READ TIME: 5+ Mins
With the start of a new decade, everyone, including myself, was expecting something special to unfold this year. Well, COVID-19 was not what exactly everyone anticipated, but it sure has shaken up daily life. Human interaction nowadays is minimal as people have grown distant to one another. As we wait for new updates by the government and health officials, there is a sense of anxiety lingering all around the world.
The workplace has also been impacted significantly. The open office layout and shared spaces that encouraged collaboration between employees are now shunned. Social distancing and routine sanitizing are encouraged as companies respond to guidelines set by the CDC. The work environment has forever been changed as companies start to reopen their buildings once again. When we thought of office essentials, masks, gloves and hand sanitizer were not the first things to come to mind. However, today organizations can’t possibly ensure safety without personal protective equipment.
So, what’s next for the workspace? With a lot of questions in mind, I got chance to interview the one and only Phil Allin, Executive Vice President of Interiors by Guernsey. Don’t worry, we took this interview online and practiced social distancing!
2020 has been an interesting year, how have you been responding to this pandemic?
After a fabulous year in 2019 with many high profile and fun projects, this year has been the perfect storm. The workplace has changed dramatically from ”let’s work together and collaborate” to electronic communications and distance problem-solving. Interiors by Guernsey has worked with our manufacturing partners to bring to market solutions – both short term and long term – that will make the workplace healthier and safer for employees and guests. As the workplace reopens, our team is working with customers to identify areas that can be reconfigured, either providing barriers or making panels taller, as well as giving folks space to spread out.
Many of our customers’ big plans to move and expand have been quickly shelved or delayed. We have refocused our business to leverage our previous experience with hospitals, medical centers, and doctors’ offices to bring the Healthy Workplace to our business, educational, and government customers. Our goals are to take the lemons and make delicious lemonade!
What efforts has Interiors & Guernsey taken to meet CDC guidelines?
We have closely followed the CDC guidance, which at times has meant tacking like a sailboat into headwinds. As a company, Guernsey, Inc. has committed to walking the talk and has implemented several new policies, procedures, and best practices for keeping its facilities and people safe. The company has invested in modifications to workstations and the reception areas so that everyone entering the building goes through a health screening that includes having their temperature taken and answering a series of questions. Common areas like refreshment stations and the breakrooms undergo twice daily sanitation. In addition, each employee is required to clean and sanitize their work area on every Tuesday and Friday.
In terms of office furniture and layouts, what must change now?
The trend to work close and collaborate has come to a quick halt. Companies are trying to find solutions to allow their staff to use their existing work areas with more separation. Barriers are all the buzz right now as companies try to determine if we are facing a short term or long-term problem. That decision will have financial consequences as employers will need to retrofit work areas. The demand for today is more space and more privacy, but do not close them in. The Interiors team is using lots of glass for a variety of benefits including its easy to clean aspect and allowing light to flow through.
What recommendations do you make for companies trying to reopen their workplace?
Get in touch with us now! Be the first in line as a lot of analysis is necessary to be able to present the best solution for each customer and their circumstances. The Interiors team knows the spectrum of products to fit each design and budget.
It is doubtful that anyone envisioned the COVID pandemic and had retrofitting or reconfiguring their offices in their budget for 2020. Our team will work closely with our customers to understand their priorities and map out a game plan that balances resources with what must be done to create that healthy and safe workplace.
How do you envision the future workplace?
The workplace is forever changed by the vast improvement, reliance, and acceptance of electronic communication. Employers who once thought that people could only be productive while physically at their workplace have learned that tools like GoToMeeting and Zoom can be used to gather, train, collaborate, and communicate.
I see the workplace remaining a critical hub for business. We are social people and we like to move in teams and packs. There is no substitute for looking a co-worker in the eyes, seeing their body language, and understanding the true tone of the message they are trying to share as communication is more than the voice of an image on a screen.
Times are tough now, but we can get through it together. We know every workplace is unique, and we look to align with your specific goals for the long term. Let’s chat today about reconfiguring your office layout and fostering a workplace that is both safe and productive. Click here to learn more about retrofitting and the Post-COVID Workplace.
Have questions or interested in more? Contact Us!
Header image provided by the HON company