Securing Your Office for the Post-Pandemic World

Two years into the pandemic, companies are approaching a fork in the road. With lowering numbers of COVID cases, many corporations are looking to restart onsite operations, bringing employees back into the office through a hybrid schedule that combines both online and in-person ways of working. Remote work schedules and creating teams A and B are a few ways that offices have tried to juggle occupancy and efficiency in office buildings with uncertainty and mixed reviews. 

For all our misgivings about the office setup, it was apparent that reporting to the office was key to working efficiently. We saw no other choice. But now that the pandemic has disproved such a notion, how should offices remain relevant in the new normal? 

The Benefits of In-office Work

While there are many schools of thought on the ideal office setup for the future, there is no denying the massive benefits of in-office work. After all, it has served us well for almost a century. Here’s a list of these benefits.  

Efficient Team Collaboration

The office is critical for team collaboration, providing a space where employees can get their creative juices flowing. Having everyone in the same room keeps the team focused and involved. This is in stark contrast to the way in which online meetings enable attendees to jump across meetings simultaneously without being of much value in any of them.  

Working without borders also encourages members to bounce ideas off of each other or quickly sense-check with their seatmates on that eureka moment they might be too shy to share with the bigger group. The energy that this creates within a team is difficult to explain, but it can’t be achieved online.  

Encourages Non-work Camaraderie

Office spaces are the best ways for employees to get along both in and out of the meeting room. It also levels the playing field among employees and helps in cooling down heated discussions.Saying "Hi" in the hallways or chatting around the water cooler might not rank high on one’s list of reasons for going to work each day, but these little interactions make the workday enjoyable. Whether for personal or professional chats, having that informal space for people just to talk — no work agenda involved — goes a long way in building social cohesion, networking, and relationship-building among colleagues, and a stronger company culture.  

Builds Team Culture

Many companies aim to cultivate good company culture, but few can achieve it. As company culture significantly impacts its reputation and quality of talent, a workplace’s culture sets the tone for what it values most.  

Excellent office culture is achieved by establishing rapport with the team, which is best done in person. Jokes fall flat in the online space, and it’s challenging to take non-verbal cues when you only see someone’s face through a screen. Making safe face-to-face meetings demonstrates the company’s commitment to creating an enjoyable and high-performing environment for its people. 

A strong team culture through day-to-day relationship building provides exponential benefits in the workspace. Teams which are united and engaged are more likely to drive tasks to completion, exhibit ownership of company goals, and serve as a positive influence on other teams.    

Ensures Excellent Workplace Standards

Many take for granted the shared conveniences of an office. Air-conditioning, ergonomic chairs and desks, IT support a few desks away, free coffee… the list goes on. Companies spend money on a communal workplace not only to bring everyone together but also to make sure their teams’ working hours are spent comfortably. 

Additionally, more than 40% of employees have struggled with loneliness and mental health issues at the height of the pandemic, driven by work-from-home setups which deprived many of social interactions. Spending one’s work hours with those who commiserate with their achievements and struggles also helps them cope with the joys and stresses of work on a personal level. 

Promotes Clear Work-life Balance

Working away from the office has blurred the lines between personal and professional time. There is nothing like bringing your work home with you to keep you on edge 24/7. Having the office as a distinct place for your work helps employees compartmentalize their lives better and reduces stress. 

Why Office Security Matters

With all the office space benefits, why is bringing employees back to the office like pulling teeth? More importantly, what would it take for employees to return to the office again? It boils down to the assurance of three aspects: personal health, personal safety, and optimal team collaboration. We break down the motivations behind these reasons and list how modern offices can address them in the new normal. 

Personal Health

People had different experiences during COVID. Some were unaffected by the pandemic, while others experienced COVID’s wrath or even lost loved ones in its wake. This uncertainty has led many to become wary of the new normal and the risks of revereting to the everyday things we took for granted, including going to the office. 

Add Sanitizing Stations

A post-pandemic office must be sensitive to varying perspectives on old routines while equipping workplaces with added features to give everyone peace of mind. 

Additional services to maintain cleanliness were added to all office setups. Keep sanitizing stations at the ready in high-traffic areas, with maintenance staff regularly restocking alcohol, sanitizer, and wipes to clean surfaces or meeting room areas between uses. Maintenance staff assigned to ensure workplaces’ cleanliness and safety for the next user is also a good investment in the new normal. 

Improve Community Areas

Communal areas must also be prepared to handle the staff assigned on specific days. Meeting rooms must be equipped with good ventilation within closed doors to uphold meeting privacy.  

Meanwhile, a crowded lunchroom might be a normal occurrence pre-pandemic, but this is less appreciated nowadays with the risk of transmission. This can be addressed by including small meeting rooms to decongest traffic or al fresco dining areas to put people at ease eating in groups. 

Adopt Contactless Technology

Contactless technology can also be employed to prevent contact with germs on commonly touched surfaces. Automatic faucets, keyless elevator use, and even door handles could be removed by including access cards or motion-sensing devices to grant entry and exit. 

Put Up A Sign (Or Ten)

Don’t underestimate the power of good signage. Having signs to remind people to keep a safe distance, markers on where to stand or wait, and directions to prevent people from bumping into each other help ease the burden of remembering all the rules of the new normal. Remembering our work is challenging enough as it is. 

Personal Safety

In the past, personal safety mostly involved physical security (i.e., absence of theft). Nowadays, this definition has expanded to accommodate psychological and mental safety. Aside from being safe, one must also feel safe to work in a space free of distractions. 

Put (Some) Partitions Back

Open offices might have been all the rage years ago, but in this age of personal protection, it might be helpful to put those walls a bit higher. It doesn’t have to be a floor-to-ceiling wall, but some partitions and barriers would be helpful to give employees some peace of mind while staying in the same space for hours. They could use the office intercom or stand past the barriers to locate their colleagues and get things done as quickly as they have in the past. Having personal space also helps individuals concentrate better, something sorely lacking in work-from-home setups. 

If your office has just gone through a renovation, no worries. A temporary solution would be using modular acrylic dividers. These provide safety without reducing visibility and can be collapsed when no longer needed.  

Another way is to scrap the hot desk concept in favor of assigned seats. While this may be a total drag for those looking for new friends in different areas, having fixed seating arrangements helps in contact tracing in the event of COVID infection and securing the space against theft.  

Create More Small Meeting Rooms

Meeting rooms also have the same needs as personal office spaces. People would like the assurance of having trusted teammates in a room without opening themselves up to many risks. Consider cutting up plenary-style meeting rooms into a larger number of meeting rooms to accommodate small group meetings. This allows more groups to collaborate in person while maintaining greater safety and privacy. 

Secure Meeting Rooms Online

Securing the right meeting room at the right time also becomes more critical. Keep in mind the number of attendees against available rooms appropriate for today’s workplace. These rooms must also have time to be cleaned in between uses. Online room booking systems help greatly to prevent instances of double booking or that embarrassing moment of having to look for a meeting room, dragging in-person and online meeting-goers in the process.  

Optimal Team Collaboration

Many of us have probably lost count of the days we go to the office simply to prepare for that big board presentation. Even pre-pandemic meeting days are a must-attend. It's crazy to plan a leave or go offsite because trying to get up to speed would take too much extra time and effort. 

Meetings and collaboration are part and parcel of the office experience. One of the biggest draws to having everyone back in the office is to get everyone in the same room on the same page quickly. But during a hybrid setup, how can offices support the same level of team alignment and collaboration? 

Make Hybrid-friendly Meeting Rooms

Meeting room essentials once consisted of a whiteboard, a projector, a long conference table, and a big speaker phone for the occasional call-in. But now, the meeting rooms of the hybrid workforce need dynamic tech and design solutions that involve online participants just as much as those in the room. Add devices like a 360-degree camera or a touchscreen TV that works just like a whiteboard to encourage creativity while keeping all participants in the loop.  

Convert Meeting Room Layouts

Aside from decking out meeting rooms with the latest tech, offices can also look into alternative meeting room formats to ensure a socially distant yet productive meeting of minds. Instead of one table, meeting tables can have modular tables — one per person — to give everyone personal space while in a communal room. Meeting rooms can also be converted to eve nsmaller meeting pods for one-on-one discussions, which are best done face-to-face.  

Provide Venues for In-office Interactions

While the office is a place of work, many stay because of the company, but a team with few interpersonal office interactions results in a more distant one. That may not be bad, but lackluster team spirit can influence employees’ satisfaction with their work, which affects turnover.  

Socialization in the workplace may be a challenge in the new normal, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to hang out safely. The office setup must support these recreational areas by providing employees with ample room to unwind and relax within company premises, whether indoor or outdoor. 


After the pandemic, companies will surely adopt some form of the hybrid work setup for the years to come. Despite its cons on work-life balance, people enjoy the work-from-home life and the flexibility this offers the modern employee. 

Pointing out the flaws of working from home will do more harm than good in persuading employees to return to the office. Instead, give them reasons to come back. Secure the office in handling personal health, personal safety, and optimizing team collaborations to be a ready workplace for tomorrow.