Karina Kerja is a Poland based workspace expert and the International Concept Manager at Kinnarps, the Swedish furniture company. Due to the current situation, companies are looking at how to reduce their overhead cost and coworking is being an option for them. The need to put safe workplace environments is crucial, though. As one of the leading workplace professionals we have interviewed Karina Kerja to learn more about interior design solutions for the next workspace concept.
Here a few main takeaways from our conversation with Karina:
- According to a recent survey, 30% of employees are happy with home working and 30% are un-happy.
- The flex workplace industry is seeing a very strong rise of interest in the last week. The dynamic is changing from one week to another, but it often comes from those who were the most reluctant towards it just a few weeks ago.
- We are now leaving the first phase, the lockdown, but the virus is still around. Even though in some European countries public transportation is re-opening, there is a limit in capacity with no more than 30 or 50% of its usual users allowed. A part of the workforce have therefore a hard time reaching their office.
- The workforce is also discovering home office. In Poland, for example, less than 5% of the employees had a home working experience and a dedicated place to work from home. Companies and employees had to jump into it overnight.
- Working from home is only feasible for some people, not everyone. Some people want to come back to their regular routines and offices.
- Culturally, there are a lot of differences to deal with social distancing. US companies are very strict on it. Nordic countries are used to it. Latin European countries have a harder time adopting social distancing. “We will have to deal with a lot of different behaviours and this is something that won’t leave in only a few weeks; we will have to address the differences in the upcoming months, if not years. We have to prepare for it”.
- At some point, relaxation will come and we will get back to old habits.
How to best change the layout of the office space during COVID-19?
Kinnarps made a case study of an open space, pretty dense, 900 sqm with 130 desks. Many coworking spaces work with such high densities. As in Poland regulation now asks for 1,5m between people and workstations, Kinnarps made a simulation based on those rules. In the first scenario, the office layout stays the same, but seats are left empty to comply with the 1,5m distance requirements. In the second scenario, some tables and chairs are removed and the layout adopted accordingly.
- In scenario 1, capacity drops to 36% as opposed to the regular capacity.
- In scenario 2, the optimised layout, capacity drops to 48%. This scenario bring a huge psychological and financial advantage.
- As a solution for the removed furniture, Kinnarps recommends shipping it to people’s home in case they don’t have a proper set up for home working.
“We will likely see retail real estate made available in the coming future and coworking could take over”
Find below the podcast version of the interview to find out more about Karina’s thoughts and insights about the future of the workspace design.
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