The healthcare crisis caused by Covid-19 has left its mark on the way we interact, socialise and work. We must now get used to contact with colleagues being solely visual and from a safe distance, but this doesn't necessarily mean that we can no longer work as a team, sharing inspirational spaces and dreaming together.
The Cool Working philosophy by Actiu came to the workplace to stay, but, just like everything else, it needs to adapt to the new situation. It is proven that a working method based on collaboration increases team productivity in comparison with outdated organisational hierarchies. But how can we maintain this collaboration and interaction at a time when the primary personal safety measure concerns distancing?
Cool Working defines five types of spaces in the workplace: for concentration, collaboration, socialising, learning and privacy. This "new normal", the representation and the fittings in these spaces will depend on the analysis of the corporate objectives, the company culture or the type of interactions, which will encourage productivity, as well as other aspects in order to guarantee safety such as crowd density or distance, among others.
In any case, a design that is able to evolve with the people and the needs of the business at all times is required. That's why Actiu has created the "How to adapt a workspace in light of Covid-19" guide, offering a series of practical recommendations to help you get back to a new normal, whilst ensuring the health of the workforce.
Whilst before the crisis, there was a tendency to reduce individual workspaces to a minimum and to replace personal archives with communal lockers, for example, now it is advisable to restrict each individual space, giving each person an area measuring 22 square metres in comparison with the 11 square metres that were recommended up until now, whilst equipping each station with personal storage solutions like modular cabinets, mobile bucks or the One Time units. It is also advisable to use communal benches or desks like the Vital Plus or Prisma as isolated, individual work stations that allow for the necessary minimum distancing to be adhered to.
In order to ensure that colleagues are kept physically separate from one another, physical safety barriers can also be placed to the front and sides between the stations.
The aim is to reduce density and to do so, measures must be proposed like encouraging remote working, teamwork shifts, or staggering the number of employees returning to work.
Avoiding moving around the workspace wherever possible is another aspect that should be taken into account, which includes placing the things that each worker is going to need throughout their day, such as hygiene points, close to their work station.
Working individually is only one part of a well-spent working day based on the Cool Working methodology. Places for concentrating are supplemented with other spaces devised to encourage collaboration. These are open and closed meeting areas, and small spots around the space for meeting up and debating with colleagues. Choosing mobile options is interesting, like stackable chairs and foldable desks, so that space can be reconfigured to meet any needs that may arise.
Although these spaces and the furniture pieces associated with them will continue to exist, the way we use and interact with them is going to change. It is important that people become aware of how to use these communal spaces properly, that usage time is short, and that open rooms are opted for, reducing density and using technology and screens to minimise the presence of people at meetings. To do this, workers could attend remotely, or from another end of the office.
The aim is to keep being a team, despite the barriers or the distance, by redesigning a working environment that adapts to the new safety conditions but does not forego the productivity and efficiency necessary to overcome this situation.
ACTIU Berbegal y Formas S.A. (hereafter ACTIU) is an Spanish public limited company who has the domain name of "www.actiu.com" and "www.actiu.es" registered in the Companies House of Alicante::
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