Offices to focus on design in transition to ‘next normal’
(The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — As organizations prepare to return to the office amid an easing of lockdown restrictions across Asia Pacific, many are considering how their corporate real estate portfolios should look in the‘next normal’.

According to a survey by real estate advisory firm JLL, more than 80 percent of its clients have started to explore alternatives to keep their business operational or carry out certain modifications to their offices.

The firm’s latest ‘Guide for Workplace Design Considerations’ outlines some short- to long-term priorities, including space planning solutions, tech-enabled experiences and operational functions that help corporates navigate the complex re-entry journey. The guide also highlights how companies can re-assess their office footprint with decentralization scenarios or re-designs that can protect their businesses and people in the long run.

“Office re-entry will be a gradual and multi-phased journey that is likely to evolve as economies open up again,” said Martin Hinge, executive managing director for project and development services at JLL Asia Pacific. “As people head back to the office, our clients’ number one priority is to ensure that they’re welcoming people back to a safe and healthy environment.”

This includes setting up private, enclosed workstations, fitting social and break-out spaces with labels or physical dividers, or even installing thermal imaging technology in the building lobby and reception areas.

“In the Philippines, we are already seeing clients considering fewer workspaces on their production floors as a means to improve social distancing. However, in some cases, the footprint of the workstations are slightly larger and with higher partition panels,” said Calum Swinnerton, JLL Philippines’ head of project and development services.

He also cited other measures being considered to improve employee well-being, including the installation of Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV)-rated filters on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technology systems to help filter out viruses; ultraviolet lights to kill viruses; and automated sliding doors on main entrances to lessen contact.

“The market will evolve based on lessons learned due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Swinnerton. “We may see developers and occupiers place greater emphasis on building health as they incorporate health and wellness elements in their buildings and offices moving forward. In addition to applying for green certifications, the industry may now include WELL certification as part of the norm,” the report said.

The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and well-being.

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