3 things that will be different about the office after coronavirus crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the commercial property sector worldwide like a battering ram, and no one yet knows when the reverberations will stop being felt, or where the industry will eventually end up.
But there is one certainty: nothing will ever be quite the same again.
1. Healthy and smart buildings are going to be in more demand
There’ll be a reset going forward for better offices with sustainable, healthy, and smart building design, says Shane Quinn, executive chairman and co-founder of commercial and industrial property company Quintessential Equity.
“Healthy and smart buildings are going to be at the forefront of the post-COVID world,’ said Mr. Quinn, whose previous project on Malop Street in Geelong for WorkSafe was the second building in the world to be WELL Core & Shell Platinum-Certified.
“Businesses and workforces will want to feel safe when they return to the office. We’ve been working on this for some time, but people need to know that the air quality and everything about that building is safe from a health perspective. Having smart technology will also improve health outcomes as it will lead to a lot of touchless surfaces being built into buildings as standard.
“We need to pivot as an industry to demonstrate this to tenants and future-proof buildings. I think that the WELL rating system is going to be more and more popular in a commercial context. While workforces are likely going to be more agile than before, there is an opportunity for the office sector to reinvent itself – to create an attraction and draw people in.”
2. Greenery will spring up in offices again
Just as the GFC led to a resurgence in the popularity of gardening and kitchen gardens, the COVID-19 pandemic looks as if it’ll do the same with plantings in offices, says Matt Cantwell, managing director of Secret Gardens.
“Whenever people are under stress or there’s uncertainty, they tend to look for things that make them feel more grounded and physically and mentally better,” he said.
“We all know about the air-cleaning quality of forests and trees and, while greenery in the office probably won’t make a huge difference, it does make us feel healthier.
“I have a little aloe vera plant on my desk which I water three times a year and, while it doesn’t look much, it always makes me feel good.”
3. More functions will be held to mark the new normal
There’ll be a fresh air of celebration in workspaces going forward, says Office National’s Gavin Ward.
“People will be in more of the mood to celebrate milestones across the office,” he said. “That could be your first week or month back at the office. We’re recommending finding out people’s birthdays, keeping a tab on world days, and finding lots of things to celebrate.
“For that, companies can hand out party hats and blow up a few balloons, distribute packets of biscuits and lollipops. Individually-wrapped treats and biscuits are ideal as they can be handed out to people and don’t require sharing. And by everyone's new stationery. Everyone loves good stationery.”