If we just start this blog with a question, what will decide the interiors of our office?
A.Co-working: Social Engagement
B.CORONA: Social distancing
The In year’2010, the world started to embrace an open culture at work i.e. working through open & artistic co-working places and cafés instead of lockable private big/small offices. Many co-working companies became millionaire’s and some even touched billion-dollar figure in less than a decade, how did this happen? This growth surge displayed overwhelming joy of mass office space consumer that had seen so little vibrance in areas of office space interior’s for decades, and now had an option to work from five star-like lounges with diverse unknown people sitting across to work, smell of variety of food over the counter, unlimited brewing coffee, beer, common club facilities like gyms, play areas, conference room, etc.
Co-working spaces introduced concepts like flexible work desks, large lounges serving as work areas for start-ups. MNCs and MSMEs also started to take up few fixed seats, cabin(s) and let their field/sales staff work from the lounge areas to cut on cost without demotivating them much since employees had uber-cool interiors compensating for their dedicated desks. It was like offering a bored married man VIP access to ‘Tinder’.
The animal in us likes to run wild, the open co-working interiors addressed this need; Though it’s not 1st case of expressing the desire of running wild, in the year 2001, interiors of BigBazar like superstores redefined shopping for Indian consumers, wherein consumers no more had to stand behind a dividing slab and place the order to the storekeeper rather could pick and choose what they want. Superstores’ interiors allowed us to run wild in the store and pick all we desire instead of what we require.
Now in AC Era, globally most of the human race is under lockdown for the 1st time since world war II, and we are realising COVID-19 (Yr.2019) is not only the 1st deadly virus in recent times we have had Ebola (2018), Zika (2016) to name a few. This means anybody could be a potential carrier of a deadly virus and going forward we would like to come in contact with less and less of strangers in our daily routine life. Thus, architectural and interior designing industry pioneers will be one who will redefine the future office interiors being mindful of social distancing and without allowing social disengagement.
AC Era’s Office: Beautiful blend of Social distancing (Private/ Fixed Offices) without allowing Social Disengagement (Mass engagement achieved through technology), offices will have limited access, defined cubicles, fixed workstations with partitions. Wherever this is not possible, technology will help in reducing the contact. Social distancing should not become social disengagement, here again, office interiors will have to absorb collaborative technologies.
- Use of automatic gates that open/ close without requiring physical contact instead of traditional doors with handles.
- Dedicated work desks (with a gap within two work desks need to be increased or keeping alternate work station empty in a row) and cabins.
- Washroom taps and flushes with inbuilt sensors will save us from physical contact and save water too. Indian/ Japanese toilet seats would soon get main-stream acceptance for healthy individuals & specially-abled should have western toilets in common places like offices.
- A biometric attendance system will be operated via contactless card or eye scan instead of finger touch.
- Cafeteria and lounges will become smaller and have less of sitting space to avoid crowding. Companies will opt for small pantry space within office premises for meal breaks, SMEs and Start-up’s will promote on desk meals.
- Tea/ coffee vending machine areas will not have open access for all and will not have self-service rather a pantry boy handling machine behind a large granite counter will protect machine from multiple contact.
- To promote refreshment and good health, companies will move to yoga/ aerobics areas, open parks and contactless exercise areas in/ outside office instead of gym, pool table, etc.
- Common areas like conference room, training room, lounge will have dedicated sanitation corners inbuilt in their spaces to promote multiple sanitation rounds in a day/ each day.
- Main gates of office building shall have guards allowing entry only after monitoring through contactless thermometer and in bigger office complexes sanitation sprays on entry gates.
Mid and small size organisation would move back to private lockable office culture for their employees who are required regularly in office, for field and technology jobs companies will promote ‘work from home’ is the future keeping cost factor in mind.