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Innovative Office Fitout Ideas for 2021 and Beyond

Work

| By Katie Cunningham | March 26, 2021

COVID-19 has changed the way we work but a few easy tweaks can give you an innovative office fitout that will put your team at ease about coming back together.

These innovative office fitouts will help put your team at ease about returning to the workplace.

Ensuring your office is COVID-safe is an important task for every employer right now as staff begin to return to the workplace. A fitout that prioritises space and hygiene will make your employees feel comfortable about being back together – and help future-proof your workspace at the same time. The good news is that an innovative office fitout doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, simple changes such as reconfiguring furniture and increasing space in meeting rooms can make a world of difference. Here’s a few modern office fitout ideas for the post-COVID world.

The Future of Office Fitouts

What are innovative office fitouts of the future? Think wider corridors, bigger desks and siloed spaces.

Where and how we work is set to change in 2021 and beyond. In the past, offices were where we did everything but, these days, we’re more likely to see employees do at least some of their work remotely and then come together for collaboration. University of Sydney research has found most Australians want to be able to work from home an average of two days per week after the COVID pandemic. The office of the future needs to be a hub for co-workers to connect, which means devoting more space to meeting rooms and breakout spaces and less to desks or cubicles.

What’s more, many employees found flexibility to be a major benefit of the WFH era. Interior designer Monique Vuk, who works in office design, says that means employers need to think about how they can create less-rigid work environments moving forward, including what equipment staff will need if they are working in multiple locations.

“Giving employees laptops that can be plugged into computer monitors creates more flexibility in the office,” says Vuk. “That way, employees won’t be confined to a single location and have the ability and agency to move around the space as they see fit. Changing up your environment can mean adaptability to suit different office tasks and stress levels.”

This is also a good time to consider different styles of desks. “Working from home saw a rise in people needing treatment for back and neck issues,” says Vuk. “Ergonomic desk chairs and standing desks are definitely great tools in fighting physical injuries from long stints at a desk. Standing desks can also be useful when you require a bit of physical movement and an energy boost. Switching up your position can get the body and mind moving.”

There are plenty of different sit stand desks to choose from – including ones which can be placed on top of an existing desk – allowing staff to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. An external keyboard and mouse will help them work ergonomically on laptops, as will a laptop stand.

What to Try

COVID-Safe Office Fitout Furniture

Covid-safe furniture fitouts include individual desks, screens between teammates and larger meeting tables.

To slow the spread of viruses, the Australian government recommends staying 1.5 metres away from others wherever possible. That means the first step in creating a COVID-safe workspace is choosing a furniture fitout that gives staff adequate personal space.

A smart way to ensure staff members don’t feel crowded is to provide individual desks, which can easily be spaced apart, rather than tables where two or more people divvy up the space. If your office space doesn’t have enough room to switch to individual desks, consider adding desk dividers to create a physical barrier against airborne droplets. You can easily add dividers to existing desks, or go for side-by-side desks that are already fitted with a dividing screen. If your team hotdesks, freestanding acrylic screens that can easily be moved between any desk or table are a good option.

While Zoom helped us stay connected with colleagues through the early days of the pandemic, nothing can replace face-to-face communication. In-person meetings allow us to see the subtle but important body language and nonverbal cues we miss on camera. USC research suggests 80% of millennials still prefer meeting face-to-face, and meeting in person can also help team members’ focus, as 69% of people admit to browsing social media during audio-only conference calls.

Help staff stay distanced from each other during in-person meetings with large tables that offer room to spread out, or, for more informal catch-ups, offer individual chairs instead of long couches. You could use standing tables to create breakout spaces (removing office chairs means there’s fewer items to wipe down after the meeting is done) or even rethink how you do meetings all together – make space for 10-minute standing briefs each morning rather than a get-together around a table.

If your workspace includes a reception desk, or point of sale, a protection screen for your receptionist will help them feel safe greeting visitors to your office.

What to Try

How to Prioritise Hygiene in the Office

Any new innovative office fitouts should prioritise hygiene and sanitation .

It’s also important to ensure your workspace is as hygienic as possible. Hand sanitising stations placed at the door of your office will allow everyone who enters to quickly nix germs. Depending on your layout, you could opt for a hand sanitising floor stand or a wall mountable dispenser. If your team shares computers, ensure staff have hygienic wipes on hand to clean their machines after use.

Signs to place in the bathroom that remind staff and visitors to wash their hands are another important investment – and don’t forget about soap dispensers. If you run a small business, floor decals can help to remind customers to socially distance in queues and a maximum capacity wall sign is a good reminder of how many people can safely fit in certain rooms or spaces.

What to Try