The COVID-19 pandemic has everyone evaluating what comes next for their business. With many employees currently working from home, what kind of office environment will they go back to once stay at home restrictions are lifted? There is no doubt that those returning to work in office environments will be required to maintain social distancing standards. This will result in a complete review of the workplace design strategy and changes to previous furniture concepts and layouts. Offices with raised access floors and Underfloor Air Distribution will be at a significant advantage for companies to address these measures. The reconfigurability, improved air quality, personal airflow control and variety of hard finishes to choose from have always made access floors an ideal building material for future proofing your office.
One of the first changes we will see upon the return to the office is reconfiguring the space. Many companies have embraced the open office concept, where cubicles and closed offices were replaced with a larger percentage of benching and collaborative spaces. Unfortunately, this type of office layout will become less desirable after coronavirus. Companies are already starting to develop plans to revert to partitioned and separate working areas to help establish a safer, healthier working environment. Our full line of Containment Partitions is helping companies create separate workstations to maintain social distancing, while also maintaining a collaborative space. These office dividers can be fully customized to fit into your existing office space, which makes them a quick and effective solution. If reconfiguring the space is a better option for your office, raised access floors and underfloor service distribution will make those changes much easier. Underfloor services can be routed throughout the offices as needed by lifting the floor panels and rearranging power, data and HVAC to accommodate the new layouts. This makes it possible to add individual work areas throughout the office quickly and without limitations or major interruptions in workflow.
Another major factor that companies will need to address is the indoor air quality of their office. Offices with underfloor air distribution (UFAD) will be in great position to address this concern. UFAD systems utilize the raised floor to create an air distribution plenum to improve indoor environmental quality and modularity of design. This allows air to naturally rise to a ceiling return without mixing the volume of air in the space, pulling contaminants and CO2 away from occupants. Many qualified organizations have written about the benefits of UFAD systems in the office, including Buro Happold in their recent article, Engineering healthy workplaces – Considerations in response to COVID-19. UFAD systems also improve flexibility and control by allowing for easy diffuser reconfiguration in reaction to the addition of more private offices, huddle rooms and other layout changes. Each diffuser can be thermostatically or manually controlled so employees can adjust the amount and direction of airflow in their personal workspace.
With all these changes happening in commercial offices across the world, it’s important to remember that aesthetics and design are also still very important to maximize productivity. One design trend we foresee in the post-COVID-19 business landscape is the transition from soft materials to hard surfaces that are easier to clean and disinfect. Tate’s line of architectural finishes include wood, STONEWORKS®, resilient finishes, porcelain and more in a variety of colors and materials that fit any office design and are easy to keep clean and sanitized. These factory-applied finishes can be easily installed into an existing access floor to replace carpeting and maintain the versatility and convenience that an access floor offers.
If you look back a few months ago, before coronavirus completely changed the way we live and work, you never would have been able to guess how drastically things would change in such a short amount of time. By futureproofing your office space with raised access floors, you can quickly and easily adapt to unforeseen challenges like COVID-19 without major interruptions. You can rearrange your office environment as new standards and recommendations become available and improve the indoor air quality through underfloor air distribution without sacrificing style and aesthetics.
Our team is here to help you prepare for your return to the office. For more information about our Containment Partitions, visit our website. Fill out the page’s form and we will contact you about your office needs.