Post-COVID-19, the idea of the office itself may change. With more Canadians adapting to working from home, leaders are asking themselves why employees need to come into the office at all. Some employees may continue working at home indefinitely, with the office serving as a hub for meetings and collaboration. In any case, the traditional office is gone for the foreseeable future thanks to new COVID-19 regulations such as social distancing and hand hygiene awareness requirements.
Designers will need to take ergonomics into account when designing and installing new office furniture. For example, workstations will require plexiglas dividers and floor markers to help people maintain social distancing, and the chairs and desktops need to be easy to sanitize and provide ergonomic support.
More Personal Space
Post-pandemic office space must accommodate the proper distance between desks, and there are several logistics to work out to keep employees productive. For example, new occupancy rules may cause long lines for temperature checks and elevator use.
Revised seating plans will maintain physical distancing and accommodate sanitation stations. This reverses the trend to cram more workers closer together in downtown hubs. However, studies suggest that the open-plan office resulted in workers calling in sick more often long before COVID.
Shift work can help avoid some of the costs of acquiring new office space. Employees could maintain their ergonomic equipment and furniture at their old workstations, with distance requirements achieved by staggered shifts.
Ergonomic Furniture at Home and Work
Public Safety Canada has encouraged employers to maintain ergonomic accommodations for workers who need them. Some employees may use specialized ergonomic equipment at work but have no access to such equipment when working from home.
These employees may need to work regularly from the office with the prescribed ergonomic equipment. Alternately, employers can accommodate the employee with ergonomic equipment at home as a temporary or permanent measure.
Considerations for Ordering Ergonomic Furniture
Besides taking into account that employees may need support at home, office designers and managers may have longer wait times for ordered products due to a slower production process to get chairs, risk pads, dual monitors and other ergonomic items that keep employees comfortable and productive.
If employees work part-time in the office and part-time at home, encourage them not the remove ergonomic equipment from the office for sanitary and inventory management reasons.
Adapting your office to meet COVID-19 regulations will bring changes for everyone, and the more planning you do upfront, the better your company can accommodate new challenges that arise in the post-pandemic office space.