In part 1 of this post I talked about trends for workspace areas. In this follow-up I will be talking about the "other spaces" - specifically conference rooms and pantries - that complement workspace to create a complete office environment.
Until now most conference rooms have been designed to accommodate as many people as possible. However the new climate requires more personal space. To facilitate this, about 1/3 of the existing chairs should be removed. While it may sound drastic, it shouldn't actually impact meeting attendance; with more people working remotely, there will be fewer in person attendees.
Speaking of remote attendees, it is essential to upgrade the quality of video conferencing systems. Whether it's Teams, Webex, or Zoom, a robust system with appropriate in room cameras, speakers, and microphones is a must. Work with an AV specialist to find the system that meets your needs; as more people call in remotely, the system must be able to keep up.
It is also critical to rethink acoustics and lighting. Most conference rooms have been designed with a focus on in person meetings, with the addition of basic video conferencing for the minority of attendees not in physical attendance. As such, acoustic and lighting concerns have been designed at best for the room itself, and definitely not for the far end.
As more people participate virtually, greater concern and investment should be given to the far end’s experience of the room. This may mean changes like less glazing, fewer hard or reflective surfaces, more acoustically sensitive materials, and different lighting fixtures and layouts
One of the most profound changes we can make in our environment is through the thoughtful selection of materials, and no where is this more important than in pantries. Many materials once considered sufficient for commercial workplaces, in terms of porosity, scratch resistance, and durability will no longer be seen as such. Instead, we will turn to the high performance materials of the healthcare industry, such as:
Monolithic Surfaces: Counter-tops, especially in wet environments like pantries and restrooms, should be constructed of solid surface materials, like acrylics, engineered quartz, and recycled glass, instead of plastic laminates, which are not as durable or moisture resistant, and are prone to de-lamination. or natural stone, which is more porous and difficult to maintain.
Sinks should be mounted from below, rather than dropped in, to create an unobstructed path to guide dirt and crumbs directly into the basin. Drop in sinks create a ridge that typically traps dirt and is difficult to clean.
Similarly, faucets should have integrated levers to minimize the penetrations in the counter-top, and wherever possible soap and paper towel dispensers should be wall mounted and automated.
I hope you all find these recommendations helpful, there are so many other small but powerful changes you can make in your offices, particularly with respect to materials. If you'd like to talk specifically about your office, please reach out to schedule a free consultation!
Till next time...