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New Zealand Office Design Trends In A Coronavirus World

Robyn Skeates Office Interiors / Furniture  / New Zealand Office Design Trends In A Coronavirus World

New Zealand Office Design Trends In A Coronavirus World

New Zealand Office Design Trends In A Coronavirus World

 

New Zealand businesses are slowly returning to normal as we move into Alert Level 1. To operate safely, the government has mandated that businesses should continue to do everything possible to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Workplaces will be fully open but are asked to take precautions and ensure work can be done safely. That includes meeting all public health requirements such as hand washing and disinfecting surfaces.

Workplaces will need to independently work out the risks and self-assess what they need to do to operate safely. Planning to pandemic proof offices involves short term measures, new work practices and upgrading layouts and furniture in the long term and ensuring hygiene is at the heart of keeping staff and customers safe. To keep staff safe, ensure productivity and manage regulation around health and safety New Zealand businesses must quickly adapt design and invest in communication and training.

 

Office Fit-Outs That Are Simple & Effective

It may be too much to expect drastic design changes but by combining simple fixes to make design upgrades business can help keep staff safe and help boost confidence in returning to work. Areas that are regularly exposed to the public can have wellness screens or cough/sneeze guards can be used at customer service points, cashiers, receptions, and other areas. These screens made of acrylic and Plexiglas can be cleaned easily. As they are transparent, they do not impact tasks but help limit the spread of germs and protect front line workers. Freestanding screens are great options that provide privacy and for space separation.  Changes in the office layout also means avoiding closed spaces, close contact and crowds. Keeping distance at work, improving natural light and having a good airflow can improve comfort.

 

Hi-Tech AV

Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other apps are tools that are being widely used to connect with clients and staff. Offices will need to up their AV game to make teleconferencing easy. Offices also need to rethink gathering in small spaces and finding ways of connecting with staff working from home easily.

Effective acoustics in meeting rooms that reduce echo and frequencies allow clearer communication and effective conversations. Acoustic panels can also be used effectively to provide privacy.

Investing in hi-tech meeting rooms that are equipped with touch-less technology such as motion sensor doors, lights, facial recognition, speakers, and screens that allow screenshare easily will help deliver enhanced presentations. Retail establishments like stores, theatres and others can use video walls and larger screens to relay information in lobbies and other public spaces. These include communicating health and safety information.

With more workers working remotely, businesses have begun to accept that staff cannot be physically together all the time. To boost connectivity, improve productivity and continue to engage, staff need to maximise benefits of both virtual work and office presence. Smart buildings with touch-less technology, buildings that bring in fresh air and light and flexible work options are things to consider as we return to the workplace.

Protocol Signage

Workplaces have a new role to play – reinforcing safety guidelines. At Level-1 workplaces will be fully open but are asked to take precautions and ensure work can be done safely. That includes meeting all public health requirements such as hand washing and disinfecting surfaces. Just like we are used to road markings office environments need messaging to ensure everyone remembers to practice safe hygiene.

New Zealand still has the risk of another outbreak of Covid-19. Communicating to staff and customers will play a huge role in managing the workplace.  Some reminders include posters that encourage coughing or sneezing into the elbow to avoid spreading germs on hands or through the air.  Communication also involves reminding staff with even mild cold or flu symptoms to stay at home.  Businesses can use floor stickers, emblems, and other markings in their retail and other office spaces to reduce density in common areas such as the lift, café rooms and other common areas.

Staff will also need to be educated about how to circulate, how to clean up after using their desks, the use of the tracing app.  Businesses are required to print out and display the Covid Tracer QR code to make contact tracing easier in the case of a confirmed case on their premises. While social distancing will no longer be required in alert level 1 Kiwis are required to be “vigilant” and ready to quickly move up alert levels if needed.

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