Smaller Cabins, Sanitation Kiosks: What Future Offices Look Like

Office spaces as we know it will be a thing of the past, no thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated14 Jul 2020, 07:13 AM IST
Coronavirus
4 min read

Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim

The coronavirus pandemic has brought in a paradigm shift in the way we 'work'. As a long-term impact of this, 'office spaces' as we know it might be a thing of the past.

While some of us are yet to get back to physical workspaces, a few others have – with staggered timings, limited employees, and stringent sanitisation measures, among others.

So, is this the end of a place called 'office'? Are the desks and laptops in our living rooms here to stay for a long time?

Akshat Bhatt, Principal Architect, Architecture Discipline believes that it is "too soon" to dismiss a physical workspace as most 'office' work is also about exhange of ideas. Speaking to The Quint, he said:

“I would not dismiss a campus just so quickly. The need for larger communities is not just about money. It is about various functions being housed close together, do need to be closed together for the exchange of ideas and for the exchange of values. That can’t just be dismissed.”

However, he added that an office space will be less dense for a significant time from now on.

Smaller Cabins, Sanitation Kiosks: What Future Offices Look Like
(Illustration by Erum Gour/TheQuint)

‘Minimal Designs, More Distance Between People’

According to Meena Murthy Kakkar, Design Head and Partner, Envisage, when you return to office, you are likely to find far less tables and chairs, and a partition between work stations, if you are in an open-office set up.

You are also likely to find screening.

“Grab their table, grab their chair, sit in the corner and work. When they have to collaborate,they pull the chairs together, pull their desk together – and the Google Jam Board comes in and the office itself turns into a meeting zone. If you already have an office and cannot turn it like this, then you need to install clip-on partitions between work stations. Have some screening devices between team tables so that one team stays together and another team stays together.”
Meena Murthy Kakkar to The Quint
Smaller Cabins, Sanitation Kiosks: What Future Offices Look Like
(Illustration by Erum Gour/TheQuint)

‘Every Office Space To Have Sanitisation Kiosk’

However, one area of the office that is likely to be expanded is the reception area. Both Kakkar and Bhatt agree that while offices may not entertain employees and guests like they did earlier, anyone who enters will have to go through a sanitisation process.

Smaller Cabins, Sanitation Kiosks: What Future Offices Look Like
(Illustration by Erum Gour/TheQuint)
“For instance, in the reception, if you have a bigger waiting zone, you turn that into a sanitisation zone. The minute you enter, you understand, okay, there is a temperature check kiosk. You have a humid machine,you have your hand sanitizer. You have a small box, wherein you can disinfect your bags. Everyone is going to carry a laptop bag. So that also needs to get disinfected.”
Meena Murthy Kakkar to The Quint

Reception desks may now have a ‘sneeze screen’, which is essentially a panel between the receptionist and the visitor. In some cases, the reception area might also be expanded to have a small sitting place so that meetings can be conducted then and there.

Offices on The Go, Satellite Offices to be More Prominent

The architects say that another major change that one will witness in the COVID world, with regard to office spaces, is that there will be fewer headquarters but many more smaller, satellite workspaces.

For example, instead of having one big headquarters in Gurugram, an organisation may prefer to have smaller offices in Delhi, Noida and Gurugram.

Smaller Cabins, Sanitation Kiosks: What Future Offices Look Like
(Illustration by Erum Gour/TheQuint)
“Another way to look at workspace is also how eventually maybe, smaller workspaces start coming to you. You could probably be not just working out of home but you could also be working while you are on the move.”
Akshat Bhatt

But for the architects, designing an office space just got more complicated.

“I would just say that we need to stop jumping to conclusions and we need to analyse every situation for what it is and be ready for things to change, as and when. You can’t say, I have designed this and that’s done. This situation is such that every few days is going to throw up something unseen,” said Kakkar.

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Published: 08 Jul 2020, 12:14 PM IST
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