We’ve long seen companies applaud and embrace open concept workspaces. Think about all those “bullpens,” “hot desking,” or multi-use rooms that companies put in their offices.
The creative sectors loved the open concept for the great energy of collaboration and sharing ideas. Other companies saw them as great team-builders. The famous 20th-century architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed the design would democratize the workplace — “Breaking down the walls! Literally and figuratively!”
The COVID-19 Pandemic has flipped the table on open space. There’s simply too much risk for physical contact and potential infection.
This turn of events has people asking whether the open office floor plan is gone forever.
Let’s have a look at where we may be headed regarding open concept offices.
Open Concept was Already Trending Down
Open concept offices were already having a hard time before any of us heard of coronavirus. An April 2020 article in National Geographic magazine said open concept offices were falling out of favour, with employees and managers alike saying they created “distracting and intrusive” work environments.
The Pandemic has pushed for faster change as open concepts are now considered a potential health hazard.
What workspaces were they talking about? There’s never been a standard definition of what makes an open office. We’ve seen every team, organization or workplace organize its space according to its workflow and team needs.
Nevertheless, every workplace — essential, non-essential or casual — will have to adapt to the “new normal.”
Floor Designs will Change
Companies must rethink their floor plans, including:
- Sectioning off floor space
- Arranging desks or workstations with more distance
- Providing adequate personal space
- Limiting traffic in common spaces
- Higher workstations and screens to help isolate individuals
It is not only regarding pandemics but also in allowing employees to have more personal space, access to natural lighting and a quiet environment. Public health researchers will have a role in advising designers on the best practices for distancing.
Space Changes will Change Office Culture
The conversation is not only about the open office and floor plans. Those dramatic shifts will also change the office culture.
While many companies will still value a central place to gather and collaborate, in-person team meetings will probably become less common, and the same with client or manager meetings. People will adapt to new ways of keeping those lines of communication open.
Employee expectations will also change. While employees have always retained the right to request special office equipment for their health needs — stand-up desks for back problems or ventilated rooms for allergy sufferers — such requests will probably become more prevalent in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
No “One-Size-Fits-All” Solutions
Adapting to the situation is crucial for a company’s success.
Companies are working on various solutions, with each developing its unique tactics to meet their goals. There might not be a single solution for all companies as they all have various missions and targets to meet.
Furthermore, these changes take a lot of time and money – and many companies might not be able to afford these major renovations and alterations.
Many companies will probably adopt more remote working arrangements. Shopify employees may never enter a brick-and-mortar workplace again since the company announced it plans to move permanently to a work-from-home model.
Track has taken its own action to increase safety for our employees, customers and partners. They include managing showroom access, continuing to enhance hygiene practices, monitoring and testing both employees and visitors.
For more information, contact Track today.