How office space is evolving to accommodate its many functions

When the Government called end to lockdown and lifted the floodgates which allowed life, both social and professional to resume, albeit in what we now call ‘the new kind of normal’, the Bluewood Team shared a socially distanced hi-five!

Businesses everywhere have felt the financial effects of the pandemic, including small businesses such as ours who were glad of the opportunity to begin to operate once more. But, as with many others, the landscape for us was extremely uncertain. As a business based on designing and refurbishing office space we were unsure as to whether businesses would even be returning to the office, let alone have the financial reserves to invest in refurbishment.

Embracing Evolution

Three months on and we are feeling the busy-buzz as we have secured a number of new, individual and exciting projects, despite Covid’s best efforts to sabotage, but have found that, like the rest of the professional world, we have had to accept and respond to a very new and evolving office environment as work space has taken on different functions.

The Bluewood Vision

Our approach to every project is not just functional but holistic in design and we focus hugely on the psychology and flow of the spaces we create. So, in preparation for the new world, we set out our two-part vision; short term and long term. Short term sees the function of the office as the provider of a social safety network, promoting communication outside of the virtual world. A positive and motivational environment which fosters an engaging culture, nurtures well-being and creates a sense of cohesion eliminating isolation and anxiety for employees. An environment that has been born in the aftermath of the recent pandemic. However, long term, this is not sustainable in isolation. A business cannot survive on a workforce alone. A business needs an identity, an environment to allow a brand to evolve, to facilitate growth and continual investment into its people by oversight and the creation of opportunity and a ‘home’ into which to welcome new employees that require immediate guidance and training. Both functions are critical and so how does this work in reality, in practice, in our ‘new normal’ and of course where Covid-19 becomes an additional consideration both in terms of logistics and cost?

Open or Closed?

An article published by the World Economic Forum, recognises two very opposing approaches. Global real estate company Cushman & Wakefield have created the “Six Feet Office” concept where offices adhere to the 6” or 2 metre rule should that continue to be imposed by Governments globally. Many of our clients have chosen this concept, creating open plan environments, re-structuring common spaces and break-out facilities to allow for social distancing, introducing infection protection screens as part of the overall safety solution ensuring every area within the work space does not compromise the social interaction previously enjoyed. The same article goes on to suggest that there may be a reverse trend, ‘leading to a closed plan future’ resulting in a “cellular” or “cubicle” approach and this week we have partnered with a business who have decided to do just that. Our latest project kicks-off next week, for the Nortek Group who design, develop and produce scientific instruments which measure water in motion. With an HQ in Norway, the Southampton contingent are re-locating to Ocean Village and we are excited to be working with them to design and install, amongst other works, 3 cubular, covid-secure micro-offices. For a company who have previously relied heavily on travel to operate and connect the restrictions have resulted in finding alternative solutions to interact and like with companies everywhere, a virtual approach to communication and function. These cubular offices will also provide privacy and quiet space for the Team to communicate with other colleagues via virtual platforms and ensure employees remain effective in their roles and allow the business to operate as effectively as before.

In addition to the cellular offices, we will be creating the design and finish, within the 900sq ft space, a Directors Office, Boardroom and break-out facility. Lighting will be re-adjusted to accommodate the new lay-out and additional electrical supplies will be installed.

The Nortek Journey

Come with us on the journey and watch the transformation of the space as we work to create a modern, contemporary and covid-safe environment for our client.

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