Over 60 percent of employees who have responded to a survey initiated by Genesis Property, to better understand perceptions regarding the return to the office in the Covid-19 context, say they would feel more at ease if the building they work in would have more health-protective measures for them and their colleagues. The risk of getting ill remains the main reason why most continue to work from home, although 58 percent say they interact better with their colleagues when going to the office. Moreover, 41 percent feel that returning to the office can help them maintain a better work-life balance and 22 percent even say they can avoid psycho-emotional health problems this way, shows the survey conducted for Genesis Property, one of the most important class A office developers in Romania, that owns West Gate Business District and Novo Park.
Among the most important measures that would support employees to return and feel safer in the office are more efficient air and water filtration systems in the building (58.3 percent), better hygiene systems in restrooms (41.6 percent) and more efficient solutions to ensure social distancing (40.4 percent). These are part of the complex set of measures recommended by The IMMUNE Building Standard™ (IMMUNE™), the first global open-source standard to assess the resilience of office buildings to the Covid-19 pandemic and other similar health threats. In total, IMMUNE™ includes in excess of 120 measures that any office building owner or employer in the building can take to improve the immunity of the workplace.
“Ten months into the pandemic, many employees increasingly feel the need to return to the office, to interact with colleagues and feel the team spirit. However, the risk of getting ill continue to be high, so the need for measures that protect their health is more relevant than ever. Inspired by technologies and procedures developed and successfully applied in hospitals or clinics, IMMUNE™ was designed precisely to reduce the impact of a pandemic or other bacteriological or toxicological threats in office buildings, so that each of us can feel safer to return to the workplace”, says Darren Allen, Genesis Property development manager, responsible of implementing the IMMUNE™ project.
If the office would be safe for their health, 55 percent of respondents to the Genesis Property survey say they would prefer to work at least 3-4 days a week or even exclusively from the office, regardless of the epidemiological context. Today, however, almost 60 percent say they still work mostly or even entirely from home, while 16 percent work mainly in the office and 24 percent have completely resumed work at the company’s headquarters.
IMMUNE™, a solution for mitigating epidemiological risks in the office
Developed in Romania, The IMMUNE Building Standard™ was created in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, in a very short timeframe, mid-pandemic, by a team of international experts in health, technology, architecture, construction, engineering and facility management. “Just as we take care of our health and take measures to strengthen our immune system, there is a need for solutions that improve the immunity of the buildings where we spend most of our time. This is IMMUNE™’s goal: to design a healthy environment in which we will work in the future,” explains Gavin Bonner, Genesis Property vice president.
The IMMUNE™ standard was initiated in April 2020, following an investment of over one million euro for research, development, testing and implementation. For the certification of a building, an authorized assessor in the field of sustainable design, development and certification of buildings, evaluates the building based on a complex set of criteria and awards one of the three IMMUNE™ labels – Strong, equivalent to 3 stars, Powerful, equivalent to 4 stars or Resilient, equivalent to 5 stars.
The first office building in the world to be certified at the highest level – IMMUNE™ Resilient – in the next period will be the H3 building in the West Gate Business District, owned by Genesis Property and fully occupied by Ericsson, where the measures provided by the standard are already underway. Furthermore, there are discussions for the certification of several buildings in Europe, USA, UAE and Asia.
The Genesis Property survey regarding the employees’ perceptions in the future of offices was conducted in November 2020 through the iVox platform, on a sample of 1,062 internet users across the country. 8 out of 10 currently have a full-time job and approximately 77 percent hold positions that entail office work, in areas such as IT, consulting, finance, energy, real estate, automotive, or commerce, while over 17 percent are entrepreneurs or hold a management role. Almost 60 percent of the respondents are women, and over 70 percent are aged between 25 and 40.