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There are no two ways about it, the recent coronavirus pandemic has had an enormous impact on the way that we work. Out of necessity many of us have turned our hands to working remotely. Out of this necessity, a notion has been bred, it seems that many companies, as well as their employees, have found it to be a useful adaptation. Although it may have seemed impossible to work a number of roles from home, we have all somehow muddled through. Now it appears some may adopt the model on a more permanent basis in the future. Meaning office space rental or investment may become a thing of the past.

This hybridization could change workplace management forever. The way the physical spaces are designed will have to change with the times. Many will view an overcrowded office packed with cubicles as far as the eye can see as very outdated.

As a result, we are seeing an increasing number of start-ups worldwide responding to the demand for workspace innovation. Office improvement is a hot topic and it isn’t just the flexibility to think about. In a post-pandemic world, we will all be considerably more health-conscious. Hygienic surfaces and healthy air will be considered much more critical than they ever previously were thought of as. So, in light of the way our workspaces are headed here are some interesting start-up ideas that may have pride of place in a post-covid workplace.

Flexible modular spaces: ROOM

Founded: 2018, New York, US

ROOM hit the market with their sound-proof office “phonebooth”. Following the outbreak of the pandemic the US startup quickly sought the funding to expand its wares. Launching 3 new products last November. The range showcases flexible responsive meeting rooms of a modular nature. They have integrated silent fans that work in unison with concealed air inlets *neatly stashed behind the seating) to eliminate confined air issues. The air in the space refreshes every 67 seconds which is around five times more than your average conference space. Another product they developed is ‘Room Sense’ which is an analytics platform that can provide real-time data about how space is being used. It takes into account details such as office density, capacity, and occupancy, and can assist with safety management.

Capacity and distancing: Density

Founded: 2014, San Francisco, US

Whilst we are on the subject of tracking employee movement another software that has arisen from a San Francisco-based start-up is Density. It was first created as a tool for making office spaces function more efficiently but again the software was evolved in 2020 mid pandemic to accommodate the changes to our day-to-day lives. It works by utilizing AI-powered infrared sensors so was ideal to adapt for managing social distancing within the workplace. It was tweaked last May to provide a real-time occupancy system that the developers named ‘Safe’. It provides detailed analytics and uses digital signage as well as updates and alerts. The employer can set a capacity limit for certain rooms and they can change it based on real-time occupancy. 

Top-grade disinfection: R-Zero

Founded: 2020, San Francisco, US

Born straight out of necessity and established during the height of pandemic spread R-Zero provides hospital-grade ultraviolet C (UV-C) disinfection. Given that the company jumped straight in headfirst their initial product wasn’t super polished aesthetically speaking. Their flagship product ‘Arc’ resembled ugly outdoor heaters but the idea behind it was critical. Working as a mobile tower of UV-C lights, R-Zero can provide businesses a high level of reassurance. The company has other products to launch in 2021 which will likely have a little more design innovation now that the pressure is off and the flagship has demonstrated its worth.

Back to Nature: Oxygen at Work

Founded: 2017, Zurich, Switzerland

Oxygen at Work has been aiming to make plants the heart of the workplace for several years. Research has always shown that they can make offices healthier. The company took that idea one step further developing what they call optimized plant concepts. Using air sensors and data analysis, Oxygen at Work makes plants work harder. Studies have shown that 40-60 percent humidity reduces virus survival times, so with their high-performance plants and real-time analysis they can change humidity levels in the workplace and create a nonviable environment. On top of that, the plants have noise-absorbing properties that the green-natured company is looking into for the future. If we are going to have a lot more conference calls going on remotely then we might need to look at soundproofing in an innovative way.

Data Tracking: Envoy

Founded: 2013, San Francisco, US

Another older tech that was quickly adapted was Envoy. The platform began life as a touch-free sign-in system for visitors but was recalibrated to assist with employees returning to businesses. The company launched Envoy Protect back in October and it included useful tracking assistance features. It handles employed health questionnaires as well as contact tracing. The company is also tackling capacity and is in the midst of beta-testing another new feature; Envoy Desks. This is set to help manage space usage and ensure that employees can only book a spot to work with safe social distancing in place.

Purification: Molekule

Founded: 2014, San Francisco, US

Since it was founded, now eight years ago Molekule was all about healthy air. The companies focus has always been tackling indoor air pollution head-on. Its proprietary PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation) tech works to purify the air around you. It had a great track record pre-pandemic rollout and was proven successful against bacteria, viruses, allergens, and other air pollutants in a number of enclosed spaces. Obviously when Covid hit the interest in indoor air purification piqued. Molekule, with a little extra funding, some from actress Maisie Williams no less, launched the Air Pro. Engineered as a portable version that needs no ductwork and therefore requires no retrofitting it provides purified air in a breeze

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