As vaccines continue to be distributed, both employers and employees are readying themselves to return to the office. However, these spaces must undergo changes unlike ever before.
“What is the appropriate office design?” and “Which features will make occupants feel safe?” are just a few of the questions racing through the heads of project management teams at the moment.
One thing that is certain is the office will be less about serving as a productive space, and more about nurturing collaboration, community and wellness.
This means designing and equipping offices with technology-centric meeting spaces, private booths, improved HVAC systems, more outdoor space, plenty of natural light and more.
For instance, Fiona Haulter and GBT Realty’s development team were in the midst of finding a construction loan for the $141 million office project One22One in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood when the pandemic started to become a real concern.
Instead of scraping their plans, the team shifted their goal to become the city’s first major development of the pandemic era.
The development now features thermal-imaging cameras, UV lighting to kill viruses and elevators with a “destination dispatch” system to avoid overcrowding and high-touch areas.
“It’s not like we’re designing something today and then tomorrow we decide that we’ll go back to the old way because the virus is under control,” said Lee Zoller, CEO of Nashville-based firm Division Street Development. “I think that’ll be the new norm, because you don’t want to have to say your building doesn’t do what it can to protect its tenants.”