Fancy George
Senior Director, KGD – A Katerra Design Partner

The World Health Organization maintains it is ‘Physical distancing’ and not ‘Social distancing’

The right description (I would agree) for one of the preventive measures specified for our safety from COVID 19 by this global health body who also said that while maintaining a physical distance was “absolutely essential” amid the global pandemic, it does not mean that ‘ we have to disconnect from our loved ones and from our family.

While India is following this directive right now with a complete lock down, there will come a time when we head back to the office and engage with the new norm.

As I am writing this, I think of little things that matter to me from washing my hands, getting enough exercise, breathing right and breathing pure air, walking to welcome the early rays of the Sun, eating healthy foods to build up my immunity, to getting on virtual team calls to connect with my colleagues I am just so happy to see their faces!

“In the words of Yuval Noah Harari in the Financial times
‘This storm will pass But the choices we make now could change our lives for years to come’ ”

Covid 19 will impact the workplace in many areas So, what are the changes we are most likely to see At this point, I can imagine several factors that will be considered in the design of our workplace going forward We will want to feel safe, healthy, happy, secure and respected. Hence, a well designed environment considering this would be key to a successful and comfortable new Normal some affecting factors could be

Contactless solutions/ touchless design solutions are already being used in rest rooms of the workplace but this could be taken a step further for entrance doors/ elevators/ door less entries like the airports with sensor activated controls or even an App off your phone that allows one to open doors with a wave of a hand

A big push for Healthy foods served in the cafeteria to improve one’s immunity (we could be going back to our ancient Ayurvedic diet)

Antimicrobial finishes used in hospitals may be used for interior surfaces/ finishes/ furniture/ doors, hardware etc especially in the community spaces Biomimicry could play a huge part here Use of copper and brass that have been shown to self sanitize may be a consideration for hardware this was traditionally used in our homes

Being minimalistic in our home and work habits from minimizing our waste and pushing to adopt clean energy with a less carbon impact on our world

A larger focus on physical fitness and mental comfort with outdoor sports and Yoga combined with creative pursuits yes, we have all discovered our hidden talents sitting at home, haven’t we?

Air filtration systems and ventilation systems isolated for public spaces like the lobbies/ cafeteria/ amenity spaces to prevent contamination into the workplace. Consideration to be given to pump in a higher volume of fresh air as well. Emphasis on daylight design solutions.

Maybe try to be a global citizen contributing and supporting the global community and disengaging from geopolitics

And finally here is my favorite part and one that I do believe we have heavily ignored and should be considered an important aspect of workplace planning.

Most times we are inside a conditioned space with artificial light and air for a minimum of 8 hours a day so maybe we need to mandatorily conduct our work outside of the office on a regular basis, build outdoor meeting spaces or collaborate in a natural setting on the terrace or it could be under a tree…

Maybe a Bodhi tree, after all the BUDDHA found enlightenment under one!