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EDGE has modified their Amsterdam and Berlin workspaces into flexible and reversible offices with social distancing protocol for its employees to return.
While most us are still working from the safety of our homes, developer’s EDGE has spent the last few months learning from their own developments, smart data and staff’s behaviour to create a work environment that meets new standards, which EDGE has branded The New Normal Office.
EDGE set up a task force with colleagues from different disciplines in order to prepare their offices for a social distancing economy and to keep the workforce involved. Experts such as virologist Francesco Franchimon and architects from Fokkema & Partners provided outsider perspectives. EDGE also worked closely with Leesman to conduct a survey on employee’s experiences working from home.
Live data from EDGE’s smart technology platform was analysed to gain insight into the usage and indoor conditions of all used spaces. The task force’s main purpose was not only to create a safe work environment, but to make it flexible for future adjustments while remaining attractive and welcoming. To help all staff understand the transformation, the task force developed a 3-B-approach: the Bytes – the technology involved, the Behaviour – guiding people, and the Bricks – the physical changes in design.
Technology has always been a key source of information and a key basis for EDGE’s developments. To modify their workspaces to meet COVID-19 safety requirements, some minor software changes were made to the sensors connected to the EDGE Smart Platform at EDGE Olympic Amsterdam. The platform offers full transparency on current building performance, visualising, for example, the maximum number of people per meeting room to ensure a safe distance at all times.
Through the EDGE Smart Platform, facility managers and employees are directly informed about the overall performance of the office, as well as the space currently used. As such, the platform warns people when the air quality is too poor to stay in a room and all meeting rooms have an extra 30- minute ventilation break after each scheduled meeting. Facility management can also make use of this data for more efficient cleaning, maintenance and scheduling.
When returning to the office, all employees were provided with a ‘Welcome Back’ package containing essentials such as disinfectant, a touch pen, guidelines, and a door opener. Flex-desks on an open floor have been transformed to 1.5-meter distanced desks that must be reserved in advance and cannot be switched during the day. The flow of people around the office floor is guided through signage and the teams are reminded of EDGE’s golden rules throughout the office, to ensure the safety for all. Staff members who rely on public transport for their commute are supported to remain working from home and can access all meetings virtually. Those who work in the office are encouraged to hold meetings outdoors, and maps with scenic walking routes are available.
Together with interior designers Fokkema & Partners, EDGE looked not only at what had to be done to protect everyone’s health, but also ways to make these alterations while keeping the workplace comfortable and attractive. The new p-ART-itions dividers not only provide physical separation between workspaces but also introduce art and culture into the space. Furniture and layouts have also been adjusted to enable sufficient distancing in all areas. This included moving workstations and removing cushions from sofas to create a clear message that they are a ‘one-person sofa’.
‘We wanted to show our industry the way forward,’ says Coen van Oostrom, EDGE’s Founder & CEO. ‘Offices need to support employees’ health first and foremost, but also offer clear benefits compared with working from home. The office should be a comfortable, inviting place where people can safely go to interact, be creative, and exchange thoughts. We have received a lot of positive feedback from our workforce, who find the modifications to the office a great addition and are confidently returning to work.’
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