How to prepare your workplace for a return to the office? 6 things you should consider!

Press release 9/28/2021 8:00 AM CET

Since March 2020 we have learned that the Covid-19 is not very predictable. Yet, we can design workplaces in a way that limits the spread of various infectious viral outbreaks.  What’s essential in adjusting offices and maintaining the right balance between health and safety, comfort, sustainability, and privacy rights for office users?

We are wiser after over a year of the pandemic. In the face of this new reality, Skanska has taken steps to outline a way of readjusting the working environment for employees who will return to offices by implementing the „Care for Life Office Concept”.

Our efforts were directed at indicating how to create a working environment, which will encourage people to work in offices and at the same time maintain the company culture. Together with our partners, we have tried to redefine the future of workplaces and adapt the concept to help respond to their needs. The office of the future will not be just some location that the employees have to go to every day, but a place where they themselves want to be. It will facilitate socializing, sharing experiences, and finding the balance between personal and working life”, says Adam Targowski, Environmental Director at Skanska’s commercial development business unit in CEE.

To adapt to the current situation, Skanska has developed the “Care for Life Office Concept”. It was designed with the focus on making employees feel safe when they come back to work. How to design an office where people can work during a pandemic? Here are the recommended solutions for fit-outs that meet pandemic guidelines:

 1. An increased amount of focus rooms

 A vital motivator to work in the office is now a quiet workplace, allowing people to concentrate. Working in an enclosed, comfortable space increases productivity. Turn an open space into several focus rooms with different functions. Allow for standing or seated work as well as rest.

 2. Amenities in spaces enabling collaboration

According to a Skanska study, people still prefer going to the office. However, in the post-pandemic era, offices will have to offer more than before – they should be better, more comfortable and exciting than what we have at home.

Office spaces and meeting rooms will continue to encourage collaboration and socialization but will be adapted to the new rules, increasing employee safety.

For effective relaxation, it is recommended to provide safe spaces that allow team socializing and creative sessions, but also in building services such as cafes or lunch places. Skanska's research shows that, especially for Romanian employees, green spaces and the possibility of working outdoors are important.

3. The safe use of conference rooms

Meeting room capacity should be reduced during the pandemic. Sensors that collect occupancy data make it possible to control the number of participants. Provide more flexibility in the office space. When holding large meetings is not possible in a room, rearrange the open space.

4. Use of proptech solutions to optimize space occupancy

Computer simulations increasingly drive tenants to optimize space usage based on statistical probabilities. Sensors, heat maps, and traffic monitoring are areas of proptech that are already supporting tenants in their management decisions. Observe, analyze and schedule traffic in your office.

5. The „Six Feet Office layout”

The socially distanced office has reshaped office furniture. The new safety measures recommend transforming the existing desks into desks that comply with the "Six Feet Office" rule, meaning to ensure a distance of 6ft. (1.83 meters) between all the employees, at any time. It is recommended to place the desks so that the distance between the employees is at least 1.6 meters.

The rows of desks will be placed at a distance of 2 meters away from each other in order to keep the walkways safe.

6. Suspension of desk-sharing

Desk-sharing is a common solution in flexible offices. However, it should be carefully reviewed, as the workspace should be assigned to only one employee during the day. Thorough disinfection of the workspace is a priority that should be performed every day.

Creating user-orientated workplaces is a challenge for every business. Skanska shares good practices by providing tenants with professional advisory services in office safety. Consequently, the developer actively responds to the client’s current needs or even helps adjust existing and future fit-outs to new safety requirements.  

What is Skanska’s „Care for Life Office Concept”?

There’s no healthy workplace without prioritizing employees’ health itself. Both physical and mental. After detailed research, cooperation with experts and inspired by our previous actions, Skanska keeps creating spaces that are easy to work in.

The “Care for Life Office Concept” was developed for Skanska buildings in CEE. The developer collaborated with external experts – designers, an epidemiologist, an exterior designer, and architectural studio ARUP to provide clients with the best-suited workplace solutions. It includes consulting services for tenants and implementing safety protocols and solutions to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 and/or any other potentially infectious diseases in the future. The concept consists of 4 areas: air quality management, touch-free solutions, social distancing measures, and building management.

„From the studies carried out so far, but also from the trends noticed in the Equilibrium building, where we also have our office, we`ve been able to remark amongst the employees the desire to return to the office. For the new office spaces to function safely and following Skanska’s standards that make a top priority out of the physical and mental well-being of its employees, we have implemented the Care for Life Office Concept in all of our projects in CEE. This initiative aims to give employees the confidence to return to the offices, where they can find a safe environment, successfully adapted to the new post-pandemic requirements. By implementing this concept we also wanted to help the offices to reclaim the important role that they play in the professional life: whether we are talking about its contribution to the integration of new employees, strengthening the teams, maintaining the organizational culture, or resetting the boundaries between the professional and personal life of employees, which overlapped during work from home", adds Aurelia Luca, Executive Vice President for Operations in Hungary and Romania within the real estate development division of Skanska in the CEE.

More information: https://www.skanska.ro/what-we-do/workplaces/cfl/