According to DKO Architecture founder and principal, Koos de Keijzer, his quickly reinvented new working paradigm for his offices is one that he believes can provide a blueprint to safe and productive workplace design.

“We are clever workplace designers and we have systematically worked through issues in the new normal. It’s all to do with metrics and the metric outcome to achieve the new normal environment is 40 percent more space, per person,” says de Kejizer.

In Melbourne DKO Architecture have 94 team members in a 1000sqm studio that translates to 11sqm per person.

To provide for the new normal, they reconfigured the studio to accommodate 64 team members, with 30 team members on a rotating schedule, this equates to 15.6m per person The metrics for the Sydney studio are very similar.

“All our studios have been reconfigured to have 1.5m ‘iso cones’ between work stations”, says de Keijzer.

Furthermore, clear one-way circulation pathways are noted on the floor between desks to enable smooth pedestrian traffic flow with social distancing, and the relevant number of chairs in the board room has been edited down to comply with the 4sqm rule.

“We don’t believe that hot desking is an option and our studio still has 94 work stations. studio Daily cleaning will take on more importance as it is important to maintain a daily, visible cleaning regime.”

“Another positive is that our team sick days have dropped substantially, we believe that this is a subset of social distancing, the extra space meaning that the team is not being cross infected by the common cold or the flu. Certainly in the last eight weeks there have only three reported sick days.

As a rule of thumb across Melbourne and Sydney we generally have 90 sick days a month. People are no longer becoming sick because of social distancing which is an unintended benefit from social distancing.”

De Keijzer also believes that the key to future workplace environments is emotional intelligence.

"From a collegiate point of view, we have seen a rise in kindness and a sense that we’re all in this together. In a way, that has brought the team together, albeit not literally,” de Keijzer says.

Another example DKO is trialling is staggering shifts during the day as they are aware that a lot of the team are concerned about taking public transport.

“Even work hours have had to become more flexible,” says de Kejizer, adding that “The need to be flexible with people is now a part of the new normal.”

Image: Supplied