By Mr. Sudhir Thorat, Managing director of APICES Studio Pvt.Ltd.
COVID-19 has altered our lives in more ways than one can imagine. As workplaces return to the buzz of their workforces, they are also witnessing a new dimension in design because most people are known to touch shared surfaces without thinking much about it. Architects and business owners are now implementing new ideas that have emerged as a direct result of the growing awareness of the importance of a touchless office concept.
A broader range of uses for building automation is required if it is to contribute to a safer workplace. More filtering and ventilation won’t be able to prevent or decrease the next pandemic’s impacts, either. The corporate sector will have to recognize the requirement of a touchless workplace environment if employees are going to feel comfortable going back to an office with hundreds of others.
Offices are today designed with clearer separation between private and public areas. With a stronger emphasis on user control and comfort, the workstation is additionally private and tailored to the individual’s needs. The psychological benefits of taller partitions and smart space divisions utilizing flexible, sustainable items cannot be stressed.
Blending the correct digital tools into the physical office space helps ease some employees’ apprehensions about returning to work after the pandemic. Before the outbreak, touchless technology was seen as a nice addition to workspace design. These touchless solutions have progressed from a nice-to-have to a must-have for assuring worker safety.
More than just a physical location, a phygital office design encompasses the full spectrum of modern business. Whether one prefers to work in a huge conference room, a secluded space, or even on the terrace, this area is designed to promote everyone’s health and happiness. Because of the rapid growth of digitization in the workplace, the traditional concept of a workplace has shifted.
The epidemic has made it harder than ever to tell when someone is physically present vs merely online. This modern, agile design approach to the workplace requires the strategic integration of digital resources, accelerated skill development, and enthusiastic participation from all team members.
Considering the present organizational problem of keeping up with the new methods of working while maintaining flexibility and competitiveness, phygital offices will prove to be an amazing answer as they can contribute to the development of a more cohesive work environment.
Because they offer a safe way to go between floors, elevators are an essential component of any high-rise building design. Touchless elevators are greatly motivated by the desire to keep our hands off public surfaces since elevator buttons are regularly touched and can generate viruses. They offer added flexibility and ease of use, work seamlessly with technology, and are safe and secure.
Some of these cutting-edge lifts use cloud computing and elevator access technologies that are compatible with mobile devices, while others employ haptic technology to control buttons between floors. Furthermore, this makes riding an elevator a more pleasant experience for everyone. As a long-term solution, a touchless elevator is a great asset to any modern, progressive office with multiple floors.
Smartphone as key
Touchless technologies can be designed in multiple ways to ensure they contribute to making the workplace more flexible for employees. Contactless solutions eliminate the need for the actual presence of formerly essential workplace characteristics.
For example, we no longer require RFID access key cards. With everyone having a smartphone today, there is no reason for anyone to continue touching potentially hazardous surfaces. In the aftermath of the pandemic, smartphones are helping bridge the digital and real worlds through office automation. Workplace design and technology advancements are being pushed by the desire to reduce the number of surfaces employees must interact with.
Open office layouts
From an architectural standpoint, the concept of open offices arose out of a desire to foster collaboration, improve team morale, and save overhead costs by sharing office space. Think about how employees will communicate with one another, whether it’s in person, over the phone, on social media, by email or instant message, and so on. How long it should be and whether it should take place in real-time through a meeting, huddle, etc., or in a delayed fashion through a message, a post, etc.
Post-pandemic designs show that architects agree that more open or adaptable structural layouts and floor plans are forming the norms for the built environment of the future. The concept behind these layouts is to ensure that workers’ quality of life does not decline because of workplace transformation, which includes going touchless. Open office layouts are also becoming more common thanks to developments in building automation technology.
Cloud, IoT-based applications
As more firms switch to a hybrid or flex office design, a straightforward way of managing and tracking room capacity is required. This will keep the place from being overcrowded, which is essential for maintaining a happy and productive environment. One simple way to accomplish this is to reserve desk space or a conference room via a mobile app. Road to cloud-based software with a mobile app that allows workers to plan desk or breakroom use while on the road.
Employees now more easily coordinate team meetings thanks to apps that provide access to their mobile devices, thanks to the incorporation of cloud-based technology into the workspace design. Instead of exchanging emails, they now utilise these apps to determine which days the office space is available.
Similarly, smart architectural designs connected with IoT ensure that conference room projectors and lighting, photocopiers, and coffee machines may all work together in a touchless workplace structure. Employees have remote access from their computers to perform tasks without having to touch any of them.
Planning for Future
Integrating tech with design has also helped get back many employees who relocated away from their company headquarters, during the pandemic. Using different space design strategies now allows property managers and tenants to see how physical structures will be used in the future. Touchless offices will guide future designs, reflecting lessons from the pandemic and successfully using a larger overall space for a reduced number of users.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: