For almost two years since the pandemic hit, Ankita got comfortable waking up shortly before her morning meeting and not having to endure the infamous Mumbai traffic. Now, as the Covid-19 situation had significantly improved in her city, it was time for her to head back to the office – she sceptically did. She works for an American multinational tech company located at Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai and though she was hesitant, she was also somewhat looking forward to it. After travelling for about half an hour, she parked her car and stepped out. Little did she know that an exceptional experience awaited her.
At the entrance, automatic doors assisted her in, and a phone application allowed her to take the touchless elevator to 6th floor where she walked into her office through another automatic door. So far, she hadn’t touched anything. She recorded her attendance using the newly-installed retina scanners, almost like a sci-fi movie!
Heading to her desk that she booked on the company’s app, she found herself being awestruck by how the office had changed – LED light lamps with UVC 254 nm wavelength that breaks down bacteria, voice-activated technologies that control lighting, audio, and visual equipment, and openable panels and windows that helped increase ventilation. She finally reached her desk and was pleasantly surprised to see that her new desk and chair were designed using anti-bacterial material. At this moment, Ankita felt many things, but most importantly, she felt safe.
Just when she thought she had seen it all, she visited the washroom only to see that it had been completely transformed. A maze-like doorless entry with Electronically Commutated (EC) air curtain was at the entrance. These air curtains create an invisible air barrier that keeps the air clean from pests, dust and bad odour. Everything in the restroom from doors to faucets were equipped with motion-activated sensors to ensure hygiene and wellness. She noticed newly installed extractor fans that eliminate impure and humid air. Even the water cooler was now equipped with motion sensors!
Around 5 pm, she went to the cafeteria to grab a cup of coffee. Towards her left, she saw a digital panel with details of the healthy foods of the day. She ordered a sandwich through an online application and went to the coffee vending machine. As she waited her turn, she observed that the coffee mug came from a UV technology-enabled cabinet that is activated through hand gestures.
This proves that with changing needs, occupiers, landlords and developers can provide modern technologies that improve operational efficiency. They can look at Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filtration up to MERV 15 to improve and balance the air quality, keep a check on humidity levels and maintain it within the range of 40-70%, use High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to reduce airborne containments including the Covid-19 virus, and explore Ashrae 62.1 and 62.2 standards, which are recognized standards for acceptable IAQ and ventilation.
We live in an age that’s brimming with innovation, and one that can overcome the strangest of situations. The improved workspaces can better the physical and mental wellbeing of the new-age workforce and enhance their productivity. It may seem like a cost, but it’s really an investment – one that will reap remarkable benefits and returns for both, the landlord and occupier.
On her way home, as she looked back on this extraordinary day, Ankita felt her apprehensions fading away. As much as she enjoyed working from home, she really did miss her workplace. But the pandemic instilled a fear that stopped her from wanting to go back, something that her employer had meticulously fixed. She wasn’t just another employee ID number, but a valued team member whose safety and comfort were well taken care of. And because of this, she was invigorated and ready to go back to work.
(By Ramesh Nair, CEO, India & MD, Market Development, Asia at Colliers)