According to Jacopo della Fontana, co-founder with Corrado Caruso of D2U (Design to Users) architecture studio, the post-pandemic smart office will have globally re-thought.
The directives of social distancing and health imposed by the emergency must be respected first. But not only the workplace has to be re-designed: a change in corporate culture and a wider vision of smart living are essential, too.
Consistent with the mission “design for users.. and their wellbeing”, declared in the acronym, D2U draws up a white paper for the “physical-smart office” of the near future.
What are the new approaches to rethink workplaces after the Corona virus emergency?
The role of the designers will be fundamental to support companies in the creation of new “physical-smart offices”: taking into consideration the evaluation of the use of spaces; the definition of implementation strategies and cost / benefit analysis of the new solutions; the re-design of the workplace, both in the office and in remote working from home (ergonomics: seats, height-adjustable tables, lighting, acoustics, technology, etc.). It is also time to think about “residential co-smart working spaces” and services for finding delocalized co-working spaces.
“The workplace must be designed following the directives of social distancing imposed by the emergency, which will be activated through precise rules within the offices, from the use of masks to sanitation up to the technological enhancement of the tools dedicated to remote collaboration, to transform the real community of the offices into a virtual community. However, this moment should also be seen as an opportunity for companies to rethink their organizational culture, focusing on flexibility, work by objectives, and work-life balance.” quoted Corrado Caruso, co-founder and partner of D2U.
The physical-smart office must be re-designed evaluating several aspects:
- Redevelopment: layouts must be re-planned and adapted according to the density of people.
- Re-thinking open spaces: it needs to balance the need for privacy and distancing with the importance of socialization. The current workspaces will have to be redesigned and easily reconfigured according to the people present; even the furnishings need an evolution in terms of individual protection, without returning to the American cubicles of the ‘60s.
- Spaces for socialization and virtual communication: the office community will become a mix of real and virtual community; all employees will never be present at the same time, but it is important to create constant communication between those who will work the office and those who will work from remote. More videos and tele conference rooms that will become indispensable tools and spaces to maintain cohesion in the work teams.
- Transformation of the company common spaces: starting from the canteens that can become “smart canteen”, that means modular places where, after meals, tables can be rearranged as workstations to ensure distance when too many people will be present in the “traditional” offices; reconfigurable meeting rooms to combine physical presence and virtual community; “huddle rooms” equipped to host fast meetings, video conferences and virtual brainstorming, which must be sanitized in a simple and effective way after each use.
- Residential spaces for Co- Smart Working: in a smart perspective, gyms, play rooms and other condominium spaces can be flexibly adapted to host workplaces for smart working to allow remote workers not stay home, but without unnecessary travel.
- Change of corporate culture: increasingly based on trust and collaborators, and work for objectives, on flexibility and digital skills, with training for employees to guarantee a safety and healthy stay at office.