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Shaon Sengupta, Edifice - How workplace design can contribute to the post-pandemic world

Shaon Sengupta, Edifice - How workplace design can contribute to the post-pandemic world

The industry's steps are in response to the information that they are receiving from healthcare researchers periodically related to the COVID – 19 spread. However, the core issue that the management across industries is facing today is the absence of concrete know-how on how the virus spreads. Initially, it was transmission via surfaces; hence designers across the globe worked towards developing infrastructure and touch-free products that are foot-operated and sensor-based. However, now we know that the virus also spreads extensively through the air. Hence it is a more significant issue of spatial segregation, isolation, and purification of ambient air. Thus, normalization will be a long-drawn process without immediate and instant solutions.   
With no clarity on how soon and if at all physical office spaces will be completely back to it’s original, organizations are investing heavily in online infrastructure and virtual spaces.
Companies are exploring multiple measures to be implemented in combination. These essentially constitute a reduction in human density by promoting work from home to the extent possible, cleanliness and frequent sanitization, monitoring and screening employees, and creating physical barriers between workspaces, outdoor collaborative zones, etc. Explorations regarding infection control methods implemented in healthcare design like 100% fresh air in high infection areas and HEPA filters are in progress. However, these are expensive options, and implementing these measures in large spaces will be a challenge.
Robust virtual infrastructure with necessary security protocols is the immediate way forward. In the long term, spaces will need to be designed with effective air purification and disinfection systems so that IAQ is maintained consistently to mitigate the viral load of the built environment. •

The challenge is to pre-empt the future and prepare for it. Developing workspaces infrastructure is time-consuming, and therefore it is crucial to foresee the possibilities that may unfold in the future and make for them in advance. Hence the more agile the organization, the more adaptive the workspaces that much more future proof we shall be.

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