“Freedom day” as it has so been called is here, so what does this mean for a return to the office? Will people be going back if they haven’t already, or will it be business as usual or something in between? 
Returning to work? 
More than half (52%) of British people currently working from home say they are ready to return to the office, with the typical office worker wanting to go into the office between two and three days per week, according to a survey for facilities management firm Mitie. More than a third (35%) are concerned their offices are not Covid-secure and 60% think their employer needs to improve the office environment to prevent staff becoming ill in the future. The article for Personnel Today looks at 14 things employees want in their workplace and the list includes more space between workstations, reduced meeting room capacity, reduced office capacity, hand sanitiser everywhere and better ventilation. Read the article in full.  
Furniture and space needs 
A piece we read from Senator says “the pressure to constantly minimise the size of the desk surface to increase the density of people within a space, will be replaced with a desire to protect our personal space. People work better in a space that promotes physical wellbeing. We are all human and our interpersonal space determines how comfortable we are in the presence of other people. It is our personal responsibility to maintain the 2000mm physical distancing guidelines and we require simple and obvious clues in our furniture as we can no longer use the ubiquitous handshake to demarcate our personal boundaries.” An interesting concept that we agree with. 
We have seen a surge in enquiries for screens in offices and workplaces. From acrylic to Perspex. Is this a knock-on effect of the easing of the guidelines in July and therefore businesses planning a return to the office? But will hybrid working be a thing? Read our previous blogs on hybrid working, agile working and being productivity with changes in working styles and locations. 
Hybrid working 
A brochure from Steelcase that we have read looks more in hybrid and collaborative working. The main points they raise for social, personal and working spaces are: 
• Proximity matters. Think about the relationship between people, content, displays and cameras. Acoustics are important. Variables such as architecture, floor plan location and adjacencies have an impact. 
• Software and hardware are evolving constantly. Right now, IT support is often necessary to make sure elements work together. 
• Creating a range of spaces and technology experiences — based on what’s available today. Ideas can be adapted to work with a variety of space types and technology platforms 
Steelcase go on to say that the three key concepts for better hybrid collaboration are equity, engagement and ease. Having a space designed for you, your business, your culture and your staff is key. 
To summarise 
Keeping people safe yet included whether in the office full time or not, is so important these days. Taking into account people’s mental needs, physical needs and safety is paramount as is getting the balance between working and being sociable. The need to be flexible when it comes to space and furniture needs will be a balancing act too. 
For your design and office space layout needs and questions on how to make your space work for you, ask Sygnus! 
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