Reorganising workspace post COVID19

Author Yodit Stanton

Published on May 2020

Reading time: 4 minutes
The current situation has pushed the World into adapting to working from home or remotely. Though important as it is now, the return to work seems imminent as the curve of the virus flattens.
To ease the process of returning to work, organisation can look into the following three elements to operate post COVID19: 
  1. Activity based working
  2. Higher mobility rates
  3. Optimising the office space

How can we ensure the wellbeing of employees all the while managing the return to work as efficiently as possible? Identifying the soft infrastructure of the organisations needs, is the first step towards ensuring a successful transition to returning to work. Once the pillars of the required activities are put into place, the physical infrastructure to facilitate activity based working is essential.  

Cost effective in the long run, re-arranging the physical infrastructure of the workplace to ensure adequate usage of the space is of utmost importance. Hence, in order to maximise the utilisation of the workspaces, all involved in the design, delivery and management of the workplace needs to be involved from the get go. 

Why activity based working is important

The definition of work and a working employee has seen a significant change since the conception of a 9 to 5 work schedule. Digitisation and Globalisation has enabled us to work without a restriction on location or  time (working hours). This translates to flexibility from the employer, leading to a better work life balance for many employees boosting creativity and happiness, especially post COVID19.   That being said however, moving away from the traditional structured desking working format and towards activity based working doesn’t mean creating trendy workspace or just giving employees flexibility to work from home.  The primary element to achieve when opting for activity based working, is the organic cohesion of employees working on the same or similar projects.  That includes:
  • Organising in a manner that suits the different work modes of individuals
  • Creating the best environment that support each required activity:
    • Idea development
    • Content delivery
    • Knowledge or collaboration
    • Deep focused work
This means:
  • Creating dedicated work spaces to specific activities such as collaborative and individual working spaces
  • Enabling an effective virtual working environment with remote access to all tools and documents
  • Providing efficient communication tools such as project management software or collaboration tools
  • Ensuring that meetings intentionally encourage participation from remote workers

Gaining the value of high mobility rate

In an activity based working environment, employees will not only gain mental space to organise their ideas and creativity, but also in terms of various workspace options. In doing so, people will achieve the optimum working capacity because the workspace would be adapted to the activity in question.  When creating an activity based working environment, it is important to take into consideration different types of roles and personalities within a team. These can broadly be categorised as:
  1. The True Transient: uses all of the work settings and has no base location
  2. The Intrepid Explorer: performs some activities at a single work setting but will often use other locations within the office or flexible base location
  3. The Timid Traveler: performs the majority of the activities at a single work setting and will occasionally uses other locations or semi-base location
  4. The Camper: performs all or most of their activities at a single work setting and rarely uses other locations or base location 

Identifying work habits

Organisations are made up of employees who fall under each of the categories above. Identifying the work habits and workspace preferences of employees is primordial before understanding how the space is going to be utilised. To encourage employees use the work environment in the way it was designed, it's important to ensure mobility adoption by:
  1. Reducing the number of employees in the office (at once)
  2. Encouraging the use of the designated areas for their respective activities
  3. Provide the necessary features and/or functionalities for the adequate use of the spaces
  4. Encouraging movement with the workspaces 

What is a suitable office space for activity based working?

The office space as we know it is changing and it will need to be physically adapted to accommodate a fully functioning activity based working environment. Just as each room in a home is separated and divided up by the activities they satisfy so should the workplace.  This means dividing up the workspace according to the following more basic of needs: 
  • Space for quiet
  • Space for privacy
  • Space for communal congregations
  • Space for specific tasks  
This means that each employee will need the following:
  • A home base for regular activities (can be shared but necessary for a work setup with belongings)
  • A private room (for phone calls, or quiet space to focus)
  • A space where it is not necessary to book (informal catch ups or meetings)
  • A space where it is necessary to book in advance (formal meetings)
  • A space for breaks (food, drinks and casual conversations) 
With encouraged mobility it is necessary to guarantee the safety of the workers as well as their belongings. The necessary safety measures from the Entrance (signup at the lobby if available) or an access card requirement will need to be put in place. Access to the specific areas will also need to be controlled and monitored for various reasons below that will be covered in more detail in the next article:
  • Safeguarding belongings
  • Maintaining social distancing (post COVID19)
  • Ensuring adequate cleanliness

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Topics: Facilities & Workplace trends, COVID19, Guidance

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