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Post-pandemic design of smart office spaces

Text: Shaon Sikta Sengupta, Director and Head, North India, Edifice Consultants

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused the most impactful workplace experiment, such as optimised workspaces and remote working. New-age workspaces deploy data-driven design for a data-driven future, where one sees a growing demand to deliver technologically-advanced workplaces. Smart offices embrace sustainability using humanistic and technological strategies, and one must consider the changed attitudes towards presence and usage levels in offices.

Humanistic strategies include designing spaces for people’s wellbeing, responding to COVID guidelines, ergonomics, universal accessibility and biophilia. They must consider the office layout, materials, furnishings, acoustics and technology to maintain the right indoor air quality, thermal comfort and lighting.

  • Indian and multinational companies have demanded regulated methods to maintain indoor air quality, such as using air purifiers with Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI) systems proposed at various locations, along with monitoring and transferring real-time data about indoor air quality. The filtration system combines advanced carbon filters and HEPA filters to remove pollen, allergens, bacteria, mould, chemicals, odours and gas.
  • Under-Floor Air Distribution systems (UFAD) are implemented to enhance thermal comfort and indoor air quality, by using underfloor air diffusers to directly supply conditioned air into the zone, as floor-mounted and ceiling-mounted air diffusers prevent bacterial transmittal.
  • Modern workplaces function around the clock, therefore lighting solutions that automatically adjust indoor lighting based on circadian rhythms help achieve peak performance.
  • Ergonomics and universal accessibility must be incorporated in furniture, workstations, lighting and supports that are sensitive to different kinds of users.
  • Biophilia isn’t simply about plants, but one must maintain the outdoor-indoor connection through environmental features, natural forms, light and space and plant-human relationships. Acoustic control and environmental music are proven to achieve higher levels of well-being, productivity and creativity.