By Ashish Bhutani, CEO, Bhutani Group
The office and commercial spaces have seen a robust growth over the past years in India, and introduction of new trends like Co-working spaces provided flexible space to the businesses. However, past few months have made everyone wary of crowded places, a trend that will also have an impact on co-working spaces. Making the new normal as Work from Home, the commercial properties like business parks, towers and co-working hubs must be prepared for the challenging way forward. Rather than investing in costly remodels, better and cost-effective option is trying to reconfigure existing spaces, with an eye towards giving employees the peace of mind needed to return. This will not only help them stand out from the rest, but will also make things easier, safer and convenient for its inmates when they return back now with Corona fear still lingering on their minds.
The most important guiding principle will be to reduce density and maintaining distancing. This can be achieved via following tips-
- a)Alternate desks can have clear signage marking them off-limits.
- b)New signs outside conference rooms will announce adjusted maximum occupancy levels.
- c)Elevators might hold six people, and likely fewer; with floor indications marked on the lift floor.
- d)Entrances and lobbies of high-rises would require employees to queue before entering for taking a temperature check.
- e)There is likely to be a rise in the need of room dividers which will be playing a central role in the post-pandemic workspaces. Eg. Plexiglass sneeze guards and dividers will be replicating protected cubicles.
- f)The introduction of key fobs instead of biometric sensors can be used for a secured and contactless entry.
Apart from these modifications, facility managers must be advised to improve their ventilation circulation and install new air filtration systems. New hand sanitizing stations need to be mounted at common areas, and new schedules must be drawn up for cleaning staff to deep clean. Office automation may include use of AI in property management; the systems will keep a check on the replacements and repairs as and when needed by the appliances or surroundings. The traffic control in parking areas, and crowd management in common areas like cafes, entrance and exit foyers, elevators etc with the help of AI will help in better regulation of these commercial spaces. HVAC systems used can also be programmed so as to create a pleasant environment inside in all kinds of weather.
Some of the automated systems were already essential amenities in few business parks but with the current scenario they hold the potential of becoming inevitable in new- age working spaces. Business parks located in vast areas hosting thousands of people on daily basis in metro cities would be the pioneers in adoption of such technologies. Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Mumbai etc would witness such advancements on large scale if they plan to unlock gradually for reviving the economy and running business operations like before.