Architects

With property developers and investors coming to grips with lower occupational demand in office space, architects are embracing new trends in designs that will pave way for social interaction and collaboration.

Despite the adoption of work from home model and the co-working space, there have been major drawbacks, hinged on logistics and technology, especially poor power supply and un-reliable internet access.

Observers believe that remote work is unlikely to take the place of physical presence in the workplace for a longtime as employees are still needed on-site to interact with clients and for administrative purposes.

Architects say, physical offices will remain an integral part of businesses, as workers still have to converge. They say, this has further necessitated development of small offices rather than large ones that require more flexibility.

Office designers are also exploring advanced digital equipment with deployment of facial recognition, motion sensors, mobile applications based-solution and virtual assistant for increase employees’ interaction without cross infections.

According to them, technology will drive construction of buildings and offices to be worker-friendly and safe, while touch-less technology and upgraded building mechanical system will provide optimal environmental control.

For example, they noted that new technologies that include motion lights and sensors, doors that open automatically with motion sensors or facial recognition, elevators that could be ordered and controlled from a smartphone are expected.

The immediate past chairman, Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA), Fitzgerald Umah, said COVID-1 9 pandemic has shown that some offices do not require floor areas they presently occupy as some staff can comfortably work remotely and come to the office only when necessary.

Following this, he said, most offices would now shrink sizes both in area and human capacity. This, Umah explained will in turn reduce rent and cost of employment, while the office arrangement would change with the aim of improving employee and staff health as well as creating a safer working environment.

He said, “The coronavirus has changed our life. It did not only change our lifestyles but our entire work-styles. The architectural design of office will no doubt be impacted, and companies and employer will seek new working environment for their employees.”

Umah said companies would increase investment in technology to meet the needs of working remotely and delivering job. Office and client meetings, he noted will mostly be done virtually.

“This means system upgrade, purchase of new software and working tools for the employees to ensure they have capacity to deliver,” he said.

According to him, “the telecom companies would need to upgrade their systems and equipment to meet the needs of the people, as more bandwidth would be required. Government must also invest in infrastructure.”

The scientists say, ‘we must be cautious in reopening the economy to full capacity. I have no doubt that by next year, we can go back to our normal life, but the lessons learnt must not be forgotten quickly, as daily and personal hygiene must not be taken for granted,” he said.

A past president, Association of Consulting Architects of Nigeria (ACANigeria), Mansur Kurfi, also revealed that people are deploying technology in their work places, adding that “it must be taken into consideration in new office designs.”

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