Beneath the Hard Hat
C.D. Smith Company Blog
The recent pandemic has had a HUGE impact on everyone. Not only have projects been placed on hold, but it has completely changed the way businesses think about how their workforce interacts. Companies who previously were considering building a new office space have taken a step back and are now asking themselves how they can construct a new building with the current health and financial risks of COVID-19.
In a recent Gallup poll, COVID-19 shifted approximately 69% of the workforce from an office to working remotely from home. While many employees have successfully transitioned into a remote environment, there is a growing desire for employees to return to the office.
When the pandemic took hold, it forcibly sent millions of employees home to work remotely. A significant percentage of employees likely went from working in open office spaces where they had access to company gyms and cafes to small apartments. It may have required them to share their apartment workspace with a significant other or roommates who also needed to work from home. Makeshift workstations were created in kitchens and living rooms to accommodate the shift. Now, many of these employees are ready to leave their confined living quarters and come back to open office spaces.
"Employees want to come back to an environment where they feel safe," Michael L. Krolczyk, Senior Vice President of C.D. Smith Construction, explains. "There are opportunities as architects and builders to design and build those safe spaces. More than ever, we look at how to maximize spaces while making it easy for the employee to safely social distance. I believe this will be a long-term impact on how spaces are designed and operate."
Making hallways wider and spreading out cubicles are simple adjustments to a building design that will improve health and safety. Additionally, incorporating a robust HVAC system with frequent air exchange will continuously allow for fresh air to rotate throughout a building.
Collaboration and social integration will still be essential for employees. Designing large collaboration spaces that give plenty of room to connect while at a distance keep employees' safe and be a catalyst for productive, meaningful discussions.
Understanding employees' flow and daily movement will also enhance a building's design. Creating flows for how employees interact with areas throughout a building will help create safer spaces. From the moment an employee enters the building, building designs can direct the path of the employee's behaviors.
Moving forward, it is likely that many offices will have employee temperature scanners at each entrance. Strategically placing sanitation stations throughout the building and minimizing impromptu gathering spaces will also encourage employees' behaviors to interact with each other and the spaces safely.
"Designing and constructing better buildings is a part of the solution," Krolczyk says. "We all want the pandemic to end and things to go 'back to normal.' But the truth is, even if we find a vaccination for COVID-19, there will likely be other viruses and threats down the road. We've learned a lot from this pandemic. As builders, we can build safe spaces to enable our workforce to continue working and strengthen our economy."
A fourth generation Smith family member, Michael brings over 27 years of construction experience, 25 with C.D. Smith in his role as Senior Vice President. Michael’s large-scale project involvement is instrumental to the success of the company. His responsibilities include building and maintaining strategic business partner relationships, the oversight of C.D. Smith’s finance and development projects and ensuring client satisfaction from the preconstruction planning stages through owner occupancy.