Can’t Touch This: Rethinking the Office in COVID Times

Noga Grinberg

6 October, 2020

A creative photography project by global boutique flex workspace provider Mindspace, interpreting the future of the physical workspace

Since its inception, the office has been a necessary place for people to come together and work. With time, the humble office has evolved to encompass numerous other functions – practical, social and even emotional. As people created shared spaces filled with memories, the office has become synonymous with our everyday modern world.

Remote working has traditionally been viewed as the holy grail for a work-life balance and the epitome of flexibility that startups spouted to attract younger talent and to remain agile. For better or for worse, Covid has thrust remote working directly into the limelight and forced us to rethink what work means within this ‘new normal’. How will our working habits change? What office activities will become obsolete? What role will offices play in our everyday lives? What aspects of office life will we miss most?

Inspiration for this creative photoshoot was drawn from a survey of over 1,000 members across the UK, Europe, Israel and the US. While the survey revealed a high level of anxiety surrounding the return to the office in the time of a pandemic, it also revealed a yearning to return to the office space. This photoshoot interprets these thoughts in an unexpectedly playful way.

Welcome to the New Normal

Greeting is an important part of the office experience. Having someone welcome you upon arrival, greeting you with a smile and “good morning” is more than just a formality – it introduces a sense of home.

What does it mean to be greeted today by a set of rules and regulations, do’s and don’ts?
How are we affected by the fact that every step we take in the shared space is now monitored and sanitised? Where within this new contrast can we find freedom and feel at ease?

Come Together-ish

As we’re quickly discovering, social distancing is taking a psychological toll on us all. By contrast this new order has also helped us rediscover the power of simply being present. The ability to share a space with others, even with distance restrictions, shines through all the corona masks in the world. The power of humans coming together. 

The Evergreen Office

Plants in the workplace have been proven to help reduce stress, work-related tiredness and (we hope) Corona fatigue. Greenery can make us mentally stronger to face unexpected curveballs. 

Life may feel currently on hold. But our ambitions and desires are still there, waiting to be fulfilled. In a world that has grinded to a stop, how do we keep growing? Like a seed buried deep in the soil.

Have you ever seen a tree give up? Year after year, it grows taller and takes root deeper, in spite of the changing seasons. We should take inspiration from trees.

Can’t Touch This

We constantly interact with the world around us through our five senses – we see, hear, taste, smell and touch it. These are the building blocks of our perception of reality. People who are deprived of one of these abilities must learn how to adjust their perception, but what happens when a whole society suddenly forbids one of these senses? What if for some reason we were told we need to cover our eyes from now on or avoid hearing? 

Luckily we’re not there but the restrictions placed on our sense of touch is reminding us just how much we actually use it every day and how important it is for our function and mental well-being.

Distant Reflections

In the absence of a shared working space, when all work is done remotely without physical encounters, we are left with mere reflections of our colleagues, with a digital representation of the people we know. Is this enough to keep relationships going? 

How virtual can human beings get before we turn into something else? 

We hope and wish that soon enough we won’t have to ask these questions anymore. 

To view the complete creative photography project, click here.

About the author

Noga is a content producer and creative projects leader for Mindspace.

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