The pandemic has changed the way we work and see ourselves in our workplace. The crisis surrounding the future workplace has been massive but as the return to office looks close, there are different ways to build smart staffing solutions and a safe environment. We have seen a lot of predictions, assumptions, as well as recommendations that have offered some viable suggestions but many, have relied on the fact that the workplace of the future is not going to look like it used to.

The one thing that we have learned from the pandemic is that the variables continue to change and we must try our best to keep the employees safe at the workplace. Here are a few things to look for in the office space post-pandemic.

  1. Fewer desks and more space

All of us have been hearing about less dense workspaces and increasing the space between workstations. This is one of the best ways to handle the situation after a pandemic. There was a time when it did not go well with the economics of businesses but after the pandemic, this is the only way forward. We will be in the recovery phase for a while in terms of health and finances and the priority will be to keep yourself safe. Workplaces will be strategically designed to allow more open space and flow. There will be fewer desks, fewer people, and empty spaces.

  1. Staggered seating

Offices will have staggered attendance and will bring in the shift culture. There will also be zig-zag seating space in the open areas. Gone are the days when you could hang around your cubicle with your colleagues. There will be open spaces but the colleagues will be seated at a distance. With the shift culture, there will be a limited number of people inside the office at a time but even then the seating will be different. The experts at Collaborative Office Interiors share that they have already seen a rise in demand for office furniture in Houston designed for the future workplace. Organizations will disaggregate the ones who return to the office, even if they are in the same team. There could be alternative working days and new protocols in case of working in shared spaces.

  1. Strategic design

The post-pandemic office will have an anti-infection design where hygiene and safety will take the front seat. There will be higher panels and the addition of divider screens, basically, breath barriers that can reduce the risk of infection. Further, we will see touch-less doors and elevators, and surfaces that allow more aggressive and frequent cleaning. We may be a lot safer today but it is best to take the right steps and try to avoid any chances of re-infection.

  1. Distance markers

For the past year, we have seen the blue tape and chalk lines in the grocery stores and banks to help maintain social distance, however, they were temporary measures not ideal for the long term. In offices, irrespective of how creative or casual, we will see distance markers in savvy designs. It could be through graphics or architecture but it is all about following a changing behavior. Companies will demonstrate the new safety precautions and will also recognize the essential measures that are required to evolve in the post-pandemic work culture. There will be distance markers and signs indicating the expectations for hand washing and other social behaviors.

  1. Single-way hallways

Single-way hallways have been present in the airport for years and it shows that to reach from one point to another, you need to follow a certain route. The purpose of creating the paths in the workplace is the main concern for those returning to the office. It will help prevent infectious collisions at bottlenecks or pinch points. It can turn out to be a difficult learning curve at the office but it is very common across hospitals in order to cut the spread of infections.

There have been some difficult realities of this pandemic that have changed the way we behave, work, and  socialize. Only time can tell how long or drastic these changes will continue to be. With the rollout of vaccines, as we continue to return to normal, there will be some behavioral changes we will have to make. Offices will never be the same as they used to be in the past. There will be open spaces, a lot of distance between two desks, and technology that helps prevent the spread of infection. The sooner we get used to it, the better it is. Remember, the battle is not over yet. We are inching closer but we must continue to take all the precautions and as we walk back into the office, we will have to maintain social distance and follow safety measures.

Michael Zhou is a Senior VP of Business Intelligence Development and has assisted the Fortune 1000 company with expertise in the web as a whole, including ground-zero marketing efforts that benefit both consumer and vendor. He is also a contributor on Esprittoday.

Post-pandemic office stock image by Chokniti Khongchum/Shutterstock