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Creating a Safe but Inviting Workplace

It’s probably fair to say that we’ve all had mixed experiences of working from home during the pandemic. The more positive experiences come from those who have been able to enjoy the space, the safety and the comfort of their homes which they have adapted to their personalised needs and wants of a working environment.

When it is safe for the world’s population to return to the workplace after months at home, we will transition back to spending 9-5 in a building where many will feel their needs are not ‘personally’ met. Commercial spaces that may previously have provided comfort and familiarity, changed by the pandemic. Temporary screens and other safety precautions introduced. Soft furnishings removed or replaced so that they have only stark, wipe-clean surfaces attempting to protect them from the risk of virus transmission. The same workplace will be unrecognisable for some post-Covid.

Architects and interiors designers are now considering how to actively support and enhance the personal needs of building users, including providing feelings of comfort and safety.

Creating personal safety in the workplace is a challenge as it standardises a part of life that stems from individuals’ views on what they deem to be acceptable. One thing we can be certain of though is that partitions and pods increase a user’s feelings of safety, which is just as important as the physical cleaning of the spaces we occupy.

Another key factor of the home working environment is the noise, or lack of it, depending on where you live and who you live with! Acoustics and the management of sound transmission is therefore now increasing in importance as a design consideration. Millennials in particular relate dissatisfaction in the workplace to noise levels, and research strongly supports this. Providing sound insulated areas through partitioning or pods again seems an obvious solution to solve this issue, and of course, Millennials will make up 75% of our workforce by 2025 so we should always design with them in mind.

This last year has forced a reprioritisation of the relationship between buildings and the people who occupy them. Businesses need to protect their staff, but they are also looking to provide them with an environment that is appealing and encourages wellbeing so that they can attract and retain talent.

The economic benefit relating to increased productivity from feelings of wellbeing is also very valid. Building owners will reap the rewards of demonstrating that their occupants’ health is a central consideration of the organisations who own, operate and manage the spaces they are asked to occupy.

Creating a healthy, comfortable and productive working environment will pay for itself again and again. At Allied we are celebrating the optimism and resiliency of the design industry as it moves forward by helping clients imagine positive change.