COVID-19: Adapting work environment to this new reality
Work environments will experience a revolution in the coming months. To regain economic vitality and productivity without compromising human health. This will be the number one issue for most companies.
The work environment as we knew it just a few weeks ago will no longer be the same.
The human being, at the heart of this new reality: Considering the psychological and emotional condition of employees.
The unknown, the fear of compromising their health, financial insecurity… each employee will experience this situation in his or her own way. More than ever, the work of a manager will require the ability to manage the psychological aspects of the situation. Analyzing the stress level of resources in relation to this historical context, taking new measures in accordance with organizational values and culture… all parameters to be taken into consideration, but above all, seeing these changes as an opportunity to review management strategies, ultimately placing the human factor at the centre of these changes.
The return to work will be gradual, and work will take different forms, depending on each individual’s reality: teleworking, job sharing, flexible working hours, etc.
Ensuring a safe environment
We cannot predict the next few months, however, we can prepare for them, while preserving the health and safety of our employees, and therefore the health and safety of our company.
Employees will need to feel safe. Their only concern should be to complete their tasks as normally as possible, without the constant fear of being infected.
To do so, the employer will have to demonstrate that he has taken the necessary precautions to make the work place safe.
The first step will be to define the major key steps in the application of a safe and rigorous protocol.
In order to comply with the new standards in terms of health and safety, the entire organization of the space will have to be analyzed, thought out and often rethought.
Delimiting work spaces to respect social distancing
It is against the latest trends in office design that the situation of COVID-19 now takes us. Open areas and large work islands that were once ideal for collaboration are now favorable for the spread of the virus.
The current situation is uncertain and no one can predict what it will be tomorrow. Rearranging an office from A to Z overnight is impossible. However, it is entirely possible to invest in less expensive temporary solutions:
- Adjusting the height of existing panels
- Install plexiglass or laminated screens between each workstation and in the corridors.
- Reorient stations where possible to avoid face-to-face contact.
- Add removable space dividers to create safe areas
- Provide personal storage space to free up surfaces and facilitate cleaning
This list is obviously not exhaustive, and a multitude of other solutions are available.
Will these measures be temporary? Will companies evaluate the option of another type of work for several more months?
Work from home, a way of work that cannot be improvised
Confinement and distance standards will have forced many companies to change their organisational patterns radically and very quickly, and teleworking is one of them.
A win-win opportunity in many spheres, telework is generally well received by employees, most of them benefiting from the quality of life and work-family balance it provides.
On the other hand, well-being also means ergonomics, and this in no way dispenses the employer from ensuring that his or her employee can perform his or her duties in an optimal setting, in order to avoid possible health problems and, ultimately, to comply with occupational health and safety standards.
At the improvised beginning, telework will certainly become more common and will have to meet ergonomic needs.
Several affordable tools and telework packages are offered by our manufacturers to simply equip any home office.
An ideal office should first and foremost be a space where the employee can perform his or her duties as free from distractions as possible.
In addition to this, there should be at least an ergonomic office chair, and eventually the possibility of alternating between sitting and standing.
Ultimately, the residential office must be first and foremost a place that meets the primary needs of ergonomics, but also a space with a neat design. It will be more stimulating to work in a pleasant and well-decorated environment. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by Human Spaces, employees who work in environments with natural elements such as plants and natural lighting notice a 15% increase in their feeling of well-being, are 6% more productive and are 15% more creative. So why not take advantage of this?
In any case, this historical situation we are living through certainly challenges our ways of thinking, our ways of working and our ways of organizing. In fact, this is exactly the time to rethink our way of working and to see it as a real business opportunity. It’s also the time to innovate and rethink work in the fullest sense of the word. The future of work is above all a healthier future for humans.