Office Changes In The New Normal

May 22, 2020

As Hawaii slowly reopens for business, its clear that work is going to different.

There isn’t a single part of a typical office that won’t be changed somehow to address concerns about the spread of diseases at work. The communal coffee maker. The reception desk. The up-close and fashionable open-office seating that had become so popular in recent years. Some of these may be gone for good, others modified for easier, regular cleaning and social distancing.

In Hawaii architect Phil Camp, principal architect at architecture and planning firm Hiarchy, is one of the state’s few Well Building-certified professionals. Such issues were his specialty before the Coronavirus came along. Since then he has teamed up with Phyllis Horner and Manfred Zapka of Great Places & Spaces to create the Hawaii Healthy Building Experts Action Group.

The three have been presenting webinars to companies and industry groups to help them reopen while abiding by the “act with care” guidelines. Under the plan, office settings may reopen with physical distancing and “safe practices” such as wearing face masks.

They’re asking their clients to look at everything, such as air conditioning systems to make sure that they’ve using HEPA filters and moving a sufficient quantity, or even staffing arrangements. Says Camp, one way to have workers further away from each other is to have them work at different times.

The three agree that psychological safety will be as important as physical safety and co-workers will want to feel heard about their concerns.