That Covid-19 would change offices was clear from the early days of the pandemic – but how much the once familiar workspace will change is becoming clearer only now.
Socially distanced work stations are just the basic change. Offices will transform into spaced out warrens, with plexiglass dividers and transparent hard plastic screen cubicles. Walking corridors that allows one-way movement, doors that open automatically, anti-bacterial wall coatings, and fewer meeting spaces will be other likely features of post-Covid office.
Office space designers said there are several queries from corporate clients about partitioned furniture. Plexiglass or other types of non-porous dividers are also in demand, said Sameer Joshi, associate vice president, marketing (B2B), at Godrej Interio. Among those making changes are Dabur, Panasonic India, Tech Mahindra, RPG Group, Flipkart, Panasonic Life Solutions, Dalmia Cement, Myntra and Titan.
Foot-operated Washroom Doors
Flipkart-owned Myntra has put up glass partitions between each seat in its cafeteria and warehouse workstations. “Our workplace will be less open temporarily,” said a Myntra spokesperson. “In future, we may incorporate elements such as extra space, with modular furniture.”
Flipkart has created lane system in office premises so that employees can avoid contact as they move about. The company has converted several corridors and walkways within the campus to one-way foot traffic.
Tech Mahindra is ensuring adequate spacing between workstations and has demarcated areas in the washrooms to ensure social distancing is maintained.
RPG Group will keep alternate workstations vacant to ensure distancing and reduce the number of stalls in the washrooms. Titan and Dabur have done away with closed doors in offices. And washroom doors now have foot-operated levers for opening and closing.
Panasonic Life Solutions India will create partitions in open offices. It has also marked out separate routes for employees to go to the cafeteria and restrooms, said Akash Sangole, head of HR. Consumer electronics maker Panasonic India has divided its corporate office into three zones, each for a different business function, with their own walkways, elevators, and facilities like washrooms and pantry.
Experts said going ahead digital collaboration tools will replace physical huddle areas and offices will have to create more spaces for video conferencing. As Joshi of Godrej Interio puts it, office layouts will increasingly address the “line of sight” parameter—no two employees should be able to see each other eyeto-eye at a short distance.