LIKE most other companies across the world, many of our office-based staff have been, and some still are, working from home. Much has been written about the long-term effects of the 2020 lockdown on all manner of issues from economic to health and well-being.
We’re becoming accustomed to this new reality we face on a daily basis and more people are heading back to the office. 2021 is predicted to show a return to something like normal business levels across the UK in terms of new construction and refurbishment projects. It seems clear though, that the office sector will certainly be slower to recover than others, such as healthcare and education, as employers are forced to rethink the workplace.
Project lead times for new-build will likely increase through next year while for refurbishment we are already seeing more urgency in some areas. It helps we have stock on the ground to service these requests.
Says Tarkett: ‘Many of our critical office flooring products are now readily available from local stock. Desso carpet tiles, Tarkett LVT, wood and safety products are widely available with very short lead times. A recent survey conducted by Tarkett is helping workplace companies and designers with this objective of rethinking the office space.’
The company polled more than 6,000 office workers across the world to ask about attitudes to the workplace. 62% of respondents reported feeling ‘more productive’ in the office, though the top concerns expressed were those of health and wellbeing along with indoor air quality. This isn’t a new issue of course, workers are increasingly aware of the potential ill-effects of lower air quality, that air pollution is now more prominent indoors than out – and that they’re spending significantly more time inside than out.
The global push for clean air has never been more urgent. Researchers at Harvard University have determined that just a small increase in the long-term exposure to air pollution – particulate matter (PM) or fine dust – significantly heightens the risk of Covid-19 fatalities. It found that even if people were exposed to only 1 μg/m3 more fine particulate matter (PM2.5), over time there was an 8% rise in the Covid-19 death rate.
Desso AirMaster was developed 10 years ago to address the issue of fine dust particles in the atmosphere, now in 2020 there are reportedly more design and colour options available with this ‘unique construction and it’s extremely well regarded by specifiers’, says the company.
Another area of concern is the office noise level, people returning to the office are often missing the peace and quiet of home. Even with less people in the office, staff have to adjust to the variance in background noise when they are back at their desk. Despite the field of acoustics being a bit of a minefield, flooring can of course help with this when correctly used in conjunction with other specialist products.
‘The latest Desso carpet tile range – Grezzo – is available with a new SoundMaster Thrive backing, which now achieves the appropriate acoustic performance without compromising the Cradle-to-Cradle silver accreditation.’
Concludes Tarkett: ‘The key to success in this area today we believe is to offer the products which look great, perform above the standards for indoor air quality, acoustics, cleanability and sustainability at the right price with great availability.’