The pandemic urged Echo Investment to analyse solutions the company provides its tenants as standard. The developer decided that its office buildings have to be equipped with an extended package of benefits, tailored to the new reality, that will guarantee their users a higher level of protection – Echo Pure Office. On top of that, the developer implemented a new app providing easy and useful solutions that also significantly increase tenants’ safety.
It is safe to say that the pandemic has forced many changes in the office market. All Echo’s teams were put on high alert. Their priority was to execute the project right on schedule and to guarantee the safety of employees on the developer’s construction sites. The company’s experts observed the behaviour of office workers and analysed ways to maintain higher standards of hygiene. They translated this collected knowledge into implementing solutions that eliminate most risks and strengthen the safety of users to planned and already constructed office buildings.
AIR IS THE KEY
After a careful analysis of tenants' needs, Echo Investment focused on providing clean and healthy air. By starting up cooperation with ActivTek, the company invested in a system that helps ensure the highest indoor air quality for users both during and after the pandemic. As part of the new Echo Pure Office standard, ventilation ducts in office spaces were equipped with proven RCI ActivePure technology, often used in hospitals. Echo Investment is the first developer in Poland and Europe to introduce this solution to office projects on such a large scale.
FIVE GOLDEN RULES
In order to systematize methods of management of finished office buildings, Echo Investment has prepared a special manual for managers named ‘Five for security. 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, etc. Such a guide with the most important applicable rules was distributed to every manager of Echo Investment's office buildings.
The pandemic also influenced the way we think of space in the office. It introduced new challenges, both for Echo’s tenants, designers and leasing experts. Although flexibility was a requirement for some time now, the pandemic has visibly strengthen this trend. The user experience when designing office spaces became the priority. It was confirmed that truly user-friendly office must combine many functions, such as: meeting places, quiet work rooms, places for relaxation or casual brainstorming. Certainly, the experience of the pandemic emphasized the value of the office as a place for face-to-face meetings, which play a very important role in maintaining relations between employees, affect productivity, as well as build the identity of teams and entire companies, and thus have a real impact on business.
KEEP YOUR DISTANCE
The new wave in the design of office spaces is introducing possibility of maintaining social distance whenever and wherever it’s necessary. It also applies to common areas in office buildings where different people meet. And here, too, flexibility is the key – in its projects Echo Investment introduces division of common areas into zones – waiting rooms, places to work or relax. In addition, the developer’s experts emphasize that even more attention should be paid to arranging the areas around the investment and providing the opportunity to spend time, rest and work outdoors, which tenants appreciate now even more than before the pandemic.
TOUCH LESS, DO MORE
Echo Investment also decided to equip a pilot office project – West 4 Business Hub in Wrocław – 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, as well as 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.
LONGING FOR THE OFFICE
2020 was a year of cautious and conservative tenants' approach to lease contracts but the situation is gradually stabilizing. There’s no drastic reduction in the leasable area on the market. Companies are still interested in leasing office space – however most tenants put a lot more emphasis on the distribution of office space between employees. On top of that, after a year of working from home, people miss their offices. Now owners, managers and tenants have to devote a lot of energy to make their offices even more secure and comfortable. Echo Investment believes that shifting from a temporary preventive mode to introduction of a permanent new standard of protection will guarantee that people will feel safe in their workplace at all times.