The change of attitude in the New Normal workplace


The Philippine government declared the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last March 16, 2020. And in less than three months, the pandemic has radically rewired processes we have known both in life and at work. The biggest process that most of us are all redefining is how to relate to the needed space apart from each other, also known as social distancing that we all need to apply resuming back to the workplace.

The challenge is clear. Workplaces must adapt. Yet, how do we design a workplace that responds not just to fear and anxiety, or the invisible threat of germs, but the full range of learned behaviors and attitudes that have evolved through the COVID-19 crisis?

The new normal workplace will now have to accommodate the heightened consciousness of space. This new mentality on space and touch, aid in germ mitigation and creates a comfortable, reassuring environment in the workplace.

The management should be able to communicate to the entire workplace that the workforce should be viable to adapt and accept that we’ve entered the new normal. Accelerate best practices around collaboration, flexibility, inclusion, and accountability.

Personal safety will be a priority, the “New Normal” workplace design is set to provide supportive features to reinforce a sense of safety and empower employees. Workplaces will need to adopt exceedingly clear and consistent communication protocols. Incorporating display safety signages will be applied as a mandated design for office communications throughout the floorplan. These said signages will play an important role. Signs that highlight what users can do as opposed to what they cannot in the workplace will assist in achieving higher reassurance from the employees.

Lastly, the need for mental health and well-being activities are to be a priority. The current crisis involves anticipatory grief compounding effects on those living with depression. Employers will need to invest in wellness and welfare well-being strategies to implement within the workplace.

To reimagine how to find the right balance between communal and private space. Designating separate, quiet, calm and truly private rooms offer flexible support for heads-down work, personal phone calls, or just a restful break. Such strategies still include the biophilic design, ergonomic work settings, and access to both active and meditative exercise activities. These options are best relevant and should receive more attention as the workforce return to the office from lockdown.

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