Monica Pedrali, CEO, Pedrali Spa
Pedrali has always worked in the hospitality industry. In public spaces, our furniture was already designed to primarily feature ease of maintenance, hygiene and cleaning, as well as durability over time despite the constant and sustained use of aggressive cleaning agents.
As for the office, given the historical moment we are living in today, we strongly believe that there is a need to stop and reflect, since these factors will surely begin to interest this sector as well.
We hope for a growing attention to the quality of materials: in the tabletops, for example, or in the padded items, whose demand has grown exponentially in the last few years, due to their employment in public and in breakout areas, to give a sense of comfort and wellness to employees. In recent years, we have focused mostly on the shape of the product and on colours rather than on the quality of its upholstery.
Therefore, it is necessary to rethink with this mind about all spaces, offices included – to make up for the needs of spaces that will ask for quick adaptability to different purposes.
We also believe in the importance of focusing on the quality of the home office set-up right now – through the choice of the right piece of furniture, since we are convinced that it will be more and more entwined into our everyday life – as well as towards collective spaces inside clinics, hospitals and nursing homes.
Jonathan Hindle, Group Managing Director, KI
During the COVID-19 lockdown, office workers all over the world have had to embrace remote working practices. Virtual meetings, collaboration, even socialising have been made possible by online platforms and cloud technology. But eventually, we will start returning to our offices and the aftereffects along with ongoing social distancing may transform workspace strategies and space-planning for the short to medium term.
People may now feel reluctant to sit in open plan offices and shared spaces. Collaborative spaces, meeting rooms, cafés, even lounge areas could benefit from larger tables and fewer chairs. This ensures people can undertake their work while sitting further apart, while dividing office space with fixed or movable screening helps restrict areas to smaller groups of people.
Increasing capacity to accommodate technology can also be important so having desktop power allows easy laptop and phone charging and supports flexible working. This can be retrofitted to existing furniture, and helps support a phased or staggered office attendance rota.
Acoustics may become an additional consideration if more people are utilising computer-based audio/video communications tools such as Zoom, Skype or Teams. Better audio equipment and acoustic panelling may become necessary to allow multiple calls, or multiple participants to be on a call simultaneously within proximity.
Illustrations by Antonio Rodriguez