Having spent the last 4 weeks wiping the dining room table after breakfast and lunch to then set up my Hotbox and settle down to work, the term Clean Desk Policy has taken on a whole new meaning.
Before Coronavirus turned our world upside down and changed how we work in my and many other people's eyes forever, a Clean Desk Policy (CDP) was implemented by companies to reduce the risk of information theft. By clearing your desk at the end of the working day and locking away sensitive documents, organisations helped reduce the risk of prying eyes on unattended paperwork.
The introduction of GDPR led to an increased number of companies adopting the Clean Desk Policy. They also experienced the added benefits of saving time and money as employees worked in organised, clutter-free environments.
Now, in the light of how Coronavirus spreads, a Clean Desk really does mean a Clean Desk. What was previously about safeguarding data, is now about safeguarding our health. How we tackle both hygiene and social distancing are the challenges facing us in the post-co-vid workplace.
Jes Staley, the chief executive of Barclays, recently said that the bank would look at a more de-centralised approach to staff working.
I think the notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past, and we will find ways to operate with more distancing over a much longer period of time, he said.
As a designer who is inspired by shaping how people use space, responding to the challenges this pandemic brings is what gets my creative mind going. So, as we move from lockdown towards a phased return to the office, here are my suggestions for employers to create a safer and more productive workplace.
Let's pay respect to our maintenance teams who keep our offices clean. Our key workers have thankfully held our country together in these unprecedented times. A fair wage and decent working contracts are the least that should be expected for their services.
We've clearly demonstrated that working from home is possible so now is an opportunity to rethink the office layout. Whilst our to do lists can be done remotely, it is still vital for a team to meet each other on a regular basis. We need to create inspiring spaces for teams to come together to plan new projects and renew the social bonds that exist between them without packing them into the standard office deskbound layout.
For a clean desk policy to work, we need to be able to carry our things around the workplace and have a secure place to store them. Having designed Hotbox to solve this problem, I am naturally biased to suggest the benefits of our product range. Quick to set up and pack away, Hotbox saves us time by keeping us organised.
As we won't immediately be able to fill our offices as densely as before, we will need to find a way of knowing when desks and meeting rooms are available so that we can know when to come in and when to work from home. Technology can provide the answer, maximising the use of buildings and workers' time whilst maintaining social distancing.
By thinking about the four Ps, People, Place, Product and Process, we can ensure that the working environment stays safe in the short term.
As for the long-term future of the workplace, it's such an exciting prospect and at Hotbox, we're working on it.