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30 November 2020

How to future proof your office space for 2021

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Covid sign on office door

As a result of the pandemic, most people are working from home now and remote working has become the norm. But studies suggest that most workers actually prefer a combination of remote and office work.

This means that offices are still important, and they still play a key role in a lot of industries. So, you need to future-proof your office space and ensure that it remains a safe and valuable space for your employees.

Hygiene and cleaning

Cleaning and keeping spaces hygienic have become even more important due to COVID-19. As an employer, it’s your duty to protect your staff and customers from any harm. This means ensuring that the workplace is kept clean and that there are accessible facilities for handwashing and sanitisation to keep the office COVID-secure.

It’s a good idea to put up signage to direct people to areas where they can wash their hands and to remind people to wash their hands more regularly. It’s also advisable to put disinfectant sprays and hand sanitiser gels on desks so that staff has access to them throughout the day. Ideally, offices should have plenty of touch-free solutions throughout the space to minimise the spread of bacteria.

Adding distance

Social distancing is still critical and it’s likely that it will remain in place for some time to come. In order to future-proof your office space and keep employees safe, you need to ensure that desks are properly spaced out to give plenty of distance between staff. This is particularly important in social spaces like kitchens and meeting rooms.

The use of dividers can help with this, keeping everyone safe while also keeping the office practical and functional.

Planning who is in and when

Good planning has become paramount in 2020 and that looks set to remain the case for 2021 as well. Employers need to invest in software that can help them manage staff rotas more effectively to keep the number of people in the office at one time to a minimum.

With this software, you can clearly see who is going to be in the office so that you can tie this in with cleaning rotas. It will also ensure that you can keep every other desk free and provide adequate space to keep everyone safe and suitably distanced.

Break up the space

“Partitions have become increasingly important through the pandemic,” says Mark Hawe of commercial interiors specialists Spacelink “not only do they reduce sound, create space and inject your style into your office, they also provide a natural barrier that is useful in a socially distanced office space”.

One way to partition your office to provide plenty of barriers and protection is to consider cubicles instead of desks. These provide a clear separation of workspace for each member of the team, while also delivering privacy so people can work in peace.

Upgraded technology

Remote work continues to be important and it can be a more practical option for many people. So, in order to make sure your business is prepared for 2021, there needs to be a seamless blend of both.

Luckily, there are plenty of options and digital tools to make it easy for staff to work from home, whether working with colleagues who are based in the office or other remote members of the team.

Zoom video conferencing makes organising and carrying out meetings as easy, while cloud software makes accessing documents and files simple and makes for effective collaboration between teams. It’s also a good idea to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that ensures a fast but secure internet connection and works on any device or operating system.

Final thoughts

Even when life returns to normal after COVID-19, offices need to be proofed against the pandemic to ensure they remain safe, whatever the future holds.

The workplaces of the future won’t have the same rigid systems that we have been used to – they need to adhere to the proper safety precautions to maintain a healthy workplace, while still functioning as an office. The offices of 2021 and beyond need to be flexible and able to adapt to both in-house and remote working in the interest of safety and productivity.

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Gemma Hart

Gemma Hart

Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2013, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts.

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