Workspaces Are Changing and Evolving Amid the Pandemic
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on July 28, 2020 |
Manufacturing production cells reopening businesses has meant rethinking and redoing workspaces.

As businesses prepare for eventual reopenings, changing health guidelines and employee safety have become more relevant than ever. That has led to rethinking workspaces across industries, as well as embracing technology to make that happen. Adjusting to the changing times is likely to result in returning to unfamiliar spaces and procedures.

For many businesses, stay-at-home orders meant instant planning to figure out a way for employees to work from home. While there may have been a few bumps in the road, it has been a solution that may end up being permanent or semipermanent in the future. Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t often work for hands-on industries, such as research and development labs and manufacturing production cells.

With social distancing becoming much more than a buzzword, figuring out a way to incorporate such a policy into a workspace can be a challenge. In an office setting, there will likely be a move away from collaborative space and open space plans. Instead, higher cubicles, plastic or glass partitions and individual offices may become the new norm.

Fixed or movable barriers, along with maintaining social distancing guidelines, will likely be included in new office layouts. (Image courtesy of SMARTdesks.)
Fixed or movable barriers, along with maintaining social distancing guidelines, will likely be included in new office layouts. (Image courtesy of SMARTdesks.)

Lab environments have new guidelines, which may require increasing the size of lab spaces and conducting enhanced planning in creating setups for experiments to limit the number of people involved. When that isn’t possible, looking at unused space and converting it into temporary flexible spaces that can be easily changed may be a solution.

In the manufacturing world, keeping a safe distance can be challenging. Most companies have significantly invested in designing efficient work cells, but they have been forced to go back to the drawing board. Along with having to reorganize layouts, knowing for sure whether the new layouts will conform to new procedures is difficult. Planning ahead with simulation software, incorporating robotics where possible, and using wearable technology to help maintain distancing are a few ways that manufacturers can more quickly get back on track.

ProGlove upgraded its products to include proximity sensing for workers. (Image courtesy of ProGlove.)
ProGlove upgraded its products to include proximity sensing for workers. (Image courtesy of ProGlove.)

Across industries, technology will be playing a key role in whatever changes are needed for each unique situation. Moving to no-touch layouts and features will be a main way to promote safety. Instead of touching door handles, light switches or keypads, automatic doors, keycard entries and motion- or voice-activated equipment can be installed.

Regardless of the job, breaks are a necessity, especially eating mid-shift. Companies that are fortunate enough to have a cafeteria on-site may not be so lucky anymore. Changes will mean closing or redesigning communal spaces, as well as figuring out the best way to keep workers safe while they dine. It could mean a move toward encouraging dining away from work, installing booths or plastic guards, or spreading breaks out to limit the number of people gathering in a break room at one time.

No matter the industry or profession, this pandemic has proven that change is ever-constant and requires thinking outside the box. While some changes are difficult, whatever new workspaces people are finally able to go back to might just end up with more perks than expected.


Interested in learning more about how COVID-19 has fueled change in other industries? Check out How COVID-19 Is Accelerating Telemedicine Technology and Construction in the New Age Means Embracing Technology.


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