Aug 16, 2021
By Brandon Davis

Healthy Buildings: Four Employee-Focused Safety Trends for Office Spaces

When it comes to designing office spaces, controlling infectious diseases hasn’t always been a top priority.

In fact, for the last couple of decades, an open floor plan has been the go-to design configuration for most offices. Architects and space planners have sought to populate these spaces with as many employees as possible, with desks connected to one another or spread just a few feet apart.

The goal has been to maximize the use of space while encouraging frequent in-person interactions and cross-pollination of ideas.

But now when we think of “cross-pollination” in the office, the phrase has an entirely different context. The pandemic has re-shaped our perceptions of how a workplace should look and feel. Office workers now have a different set of expectations—and we’re seeing companies change their priorities to match.

The focus has shifted from maximizing the number of people in a space to maximizing the health of the people using that space. And organizations that don’t take steps to improve workplace safety now risk alienating current employees and losing a competitive advantage when trying to attract new talent.

But of course, these improvements don’t just happen overnight. It takes a cross-departmental effort involving facilities teams, space managers, HR, and several others to make it happen. And that’s where workplace technology can play a big role.

In this post, we’ll take a look at 4 trending ways companies are enhancing the health-related features and safety of their buildings—and how an integrated workplace management system (IWMS) like Nuvolo Connected Workplace can help get it done.


4 Health and Safety Trends Re-Shaping Office Workspaces

 We’re increasingly seeing organizations in every industry make health-focused upgrades to their office spaces. Here are some of the most prominent measures being taken.

1.Renewed focus on air quality

 A recent report from Honeywell showed that 46% of facility managers in the U.S. have updated their air quality system during the pandemic. This helps keep clean air circulating throughout the building, reducing the chances of virus transmission. In fact, the CDC recommends increasing total airflow to occupied spaces and improving central air filtration as part of its official guidance for office building employers.

Updating and maintaining these air quality systems requires constant monitoring and an effective maintenance plan. Coils go bad, filters need to be replaced, and fans need to be inspected regularly. Keeping track of all these tasks can be challenging, which is why a fully connected IWMS can help.

The Nuvolo Connected Workplace Maintenance solution maintains a single system of record for every device enterprise-wide, keeping track of key information like preventative maintenance timelines and equipment warranties. It also auto-generates work orders to dispatch technicians to each device when it’s time for scheduled maintenance.

This can help ensure that preventative and corrective maintenance for air quality systems is as straightforward, transparent, and organized as possible

2. Enhanced cleaning and sanitation processes

 Cleaning and sanitation procedures serve two purposes—one is physiological and the other is psychological.

These procedures are of course necessary to help ensure the space remains clean and virus-free, but they also affect how employees feel about the workplace. Even if the space is being thoroughly cleaned every day, people at the company need an absolute guarantee that they’re working in a safe environment when they show up to the office. After all, their personal health is at risk.

While the implementation of regular cleaning and sanitation protocols seems like a no-brainer, it can pose some logistical questions. For example:

  • When and how often should spaces be cleaned?
  • How can managers and others in charge of cleaning and sanitation be sure which spaces are in use?
  • If the company is using a desk sharing or reservation system, how can employees be assured they’re working in a clean space every time?

By integrating the Nuvolo Connected Workplace Maintenance solution with the Space solution, these challenges can be simply and effectively addressed. Managers can easily see which spaces are being used or reserved, and they can also set up automatic work orders for cleaning at customizable intervals—including before and after the usage of a shared space.

3. New floorplan layouts for social distancing

 The old way of designing offices kept people close together. The new way includes creative solutions for selectively keeping them apart.

This means space managers are increasingly editing existing floorplans or designing new ones with proper social distancing procedures in mind. And in some cases, they’re overhauling the current seating system entirely and switching to a reservation-based system—also known as desk hoteling.

It’s easy to see how any of these scenarios could quickly become complicated. Between employees working from home, desks being re-assigned or intentionally left vacant, and people reserving space on an as-needed basis, there are lots of moving pieces that need to be accounted for at all times.

But the good news is that all of this can be consolidated and managed within a fully connected IWMS.

Nuvolo’s Space solution makes floorplan editing easy with an intuitive drag-and-drop feature. It also integrates with AutoCAD so space managers can import their current floorplans without re-building them from scratch. Plus, the reservations feature enables employees to reserve a personal or group workspace from their desktop or mobile device.

With these capabilities in place, space managers can carefully design office layouts that respect personal health concerns and social distancing guidelines while still meeting business needs.

4. Contactless experiences

Another concern we’re seeing space planners address is the amount of physical contact employees are required to have with the work environment—including both shared surfaces (like tables, desks, and countertops) and other people.

Since employees have varying risk tolerances about what to touch and how close to get to others, the office environment should be as touch-free and self-service-focused as possible. This is leading organizations to implement solutions like contactless entry and exit (usually via badge swipe), remote-use technology (for shared devices like printers), and modified foot traffic flows.

Also increasingly popular is self-service wayfinding. This gives employees the ability to see the entire office via intuitive maps on their desktop or mobile device. The benefits of such a system—like the one available via Nuvolo’s Connected Workplace Space solution—are two-fold. First, they eliminate unnecessary foot traffic by helping employees find a location on the first try. In addition, they reduce the need to approach others and ask for directions.

Many companies are still experimenting with contactless workplace solutions, and this area will likely continue to be a developing frontier in office space design over the next few years.

Creating the Health-Focused Workspace of the Future

The emerging trends mentioned above are just a few individual components of a holistic workplace safety plan. While specific implementations will vary based on business needs, there’s no doubt that these kinds of health-first initiatives will define the office experience in the near future.

Learn more about Nuvolo Connected Workplace and how a fully-connected IWMS can help create and maintain best practices for health and safety within your organization.