Office refurbishment post-COVID

As we approach the end of 2020, the thoughts of many people will be focused on better times ahead; the Coronavirus pandemic has dominated this year, closing many of our businesses, affecting our way of life. However, with potential vaccines in production, there's much hope that better times lie ahead.

Throughout the year, the 'new normal' has meant working from home, but as firms are slowly returning to their offices, ensuring that everyone can return safely should be the utmost priority. To achieve this, many businesses will undertake an office refurbishment to get aspects such as social distancing and dedicated sanitising facilities in place.

For this all to happen, you could before given in thinking that massive changes to existing office layouts need to be made. In fact, even the smallest of office refurbishments can get the work place ready for the 'new normal' of 2021 and beyond. It's making the right changes that's important; keeping the aspects of the office that employees love while making office adaptations to allow them to feel safe enough to return.

In this blog, we're going to cover why it's important employees are encouraged back into the office; and how it can be achieved.

Why it's important to encourage people back to the office

Whilst it's safer for some people to work from home, many others would benefit from transitioning from the home office, back to the workplace. Before planning any office refurbishment (or just he return to work), businesses should consider the following:

  • The mental health aspects of home working

Despite fast-speed internet and video calls providing some contact with the rest of the company, working from home is still a solitary activity.

Getting out to the office will break up the monotony of living and working in the same environment 24 hours a day.

Although people cannot get too close to one another, just being in the same building as colleagues will provide a boost to mental health; reigniting creative partnerships and reaffirming friendships.

  • Accountability issues of working remotely

Visibility at work is a concern for both employers and employees; when working remotely, managers may find it difficult to be aware of what's been done and whether it's being done right. On the other hand, staff may feel like they need to overwork and do more hours than they would do in an office just so they are seen as visible. Returning to the office with a set number of hours negates all these issues; employers can see what's going on and employees won't feel the need to overwork.

  • The reputational benefits of a central place of business

Even in the current situation in which businesses and people are fragmented, having a central place of business communicates a position of strength. It tells people that the company has taken all the measures it needs to get operational, serving its client base. Creating such imagery with an office refurbishment can only prove to be a positive; notjust within the client/customer base, but amongst dedicated staff members too(especially if they're itching to get back to the office and some version of normality).

What 'small office refurbishments' can be made to encourage employees back?

So, we know why it's important to get staff back, but how can it be achieved? Let's take a look…

A sanitising area near the entrance to show safety compliance.

A great way to immediately reassure people that the business is taking its duty seriously is by creating an area for hand sanitation close to the entrance of the building (typically in reception).

The team here at Oaktree Interiors have already worked on projects that want to have such facilities as part of their office refurbishment.

Something like a 'Mud Room' is perfect as it gives people coming in from the outside an area to take off their coats and to sanitise their hands before entering the main workspace.

The example shown on the left is one of our regularly returning clients, Corsair. To ensure that their new facilities were COVID compliant, and to demonstrate that their employees would be safe on their return to work, it was essential that sanitation methods were installed.

However, it was equally important to ensure that these methods were installed in-keeping with the aesthetic of the office and to avoid a cold, clinical atmosphere.

Fitting (or refurbishing) a new kitchen/lunch area.

Having a dedicated area for employees to store/prepare/eat their food will provide several benefits that may not immediately spring to mind. Firstly, a kitchen is a great meeting place; it offers people an environment that isn't their stressful work arena.

It can help people to catch-up with colleagues (building relationships), relax and de-stress (boosting wellbeing) and of course, give them the chance to eat some healthy food (improving health). The kitchen can also act as a focal point; if the current office design doesn't have space for extra meeting areas for staff to have spontaneous gatherings, a kitchen can act as the perfect facility for people to share ideas and provide updates. And they can stick the kettle on for us all while they're there!

office space kitchen refurbishment

A space for more breakout/collaboration areas and shifting to a more agile office layout.

For an office design that does have space for dedicated informal meetings, breakout areas, touchdown zones and other types of collaborative spaces can be utilised. These places offer a different, more relaxed environment for people to chat about their work or anything else they might feel like talking about.

Breakout and collaborative areas should be at the heart of any agile office design; if people can choose where,when and who they work with, it's far more likely that they will produce better, more refined work than they would do if they were sat at the same uncomfortable desk for 7 hours a day. With wireless internet, there isn't really a need for workspaces to be rigid in their layout these days anyway.

Procuring new furniture, updating desks and re-decoration.

It's always 'the little things' that make all the difference to a person's outlook; even something as small as procuring new furniture or updating desk types/layouts can help aid the functionality and mood of employees. The immediate environment should be considered too; are the walls a dull, uniform colour? Perhaps they simply haven't been decorated for awhile and are showing their age? A refresh of the environment that envelops employees can make a positive contribution to their productivity and general mood; making the workplace somewhere they enjoy being in, rather than somewhere they feel disconnected from.

If you're looking to encourage your team(s) back to work in the coming months, we here at Oaktree Interiors can offer all the advice and expertise you need to create a bespoke office design that will prove safe, engaging and inspiring for all.

Get back to work safely, with Oaktree Interiors

Here at Oaktree, we are currently working with businesses to prepare for them for the return to work and the medium-to-long-term future. We can work with you create a safe working environment; planning out working areas to abide by government guidelines, identifying employees and roles that may be better suited to remote or office working and effect changes based on their requirements where needed.

Please feel free to browse our website to learn more about our office refurbishment services. Our case studies section, in particular, is a great example of the different kinds of work we can carry out; from new office designs, fit outs, relocations and more

For more information, including how you can get a free, no-obligation quote, give us a call on 0345 21 86955. Alternatively, send an e-mail enquiry to hello@oaktreeoffice.com and we'll get in touch as soon as possible.
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