New workspaces will be collaborative, safe, intelligent and sustainable.
Evolution of the spaces
Open plan workspaces, where everything from rest areas to meeting rooms and collaborative spaces are mixed, were being the trend for many companies when designing their offices. A change that implied not only a new way of understanding the physical space but something deeper, a philosophy of work to capture and attract talent as well as to improve the productivity of the teams.
Nothing seems to indicate, for the moment, that the offices are going to change radically, but it will be necessary to manage the spaces in a different way to guarantee the security of the employees and in many cases, to resize them.
The new habits are here to stay and it will be necessary to redesign the work spaces climatically, using materials that are easy to disinfect and clean, natural lighting, etc. Elements that were previously considered a plus will now be standardised to create a safe and comfortable environment.
The offices are going to be a conscious investment that will rely on technology to make business decisions.
Materials with a conscience
Using natural materials such as wood or stone with a matte finish or combined with others to avoid porosity, and optimal cleaning and disinfection is vital, adding to the concept of sustainability.
The materials and, in general, any element used in the construction and design of the new offices must be hygienic and respectful of the environment.
Teleworking will be much more frequent.
Telework has come to stay as a formula to benefit the worker and the employer itself.
It is therefore necessary to develop a teleworking strategy in order to comply with the regulations and also to ensure the safety of employees who must be provided with the necessary technical equipment, timely training and adequate tools to enjoy an optimal remote working experience. The IT and facility services departments must guarantee the availability of IT equipment, the scalability of infrastructures, reinforce security, control remote access, internal communications, backups, energy consumption, etc.
Many events and meetings have been moved to digital platforms. The frequency of face-to-face meetings has decreased and the workstations are going to move to the hot desk model, i.e. there will be tables available for reservation via app so that employees can book their seats in a couple of clicks and from their own device. In this way, the safety distance is guaranteed as well as knowing the occupancy times of the stalls so that they can be disinfected.
Technology is the key
The main objective of the companies in the new offices is to guarantee the health of the workers, for which it is necessary to increase hygiene and disinfection measures.
The Ministry of Health recommends ventilating the spaces on a daily basis and reinforcing cleaning tasks, but many organisations consider this insufficient and opt for technologies that help them to automate these processes.
Many companies already disinfect rooms with ozone, workplaces with UV light, change and improve the quality of air conditioning filters or increase room humidity.
The access control systems have also changed, it is no longer necessary to touch the doors or the lift button to open them, they do it by means of facial or voice recognition devices.
Digital signage plays a very important role in this context, as it will serve to manage movement flows or arrange access to certain areas, such as meeting rooms or toilets.
Lighting is critical to maintaining a productive work environment and motivated employees, as well as achieving your sustainability and well-being goals. The lights are switched on automatically by sensors that detect the presence of people and then switched off when there is no one in the space. It also adjusts to the daylight level and can be customised via the mobile phone.
All these elements are centrally monitored, and their consumption is managed through energy monitoring and control systems.
In a world where the fight against climate change has become a necessity: sustainability in the working environment is no longer an option. It is no longer only necessary for companies to use environmentally friendly materials in construction, but also to reduce energy consumption and therefore CO2 emissions.
The European Union has developed a strategy for sustainable growth whose main objective is to reduce energy consumption in the EU. Therefore, from 1 January 2019 all public buildings must be NZEB (Nearly Zero Energy Consumption Buildings) and from 1 January 2021, all new buildings must be NZEB.
The energetic renovation of the property implies a great economic, training and transformation efforts for all the agents involved in the process. The deadlines are short, so the great challenge for the organisations is to modernise the existing buildings to adapt them to the new legislation. In Spain, the strategic plan set by Europe is reflected in Royal Decree 56/2016, which makes it compulsory for companies to carry out an energy audit, every four years from 16 November 2016.
The entities that must undergo these reviews must comply with one of the following characteristics:
- To have more than 250 workers.
- 50 million euros in turnover.
- A balance sheet of more than 43 million euros.
Failure to comply with the regulations carries significant penalties.
For all these reasons, energy efficiency becomes extremely important and is one of the main concerns of organisations.
No one is going back to the office full time, but they are going back to interact and be part of a group and a project. Offices are going to become a fundamentally digital meeting place and a place for social interaction, a place that reflects the company’s cultural values while at the same time providing a sense of well-being, security and sustainability.