I want you to close your eyes for a second.
Are they closed? Alright, imagine this.
Take yourself back to October 2019.
You are casually sitting next to your colleagues in the breakout room talking about the trashy reality TV you have been passively consuming over spring. Everyone in your office is going about their daily tasks without the slightest awareness of hell storm that is about to reign down them over the next 12 months. You finish that $17 salad you purchased at the local cafe and wrap up your conversation and return to your hot desk for an afternoon of preparing your next presentation for the boss (in your dream space – productivity is endless).
Now jump in the time machine. Not sure where it is? I can help you. It is located in the basement next to your end of trip facilities. You know, the area where all the wannabe Tour de France cyclists in your office (you know who you are) shower and change after their mad race to the office each morning.
Now we are not going too far into the future so no need to panic. Type in ‘July 2020’ and hit the big red button (always remember to strap on the seat belt and keep your arms and legs inside the time machine at all times).
Ok, you have arrived.
The office feels a lot quieter, doesn’t it?
You may be wondering where all your colleagues are? Well, chances are most of them are working from the comfort of their own homes. The office numbers have been reduced to accommodate only skeleton staff and essential workers.
This may be a little overwhelming, so feel free to take a seat on the new polyurethane seating in the lobby. Where are the big comfy fabric couches? They now share the same space as the ping pong table in the basement.
Now I know this is a lot to take in so let’s take a minute to explain how we ended up here.
Welcome to the office of the future and welcome to the new ‘normal’.
I know you are going to be a little disappointed that your favourite hang-out areas have been cordoned off and the kitchen area now has a list of rules as long as your arm, but I can assure you, this is all for your safety.
Over the last 6 months, there has been a significant amount of change in our daily lives. Our business practices have been forced to evolve, on pace with our knowledge of epidemiology.
As the business world grapples with the task of getting staff back into work, one innovative company based out of Amsterdam is fast-tracking professionals back into offices across the globe with their unique and innovative ‘6-Feet Office’. The creative team at Cushman & Wakefield has even used their own office space in the heart of Amsterdam to provide businesses with a true representation of how small innovations, can provide businesses globally with a road-map as we begin to enter the recovery phase of COVID-19.
The idea is brilliant in its simplicity and is broken down into 6 key principles.
Whilst many community restrictions will be relaxed over the next few months, social distancing is here to stay.
With some creative signage and flooring design, the 6 Feet Office subconsciously reinforces the concept of social distancing to limit the transmission of viruses.
Dark flooring outlines around desks highlight safe distances for communication between staff, disposable paper desk sheets sit under your technology devices and arrows on the floor indicate the flow of foot traffic around the office to reduce the ‘pinch points’, and eliminating the chance of accidentally running into colleagues as you both race for the printer.
As we begin to accelerate into a new phase there are many questions that still remain unanswered. Will there be a strong exodus of metro based businesses to the suburbs and regional areas to reduce overheads? Will we have more road traffic rather than less? Will our work hours begin to shift to avoid peak hours? These are just a few of the burning questions that must be solved in order for employees to return to the workplace as safe as possible.
Although the answers remain unclear, the response from businesses across the globe to find solutions to these problems and share their ideas, keeps me highly optimistic that the solution to many of these issues lies just around the corner.