinfection process at the entrance of workspaces.
Air filter systems have to be reconfigured on a commercial building level as well as floor-wise. With the contagion being able to spread through proximity, provisioning workspaces with fresh air filter systems may be the way forward. Apart from helping control the office’s internal temperature and reducing air conditioner load, the regular purification of air will restrict the pollutant and germs outside, benefiting the coworkers.
Implementing automation systems such as motion sensors, voice command activated systems, and application-based lighting control can help mitigate the spread of the virus. These kinds of digital systems will also help in a smooth workflow, ensuring seamless communication among peers.