28 Jul What Has the Pandemic Taught Us about our Work Spaces
The pandemic has shaken our realities on many levels, some of which we are yet to discover. One of the most immediate effects this sanitary crisis has caused on our daily lives is the need to adapt our work routines and spaces. Now, more than ever, shared responsibility is a serious issue. By now it is well known that social distance is one of our strongest weapons against the virus, which has completely dismantled the viability of traditional offices, at least for now. As we continue fighting the pandemic, it’s time to reimagine our working habits and the relationship we have with our colleagues in order to create healthy and safe environments. After more than a year of these continuous obstacles, what have our work spaces learned from the pandemic?
Thanks to the technology and the communication systems, many of us have had the great privilege to be able to work from home in order to stay safe. For some, it may have even turned out to be a much necessary break from the hectic lifestyle many people living in big cities are forced to carry. Staying home also allows us to spend less money in transportation, in meals and to even have some extra time to carry on self care routines that would otherwise seem completely out of reach due to our busy schedules. However, as the months passed, many office workers have discovered that there is something necessary, even essential, to the interaction among colleagues, not only for teamwork purposes, but also for mental health.
The return to the offices present a series of challenges for company owners, for engineers and architects, and for every colleague involved. It is financially impossible to create entirely safe spaces from scratch, so it will take a lot of creativity and initiative to repurpose existing spaces and guarantee the best conditions for everyone. One of the most interesting alternatives is the idea of dynamic offices. These offices include interchangeable walls that can be organized according to the team’s needs in order to create spaces of different sizes.
Roof gardens and green areas are also an asset that will be very valuable for the return to the offices. These spaces are perfect for team meetings that may be too large for a conference room. Also, these changes in the routine can even boost the creativity and inspiration of all the team members.
Hygiene also plays a key role in the fight against COVID-19, so every office must find ways to provide easy and sufficient access to sinks and bathrooms, as well as sanitization stations available for everyone at all times. The implementation of air purification systems can also be a smart investment during these difficult times. If possible, the location of the windows must be taken care of in order to guarantee the air circulation.
The changes that architecture is facing, but also in every other area of expertise, have made us realize something inevitable: in order to continue evolving and developing as a society, we must take conscious and respectful steps towards collective wellbeing. Work, public and housing spaces must all be created with this ideology behind them. It’s time to invest in resilience and responsibility. It’s time to learn from this devastating crisis in order to be able to face the next one with much more strength and preparation.
- Kyle Chayka, “How the Coronavirus Will Reshape Architecture”, New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/dept-of-design/how-the-coronavirus-will-reshape-architecture
- Will Morgan, “The Post-COVID Office”, Go Local Prov, https://www.golocalprov.com/business/the-post-covid-office-architecture-critic-morgan
- DW, “How Coronavirus Is Changing Our Office Spaces”, https://www.dw.com/en/how-coronavirus-is-changing-our-office-spaces/a-56453394