The pandemic affected nearly every aspect of our lives, and, as we are rounding the bend, individuals, organizations, and governments around the world are working hard to reinvent new and safe ways to do just about everything – from how we buy groceries to how we work. While a number of companies have announced that they will allow employees to continue working remote full time, others simply can’t afford waiting any longer to bring their workforce back to the office.


Providing a safe work environment for those will be critical in not only beating the pandemic, but also in keeping the economic recovery in motion. Below we’ll discuss a few essential office improvements that both businesses and landlords should consider implementing.


1. HVAC System Upgrades

Indoor air quality will continue to be a top priority for businesses, whose operations require a large number of in-office employees. In addition to the COVID-19 virus, there are thousands of other airborne pathogens that can cause allergies, respiratory illnesses, and other health issues. Poor indoor air can lead to lower employee productivity and higher absenteeism due to illnesses. Implementing a few low-cost HVAC upgrades and adjustments in most cases will be sufficient to reduce the pathogen concentration and improve the outdoor air delivery throughout the building.


2. Divided Work Spaces

Once all the hype, the open-plan office layout was effectively annihilated by the pandemic. Without physical barriers, a single sneeze could spread the virus across an entire floor. Simply spacing employees’ workstations further away from each other will not be enough to combat infection spreads. Instead, companies should consider reconfiguring the space with private offices or high divider cubicles in order to provide employees with a safe, personal space.


3. Install Video Conferencing Equipment

Many companies are expected to embrace the hybrid workplace model for the long term, offering employees the flexibility to work remote at least part time. This increased mobility means that more and more work will have to be done via teleconferencing. Providing sufficient AV equipment at every one of your locations will be critical to the continuous communication and collaboration between office and remote employees. Video conferencing can also help you work with clients globally without the expense and health risks of air travel for face-to-face meetings.


4. Touch-Free Facilities

Frequently touched surfaces can also turn into a major source of virus transmission. Elevator buttons, kitchen and restroom faucets, and door handles are touched hundreds of times a day in offices and other public buildings. Replacing manual doors with sliding or revolving glass entrances and upgrading restrooms with sensor-based fixtures can dramatically reduce the number of surfaces where disease transmission typically occurs. There are also several smart tech elevator systems, which allow building occupants to call the elevators and select destination floors using an app on their smartphones.


5. Socially Distant Interior Design

The office of 2019 was designed with collaboration in mind, boasting large open desk areas and other gathering spaces. In a complete 180-degree turn, the office of today calls for social distancing and personal safety bubbles. Whether companies choose to completely remodel or just rearrange the existing furniture, the focus should be on eliminating areas that used to draw large impromptu gatherings, such as lobbies, break-rooms, and water coolers. Instead, there should be multiple smaller spots throughout the office where employees can get coffee or water, wash hands, or have a quick chat with a coworker. Creating attractive open-air sitting spaces is also a great way to encourage workers to take their lunch, conduct a meeting, or simply work outdoors for awhile.


Prefer to find an office that is already outfitted for the post-pandemic way of life? Our tenant representatives can help you locate the ideal property in any market. We can also negotiate lease renewals and tenant improvement allowances with your landlord, dispose of any existing assets, and more.


Here are a few other articles we think you'll enjoy:

The 3 R's of CRE - Part 1: Right-Size

The 3 R's of CRE - Part 2: Renegotiate

5 Reasons Why Companies Are Fleeing CA and NY for FL and TX


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