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A common sense approach to post-COVID workspace planning

May 31, 2020
  • Workplace

The knee-jerk 'let's put loads of sneeze-screens everywhere' has thankfully subsided. What we are learning is that the transformations our workplaces have been experiencing for the past 10 years or so, will get turbocharged in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the day, a lot of the disciplines involved in trying to implement more agile, flexible working lend themselves to lower volumes of people coming into the office. 


Companies like PwC have for some time configured their workplaces as clusters of different work settings all spaced out one from the other. By reducing the density and number of people using the space, you will be able to work safely in line with social distancing guidelines more easily. To support more agile, flexible, remote working, we will have to recalibrate the number of assigned versus unassigned desks available. The greater shift to 'hotelling' will require more personal storage such as lockers.


We ourselves have experimented with a few plexi-screens here and there, and some freestanding PET screens that also assist with acoustics and space delineation. We will be encouraging people to make use of what is already there in the way of meeting rooms, ensuring the number of people in them is reduced. As time goes on, we will have to reassess our team and visitor requirements. 


Our customers have worked with us to co-create unique solutions to their evolving workplace needs. The impact of COVID-19 will shape discussions and ideas for some time to come. Whether that will require a modification of existing spaces and furniture, or a completely new design - we are well equipped to help. Our Infinity from KI team have extensive design and engineering capabilities and work with an agile supply chain, so we are able to respond quickly to customer requests with rapid prototyping and very cost-effective manufacturing. Not every time someone comes up with 'new sliced bread' is it 'new sliced bread'; they might just have a spin on it. But sometimes it can be an entirely new and novel ground-up design. What we offer is an engineering and enabling capability that can make it a reality. We have in the past developed systems with companies like Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. We still do that, with Facebook and a number of other clients in the finance, professional services and legal sectors. We offer them and their architects engineering support - like an Arup to a Foster. 



by Jonathan Hindle  Group Managing Director - EMEA, KI

Jonathan originally trained as an architect/designer before moving into sales and marketing in office furniture and property. His expertise covers real estate, workplace strategy and product design just to name a few. Jonathan founded the Design Guild Mark in 2007, now the UK's leading recognition for volume production furniture, textiles and finished surfaces. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers, and the Chairman of the British Furniture Confederation (BFC), the single voice of the furniture, furnishing and bed industries to the UK government.

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