There have been countless challenges that have sprung up as a result of COVID-19, and one unexpected implication of the global pandemic is the need to reassess office layouts. As businesses shift their focus toward safely accommodating employees in this new version of normalcy, some interesting office design trends are beginning to emerge.

Post-COVID Office Designs

In order to keep workers safe, the designs of many offices must necessarily be altered, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the aesthetic or functionality of your space in the process.

How to Change Your Office Design

When it comes time to redesign your workspace, these are some of the simplest measures you can take to complete the process:

  • Reconstruct how work is completed in your office — During COVID-19, many businesses have realized that even collaborative projects can be worked on from a distance; consider maintaining a fluid attitude when it comes to interaction with your new design.
  • Consider in-person and remote options — Not every employee needs to be physically present in the office at all times; changing the amount of time that workers spend in the space would allow you to cut down on the number of desks and offices needed.

Learn how to integrate remote working in a future workplace model by watching our webinar co-hosted with Deloitte titled ‘Back to Business: An essential guide for reopening the workplace

  • Redesign in a way that supports your organizational priorities — Businesses’ most pressing concerns have shifted to cleanliness and safety; this means that your new design will likely not feature large meeting places, but will hinge more on the use of technology for collaboration.
  • Get creative with resizing the floor footprint — Don’t be afraid to make major adjustments to your space; it’s okay to ask overarching questions and rethink your entire approach to the office’s layout.

Armed with these tips, you’ll be able to better tackle the task of redesigning your office in a post-COVID world. Fortunately, many others are grappling with the same concerns you are, so there are some useful patterns emerging to help you stay safe without compromising your style.

Office Design Trends

Though offices are only just beginning to reopen in earnest, these are the trends that we already see emerging as businesses navigate the redesign process:

Workstations that prioritize safe physical distance

  • Workstations that prioritize safe physical distance — Whether or not various governments continue to mandate their own social distance guidelines, employees will feel safer in offices that allow them to maintain their space; this means that more and more businesses will be looking for ways to safely configure desks.

open floor plans

  • Open floor plans — Already a popular design trend in modern offices, open floor plans are easier to clean and properly ventilate. However, the closer proximity of employees in an open floor plan can be challenging for distancing so consider options such as staggered arrival times, directing office foot traffic and staging areas for elevators.

hands free soap

  • Focus on intuitive furniture, appliances, and finishes — Employees will inevitably touch many of the same surfaces as their coworkers throughout the day, so businesses are beginning to focus more on finding solutions that are antimicrobial, touch-free and easy to sanitize frequently to put workers’ minds at ease.

covid conference room space management

  • Adjusting conference rooms — Sprawling conference rooms with tables that seat dozens of people are no longer practical. The new trend for conference rooms will focus on changing their use and adding more small meeting spaces to offices rather than prioritizing one or two large rooms. Consider using smaller conference rooms as individual workstations for single use.

unique office design

  • Embracing unconventional ideas — If ever there was a time to think outside the box, this is it. Creativity is the name of the game, and many businesses are willing to try completely new approaches with their redesigns.

COVID-19 has caused a seismic shift in many aspects of life as we know it, and office design is no exception. Fortunately, these design trends will make it easy to rethink your workspace without having to compromise on the functional elements you love.

At Trimble, we provide real estate and workplace management software solutions that helping customers support their return-to-the-office strategies. If you have a need for new technology to help with your workspace planning and booking, you can book a demo here or post your questions to us via our online form.

With Covid-19 forcing companies around the world to rethink how their offices will function when employees start to return to work, our friends over at Trimble SketchUp have highlighted six modelling and design steps that organizations can take to plot their journey back to a Covid-safe workplace. Here’s a summary…

Step 1: Create a 3D model of your workplace to help you understand its capacity

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace 3d model

All you need to get started is a CAD plan or just an image of your workspace, say the SketchUp team. And they should know. SketchUp is the fastest and easiest-to-use tool for creating a 3D model and collaborating on it remotely with your team. SketchUp even provides an online guide to boosting CAD to 3D workflow, as well as ‘Skill Builder’ videos showing architectural modelling tips.

Step 2: Populate your model with accurate 3D assets

Once the digital model of your office is ready, you can make it look more accurate and representative of the actual space by adding furniture, equipment and other assets. You can avoid having to model items from scratch by using SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, a digital library which contains over 4.5 million pre-built assets to suit any type of office setting.

Step 3: Optimize your space for the new social distancing norm

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace optimize

Customize your 3D model by using SketchUp Extensions to add functionalities that suit your specific modeling needs—including optimizing your workspace for safe distancing. You can also take advantage of cool ideas on how to rearrange furniture to fit the latest social distancing guidance.

Step 4: Get consensus for the new layout

After months of working remotely, your team might find it hard to adapt to the new office environment. You can help everyone become familiar with the new layout by uploading and sharing your 3D model with them via Trimble Connect. This will give your team an opportunity to comment on the model and voice any concerns. 

Step 5: Turn your updated 3D model into floor plans

Once your team gives you the green light, it takes only seconds to turn your 3D model into a 2D floorplan using LayOut, a tool that can generate drawings to scale and add annotations, dimensions or tags. The 2D document stays dynamically connected to the 3D model so any 3D changes are automatically reflected in your 2D drawings. Your LayOut document can then be shared as a PDF, DWG or an on-screen presentation.

Step 6: Design and deploy your operational plan

How 3D modelling can help you design your way back to a Covid-secure workplace real estate

Space layout is just one of many things that need to change to keep your team safe. Splitting your workforce into groups and managing logistics and services are equally important operational considerations. 

As you may know, the real estate group at Trimble has the technology to help organizations optimize workspace utilization and the management of people in the post-Covid workplace. We can help with:

  • Capacity and distancing planning: Auto-apply your physical distancing protocols to existing floor plan layouts and calculate the maximum capacity
  • Staff rotation to de-densify space: Efficiently split your teams into groups and formalize a rotating schedule.
  • Deploy, track, audit: Track the effectiveness and safety of the ‘new normal’.
  • Dynamically schedule space: Use our space scheduling software to empower employees to decide where they can sit safely.

You can read the full article—titled “Design Your Way Back to the Office”—on the SketchUp blog.

If you have an immediate need to address the unique workplace planning and management challenges created by Covid-19, please contact the Trimble real estate team at realestate@trimble.com for a demo or more information. 

Last week we hosted a webinar with HOK on the topic of planning, data and technology, and using it to define the new workplace.

In the session, experts Bill Mitchell (HOK), and Simon Blenkiron (Trimble Real Estate) provided an overview of the new workplace in the immediate impact of the pandemic. Simon covered insight and guidance on how existing technologies can assist organizations with planning and managing the return of an entire workforce in the coming months, while Bill, an architect who understands the challenges faced by corporate clients managing their real estate portfolios, shared a few emerging design insights from thought leaders.

Watch the webinar recording here

“Most companies have rapidly migrated to almost 100% work from home, except for essential staff who must be on site.” said Bill. “We cannot assume that the productivity connectivity and ergonomics are far better to see them as the long-term solution. We do know however that it was not the technology that was the factor.”

Bill added this is the new base that we will need to continue to leverage and seek to improve, as it may play a larger role in our long-term strategy.

HOK Role of Data in Workplace Design

From a technology perspective, Simon suggested we’re in a strange paradigm. “Real estate technology is used to help maximize utilization, but now it will be the technology used to help maintain social distancing in the workplace.” He added “This is a strange new world. The new normal where we’re utilizing technology to move from tracking to identifying available space to minimize occupancy.”

The bottom line is, do we want to continue living in isolation or will we seek equilibrium through design and technology. How will this new redefined workplace work?

To hear their recommendations on immediate and future considerations for workplace planning and design, watch Bill and Simon’s live session here: go.trimble.com/role-of-data-new-workplace-hok