OFFICE DESIGN: SOLUTIONS TO REMOTE WORKING AMID THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

With the aim of restricting face-to-face contact and mass gatherings to minimize the spread of the pandemic, Social Distancing is required for the whole people. Social Distancing, in the direct sense, means limiting social contact; as a result, everyone is recommended to stay at home, limit face-to-face interaction within 2 meters in diameter. Social distancing minimizes and slows down the spread of the pandemic, thereby flattening the curve to reduce pressure on doctors, hospitals and medical facilities

Facing the complicated developments of the Covid-19, Remote working is selected by many businesses in Vietnam. Currently, to practice social distancing, many companies in Vietnam permit their employees to work from home to keep up with the work schedule. However, this relatively novel form of working also poses new challenges for businesses.

Office design in Coronavirus time

Lack of social interaction in the workplace 

Unlike working in an office, remote working empowers employees to do their jobs from various places. Lack of interaction is a challenge for both employees and managers. Managers worry that their employees are distracted when working from home while employees find it difficult to receive attention and support what they need from their direct managers.  

Update of insufficient information

In the early stage of remote working, lack of information frequently occurs. Working from various places without online communication makes employees difficult to obtain complete and comprehensive information from their co-workers and managers, resulting in waste of time and reduced productivity. 

In addition to the incomprehensive information associated with work, remote working also reduces empathy among co-workers. Lack of awareness of situations that co-workers are facing results in the lack of sympathy or support in work is also considered one of the major disadvantages of remote working. 

Lack of connection with businesses

Working alone develops loneliness due to no interaction with co-workers. In the short term, remote employees feel disconnected from their co-workers, and in the long run, they gradually disconnect from their own companies, thereby leading to the potential risk of lack of employee retention. 

office design

Distraction when working from home

Unlike companies with office design of separation between work areas and rest areas, homes have many distractors. Many people have no their own work areas at home but work in places intended for relaxation such as couches, sofas or beds, that easily lead to distraction and reduced performance. The employees with young children are much more easily distracted. Therefore, business leaders and managers should foresee the non-ideal conditions of working from home. 

Unfamiliarity with remote working

The change from working in a workplace with fully equipped office design to working from home is new to many people, making them confused at first. Most businesses are unprepared for their entire employees to work remotely. Although businesses aim at flexible working style, they are also required to be more prepared for effective remote working. 

For the high effectiveness of remote working, a number of solutions with high degrees of success are available.

Detailed planning for remote working and working from home

For the high effectiveness of remote working, businesses need to work out their detailed schedules for their closer and more effective management. The schedules act as guides to direct employees how to start as well as track their own performances. In addition, depending on the characteristics of both jobs and business lines, management departments should also set out the flexible time schedules so that the relevant departments can meet at offices during social distancing.  

Training for employees on remote working and working from home, and utilization of office design to interact and connect with co-workers and companies.

The plans for training and practice of remote working and working from home should be worked out.

During the days of working in offices, employees need to proactively plan and list information to be collected from their customers and co-workers in order to ensure that the entire documents that they need are available before remote working. In addition, exchanging information and handling the necessary tasks should be optimized when all relevant employees are present at offices. The office design with various areas for group discussions facilitates the same to be carried out quickly, more naturally and effectively. 

 Office design for employees in coronavirus pandemic
Unilever reduces the number of seats in meeting rooms to ensure social distance

The office design with shared space and large meeting rooms can be utilized to organize the discussions and instructions on effective remote working. The rest areas of offices are ideal places to share and confide after and during each shift, reducing employees’ feelings of loneliness from remote working time and creating sympathy and interconnection with businesses.

Businesses are characterized by various functional departments, the large number of employees as well as complex administrative management procedures, so they are required to make careful preparations in terms of procedures, regulations and tools to ensure the productivity of working from home. Office designs with open space and flexible layout also support employees in situations where they have to work alternately from home and at the office