After several weeks of isolation, it is time to unfreeze the economy, and thus return to offices. The COVID-19 pandemic showed that we need to give some thought to our usual habits, so Echo Investment is changing its office buildings to make them safer, more comfortable and better prepared for future epidemiological risks.
COVID-19 has redefined personal complacency and it has changed our routine. The pandemic has also caused many changes in the job market, including a temporary switchover for employees to work remotely. After several weeks of isolation, both organizations and employees return to their offices. Architects and design engineers of Echo Investment, a developer that has been operating on the Polish office market for nearly 25 years, have analyzed their current design intent in terms of new requirements and hygiene recommendations. As a result of this study, the company is launching a "healthy office buildings" program, i.e. a number of new solutions to meet post-COVID needs, in buildings that are projected and under construction.
- The epidemic is a completely new experience in our times. It requires us, as co-creators of social spaces, to think about completely new aspects of their functioning. In recent weeks, we have been observing behaviors of office workers, analyzing ways of maintaining higher hygiene standards and looking for elements that can cause the greatest difficulties. We have translated this knowledge to introduce solutions eliminating most risks and strengthening the safety to office buildings that are projected and under construction. We believe that nowadays our "healthy office buildings" program is an essential element for maintaining the comfort of our tenants and their employees - says Rafał Mazurczak, Echo Investment's Board Member responsible for office business.
Echo Investment's designers have verified several dozen scenarios of using office buildings. They have traced a path of employees that get to work by car, public transport or bicycle. They have played a role of guests, couriers and suppliers, building managers or canteen operators. As a result, they have already decided to implement new solutions or made sure that those previously used are adequate.
- We have adopted a rule of limiting the use of finishing materials that are difficult to maintain and disinfect. We have made sure that our practice of using openable windows in buildings should be standard. We are launching more and more non-contact devices and systems. In addition, we use completely new technologies that reduce epidemiological risks or allow us to react quickly and effectively if necessary. The first projects where Echo Investment will start implementing the most important post-COVID innovations are React in Łódź and West 4 Business Hub in Wrocław. Basing on our experience from these pilot projects, we will launch solutions improving safety and comfort in each of our further buildings - says Rafał Mazurczak.
React with clean air
The first building of the React office complex in Łódź reached its target height a few days ago. The construction of the reinforced concrete structure has been completed, the façade and windows are being installed. The seven-story project with a total area of 15 thousand sqm is being developed at one of the main streets in Łódź i.e. on Piłsudskiego Avenue. Despite the construction is advanced, Echo Investment's designers have implemented special devices influencing air quality in the building. These devices purify air, drawing on solutions naturally occurring in nature. This technology can be applied without any obstacles when the building, is normally used by people inside. Thanks to it, ventilation systems will not carry toxic fungi, mould, bacteria and viruses in the air, thanks to which tenants’ employees will not inhale harmful pathogens and pollutants. In addition to protecting against potential viral risks, such devices will be able to handle smog, that is another challenge nowadays.
Contactless West 4 Business Hub
The second pilot building - West 4 Business Hub - will be equipped with a mobile application that will guide an employee or a visitor through a building in such a way as to limit their contact with outsiders, buttons and panels where harmful germs may accumulate. It will show a way to a designated parking space, inform about a visitor by a virtual reception desk and help to reach a destination. Guests will also receive all necessary information regarding a meeting at a company's office, including existing safety rules. This will allow, among other things, to control a flow of people from outside through the building. A great asset is also that the application will allow for effective use of a parking lot.
The construction of the first phase of West 4 Business Hub started in February 2019. The building will offer over 15.5 thousand sqm of office space on five levels. Its facade is almost ready, and fitting-out works are carried out inside. The developer is preparing space for tenants. The completion of the office building is scheduled for August this year.
‘Five for safety’ in finished buildings
In order to systematize methods of management of finished office buildings, Echo Investment has prepared a special manual for managers named ‘Five for safety’. It contains a description of rules and actions focused on five areas: disinfection, protection, keeping distance, information and communication, including recommendations concerning hygiene and safety standards. There are such recommendations as disinfection of common areas every 30 minutes, gloves and masks available at a reception desk, "clean in & clean out" rules for all employees and building staff, recommendation of one-way traffic (a person entering a building is going by an elewator, a person leaving a building is going by stairs), dedicated arrangement of furniture in common areas or transparent information about disinfection and cleaning in common areas – reports put in a visible place. Such a guide with the most important applicable rules will be given to every manager of Echo Investment's office buildings. The manual will also be available for companies and organizations that want to implement similar standards on their spaces.