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What the office may appear like after the coronavirus

Steelcase Office solutions for coronavirus revised

Source: Steelcase

What will the workplace look like after Covid? Steelcase is one of the largest manufacturers of office furniture – desks, chairs, storage products, and office capsules – and they have lots of ideas.

You are working with MIT to better understand how air circulates in an office environment.

"Well, we know the six-foot rule isn't that simple," CEO Jim Keane told me. "Science shows that particles travel through the air depending on whether they are larger or smaller, based on models that MIT built. So we use these models to test different types of furniture configurations to determining which furniture is available will best protect the workforce in the future. "

"In the short term, offices need greater separation between desks and, in some cases, screens or partitions to meet science-based guidelines, such as the 6-foot rule," said Keane. "Our own analysis shows that about 70% of desks in the US may not meet this standard. And they often sit on very expensive real estate. So there is an opportunity to retrofit and reconfigure these spaces so that they don't sit idle to sit. "

Steelcase Office solutions for coronavirus revised

Source: Steelcase

You have developed screens that allow colleagues to collaborate without direct face-to-face interaction. Other workstations have been realigned at 90-degree angles. Height-adjustable desks and free-standing screens offer additional protection.

Everything is mobile, from desks and screens to whiteboards and power, giving employees more control over their work environment.

Even the café at the workplace will be covered by moving tables and chairs and making generous use of plants so that employees can come together and work from a safe distance.

You'll also see a lot more video technology to keep teams connected when they can't be in the same room.

And of course there are plumbing stations and signage everywhere, constantly reminding people to wash their hands and keep their distance.

But how soon will employees get back to the office? Kate Lister, president of Global Workplace Analytics, which helps employers create flexible workplace programs, told me that while employers continue to postpone the return date for many employees, the data suggests that many employees want to return – but theirs own terms.

"You will not be completely absent from your colleagues," she told me. A survey their company carried out in collaboration with Iometrics found that only 6% would not want to work from home at all. 76% want to be in the office an average of 2.5 days a week. "Our forecast is that 25% to 30% of the workforce will continue to work from home for at least one day a week after the dust has settled, with the sweet spot being around 2.5 days."

Steelcase Office solutions for coronavirus revised

Source: Steelcase

While many enjoy working from home, Lister told me the feeling wasn't universal: "Some employees just don't want to work from home. Our survey found that the youngest employees had the hardest time. This is likely because that they don't have it. " a dedicated space at home, and because they need the subtle coaching that happens when everyone is in the office. "

What does this massive step towards flexible time both in the office and at home mean? "You actually have to size the office for peak flow," Keane told me. "You have to think about how many people will be in the office during the week? And that will determine the size of real estate for offices in the future."

Even so, it can take a little longer for people to get back half the time. Steelcase posted earnings this week, and while they were above expectations, the forecasts were disappointing. Dave Sylvester, SVP and CFO, stated, "While we've seen some improvement in the rate of decline in our order patterns in America lately over the previous year, daily business and project pipelines remain depressed due to ongoing business uncertainty and high numbers of Customers postponing their return to the office. "

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