“We should remember and recover the most common and effective gestures to know how to adapt our corporate spaces”

In three months we have written more about the challenges of the new office than in the past two years. The discourse has focused on physical distance, hygiene, air quality, and space design. However, many of the proposed solutions have been in place for a long time.

Human history is full of periods of infection and disease. During the grippe of 1918, the recommendations of spanish local governments at the time already focused on washing hands frequently, isolating the sick or avoiding contact with convalescent people from other diseases. Measures were also implemented such as the disinfection of theaters, cinemas and schools and the cancellation of football matches.

The measures proposed with the arrival of COVID-19 have gone along the same lines, and we have verified that, although we have advanced a lot scientifically, due to the lack of knowledge, we have had to go back to basics. Therefore, we could conclude that we should add two more senses to the five that we have as standard: the sense of social memory, to remember and learn from the lessons of our history; and common sense, to reasonably judge situations. What learnings can we learn from social memory and common sense? How can we apply them in our day to day and in our workplace?

The balance between office work and teleworking

The arrival of coronavirus has affected human relations at all levels, of course also in the workplace. The changes that until recently were being implemented reluctantly in companies have accelerated with the arrival of the pandemic and are going to last. Now we have the technical advances that allow us to work wherever we have the Internet and we must take advantage of them.

For reasons of physical health and mental well-being, shift work is imposed and telework is established. According to an article in spanish digital newspaper El Economista, different studies in Denmark demonstrated, a while back, that a higher concentration of office workers led to a higher percentage of medical leave. Teleworking provides greater comfort and flexibility for the worker, in addition to saving time, money and environmental impact on the move.

Still, it should not be forgotten that flexible work is not telework, telework is a tool of flexible work. In recent months, we have found that working from home is not always the solution either, as new problems such as anxiety, stress and difficulty disconnecting appear. Thus, the correct way of working will be to integrate online use with physical life, and corporate headquarters must be part of this work ecosystem. In other words, we have to understand the office as a place where we are going to socialize, even if it seems like a contradiction.

The office as a meeting point and brand vision

Common sense leads us to design friendly spaces, inspired by corporate culture, with the enhancement of outdoor and open spaces. The corporate headquarters will fulfill new functions where to attract workers and not just to go to work: it will be a space where you can meet with colleagues, share experiences and hold more constructive, agile and faster meetings than remote calls.

The office will be an adaptable space, with transformable furniture and space delimiting elements for situations of both pandemic and hygienic well-being.

Currently, companies with large corporate offices are the ones that have best adapted to the pandemic situation and have been able to allocate more spaces for safe circulation. However, in the long term they should be optimized and the space reduced significantly.

The know-how in architecture and design has always been ecological

The gesture of opening windows and using natural ventilation is one of the most common and effective gestures to guarantee air quality in the new normal. In the field of architecture and design, placing cantilevers in the openings facing south, fixing exterior vertical elements in windows facing east and west or promoting cross ventilation between rooms with the outside have always been a common practice.

Although it’s not just about sanitizing buildings, there are also natural materials that have many healthy properties. In the field of construction, we can use the closest materials in our environment so as not to waste energy on transportation.

To regain confidence and return to work, as well as eating out, going to the theater or going out shopping, you must apply the rules of ‘know-how’ that have always existed. We cannot think that this situation is exceptional, because it is not entirely. The population of past generations has lived through similar times and has overcome them.

As Marcel Benedito recently commented in a webinar organized by Cosentino on safe offices and design, “if there is good education and good habits, one should not dehumanize the offices.” Let’s not lose memory and apply common sense. We will all benefit.

Lluís Saiz

Business & Development Manager – GrupIdea

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