Office Furniture That Will Convince Employees To Attend The OfficeSeptember 2020
Lingering concerns over the global coronavirus pandemic is discouraging employees from returning to the office. For the time being, people are answering the government’s call to “work from home if you can.”
Whilst employers do not want to be the source of an outbreak in their community, some employees do not feel it is safe to return to the office. And this despite millennials admitting they miss the office environment.
During the lockdown, a Remote Woking Survey published by Eskenzi PR and OnePoll revealed that 91% of UK workers would prefer to continue working from home once restrictions were lifted.
Fast forward several months and people are realising how much they miss the office. It turns out people are reeling from the lack of contact with their colleagues together with the camaraderie and creative spark working in an office environment provides.
Employees want to return to the office, but they want assurances the workplace will be Covid-safe. Many people are apprehensive about being around people, especially as the second wave kicks in now the cold weather is returning.
To allay the fears, companies need to reimagine your office layout and install furniture that helps to protect the health and well-being of your workforce.
Seeking advice from interior design consultants will enable you to install short-term solutions but with a long-term vision in mind. Covid-19 may be the catalyst that prompts upgraded office designs but there are many other reasons to invest in office equipment that fosters productivity and helps to retain top talent.
Covid Safe Office Furniture
Government protocols regarding sanitisation and deep cleaning should be a standard consideration for when employees return to work. Foot-pedalled hand sanitisers and personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves should be permanent fixtures.
Employees in open-plan offices are deemed to be in more risk of contracting the disease if one of their colleagues is carrying the virus. The safety of employees will depend on how well laid out the office plan is together with cleanliness and ventilation.
Rearranging desks so they are further apart is only a partial solution. Installing 3-way sneeze screens around individual desks provides a barrier that will reduce the risk of transmission.
Perspex or glass barriers enable employees to see one another whereby it is still possible to interact and feel connected. However, the novel coronavirus can survive for up to 72 hours on glass and perspex. The alternative option is to install 3-way desk guards made from cardboard. Covid does not survive for more than 24-hours on cardboard.
Adding individual lockers as storage space for personal items such as coats and bags also helps to reduce the risk of spreading the virus into homes and public spaces.
Anti-Microbial Office Furniture
Office equipment anointed with an antibacterial coating is available and can reduce the bacterial count by over 99 per cent in 18 hours. Personal lockers can be stored in an underused room or tucked under individual desks.
Manufacturers have also developed a germ-killing polymer that can be soaked in certain fabrics. It is hoped that by adding the titanium dioxide-doped polymer coating materials used to make office furniture, the number of bacteria and fungi commonly found in the workplace will be significantly reduced.
Anti-microbial furniture not only helps to lower the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus but will also reduce the number of bacteria that contribute to a high number of absentees due to work-related illness.
Studies have found that poor air quality in offices has a negative impact on productivity and an increase in employee absenteeism.
Inadequate ventilation causes symptoms of “Sick Building Syndrome” including headaches, dizziness, nausea, irritation in eyes, throat and nose, dry cough and itchy skin. All these distractions lead to an inflated number of office absenteeism and a loss of output.
Another groundbreaking discovery is the development of UV lights that neutralise pathogenic microorganisms. UV-C room sterilisation lamps provide 38 Watts of power without causing harm to people.
The application of UV radiation is commonly used in healthcare environments such as operating rooms and isolation chambers. The lights ability to eliminate airborne organisms could prove to be a powerful solution to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Private Office Pods
In the last few years researchers have discovered employees hate open-plan offices; they’re too loud, full of distractions and offer little privacy. Moreover, they have a negative impact on productivity and increase stress levels.
Subsequently, there have been more calls for quiet zones, secluded corners, breakout areas and outdoor seating. Another solution is to install a series of acoustically-enhanced office pods that are custom-designed to accommodate a specific purpose.
First of all, office pods are made from sound-proof materials that either absorb noise or block it. They are also fitting with soft furnishings for added comfort and ceramic tiles or decorative art for aesthetic appeal.
Office pods can be used for various purposes. For instance, telephone booths provide privacy and reduce stress. A survey found that people feel under pressure when their colleagues are in earshot of conversations with clients.
Meeting booths are ideal for lowering the noise of a group of people chattering in a small office environment. These types of booths can also be used for collaborative brainstorming.
Single pods are ideal for workers that need to focus without the usual office distractions. They could also suit introverts that sometimes need to escape the sensory overload of open-plan offices.
The sound levels in busy hives can also be lowered by installing insulated partitions. Sound-proof screens can be used to create a one-way system around the office to enhance social distancing and resolve noise issues at the same time.
Office pods are typically lightweight and can be easily relocated which makes them a convenient and flexible solution as well as adding a feature that employees will benefit from.
Whilst ergonomic chairs are commonplace in modern office settings, sitting for long periods contributes to various health issues including poor circulation, muscle degeneration and back problems.
Health experts recommend companies should encourage their employees to move more often. This may involve a stroll around the office to take a break from their desk or using stairs instead of lifts.
An alternative is to provide staff with smart furniture that gives them the option of sitting or standing to work. Modular desks are collapsable and extendable to give users more autonomy over how they want to work.
Flexible seating and desks also enable staff sharing desk space to easily adjust positions. Firms that are introducing a remote working schedule and cutting back on desk space will find smart furniture provides the ideal solution.
Soft Seating in Breakout Areas
Employers are required by law to encourage employees to take a break from work. Not only does a 20-min break help protect the mental and physical health of your workforce, but they are also more productive, creative and motivated when they do return to their desk.
Breakout areas should be designed to invite employees to take a rest. A home environment with soft seating and nest tables provide a relaxed area where people can chill, revitalise their cognitive function and socialise.
Breakout spaces can also be a place for employees to strike up meaningful conversations. This can help staff bonding and company culture but may also throw up impromptu ideas that benefit the company.
Before investing in office furniture, we recommend taking the time to consult your employees and ask what would make them feel more confident about returning to the office.
You can also take this opportunity to find out what they don’t like about the furniture, design or layout of the current office and seek to address these issues as best you can during the upheaval.