34F Design leads workplace transition into a thoughtful, solid, post-COVID reality
34F Design Executive Team (l to r) Terence Chan, Associate; Erica Wickes, CEO; and Elizabeth Servage, Associate. Photo courtesy of 34F Design.As the workforce returns, employers face important decisions about workspaces and employee programs with consideration to the home-office workplace balance.
“There is a huge number of people who need the social domain and the ideation of thoughts, and who thrive in a place where the process for taking things to another level naturally occurs,” says Erica Wickes, founder and CEO of 34F Design. “Removing that element is questioning how some businesses will operate and challenges one’s health.
“We must first build a new strategy for the office, as we know workflow and design are supporting elements to business, employee retention and engagement,” Wickes says. “It governs how teams are formed and positioned and the community culture to create success.”
The 34F Design team returned to the office in mid-May with a focus on collectively examining the new reality of office space design. Mission one is communicating with employees and clients about policy and procedures within planning, while respecting employee health and well-being.
“It is important to support the provincial health mandate and WorkSafe BC guidelines; however, the emotional reaction of individuals is taking the way we understand those directives to another level,” Wickes says.
She points to a surge in impulse buying products that encourage visual separation rather than physical distancing, and notes that the 6x6 workstation effectively meets safety requirements. 34F has been creating space plan diagrams for existing clients that thoughtfully consider how to support effective policies and procedures.
“Shared spaces are the host’s responsibility to maintain, and not everyone feels comfortable in them just yet,” Wickes says. “We have provided headsets and cameras for each individual to participate in group events from their desks, if they choose.”
Implementing health initiatives is now more important than ever. Doing so boosts the immune system, encourages fitness and better sleep, and is a critical business step in mitigating risk. 34F is helping clients establish workplace health and wellness concepts that require a minimal investment upfront but provide a great deal of long-term benefit.
The financial impact of covid-19 will drive choices around the new office workplace, and Wickes’ advice is to avoid emotional impulse buying. “34F can assist with planning and implementing solutions, utilizing your existing products and only adding enhancements that suit the solution and budget,” she says.
The cost of real estate is an important challenge, especially if a business is struggling with revenue. “How can they balance those needs?” Wickes says. “The situation is changing —let’s test the waters together. We will either learn we are on the right path or be nimble enough to change direction as we have currently learned.”