The most interesting thing to me is what the pandemic will mean for the physical workspace – we all crave that day-to-day interaction, and speaking as an architect, the creative spark that comes from collaboration. Collaboration not just with colleagues, but also with the client and the wider consultant teams and, not least, the physical analysis and interpretation of each individual space and place.
The physical office, in my mind, is far from dead – but we will need to think in a more objective way about the types of spaces; the furniture; the common parts that we bring into and utilise in office spaces.
The BCO’s recent paper, ‘Thoughts on office design and operation after COVID-19’, provides guidelines on how the office may change, and how we can get back to work. It describes how furniture in communal areas will need to be rearranged in order to accommodate social distancing; meeting rooms will be capped with maximum occupancy limits; receptionists could have protective screens; and communal amenities like coffee machines and cutlery will have to be removed for the time being.
We may actually see a big change in office toilets, with workplaces introducing ‘superloos’, sets of individual pods that feature fully touchless devices.
The BCO is, rightly, leading the debate around the post-COVID workplace, and is offering some really vital insight from the technical affairs and research committees – as well as from its wider network. The full piece of research can be accessed here.