By Shane Coffey, Sharp – It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year since the world as we knew it changed. Offices began to close down, travel was halted, and masks, social distancing and bulk purchasing of hand sanitizer and toilet paper became a normal part of life (well – maybe not that last one. Has anyone really figured out what the toilet paper shortage was all about?).
As for the rest of it, it’s all part of what we called the “new normal” for a long time but is now really just “normal.” Because, as it turns out, human beings are pretty adaptable, and over the last year we’ve done just that – adapted and found ways to continue to go about our personal and business lives.
The office, of course, has been one of the areas most affected by these changes in behavior. As many, if not most, office workers headed off to work from home, the office itself sat nearly empty – but not forgotten. Facilities and operations managers and IT staff, in fact, probably spent more time thinking about the office over the last year than ever before – how to bring staff back in the face of not only changed circumstances, but altered mindsets. Even once most workers have been vaccinated and we’ve achieved something close to herd immunity, we will be shaped by the fact that we’ve gone through something that changed us fundamentally. The way we think about germs, contact, and the ability to transmit disease has been altered, and that increased cognizance means the office space itself must change.
The less-touch revolution
One of the first things that changed in the spring of 2020 was our aversion to touching things. In the beginning, we thought COVID-19 was far more transmissible via surface than it likely is (wiping down groceries with Lysol was probably not necessary), and it led to some rapid changes that seem to be sticking. Key among them was technology that enabled us to control things without touching them – the most obvious example being the rapid adoption of touchless payment options. While some stores accepted Apple Pay or similar options prior to last April, that number jumped significantly. In a survey conducted by Forrester for the National Retail Federation, 69% of retailers surveyed said no-touch payments increased in 2020, 19% of consumers surveyed made a contactless payment for the first time ever in May 2020, and 57% said they were likely to continue once the pandemic subsided.
SOURCE Sharp Electronics