Of all the collateral damage dished out by Covid-19, cash has endured a particularly torrid time. Fears over “contaminated” coins and banknotes fuelling the spread of the virus – coupled with lockdowns limiting opportunities to spend – have severely scarred the popularity of physical money to the extent it may never recover.
The pandemic has certainly added significant thrust behind the swing to contactless card and mobile payments, with a report – by processing company Worldpay – revealing that in several Western countries less than one in 10 shop payments are now made in cash and predicting usage will continue to fall over the course of the next three years.
This trend for touchless transactions has also transitioned to the workplace – another area of life dramatically impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.
Although reports of the death of the office are, in the words of Mark Twain, “greatly exaggerated”, there can be no denying that a period of rehabilitation and reimagination is required to rebuild employee confidence.
Companies are already rapidly opting to adopt hybrid working patterns – adapting their offices to accommodate only select numbers of staff on any given day, scheduling remote shifts and introducing hot desking and more spacious break-out areas for on-site collaboration and socialising.
Technology is at the forefront of this healing process and savvy company and property owners are exploiting modern advancements to transform their buildings into near touchless environments.
An innovative leap beyond simply reducing the number of desks to create social-distancing friendly spaces, some firms and corporate campuses have adopted smartphone apps to manage everything from ordering lunch from on-site restaurants to reserving conference rooms and parking bays.
And at Duke McCaffrey we are already helping a number of our clients to go further by incorporating a cache of contactless features into their property designs.
Automated entry and door systems, intelligent lighting and motion-activated bathroom facilities are, for example, proverbial light touches that can be applied to minimise human touch.
However, not all Covid-induced structural and fit-out changes are reliant on tech. Indeed, in respect of ventilation there is a growing desire from occupants for a return to traditional methods. Affording office workers or residents the comfort blanket of being able to open a window to access fresh air sounds simple but is a concession not common to modern, pre-pandemic builds, which favour mechanical ventilation systems.
As with automation, offering future tenants the option of both the natural and mechanical comes at an additional cost – albeit one that is likely to pay dividends in the short- to medium-term.
Whether such measures are a knee-jerk reaction to an ever-evolving situation or prudent futureproofing is largely irrelevant, they are considered must-haves in the here and now. Consequently, those seeking to make their properties marketable need to respond to the mood of the market and demonstrate flexible use.
Such action is now being taken by a number of Duke McCaffrey’s visionary clients within the residential sector, with additional thought being given to enhancing the home environment by fitting out amenity spaces better suited to comfortably accommodating work-from-home employees.
As experienced construction consultants we thrive on meeting such challenges and have the necessary expertise to assist projects of all sizes in adopting an agile approach – be it creating attractive residential settings or overseeing Covid-conscious plans for multi-tenancy commercial complexes. The days of carrying around cash may soon be numbered but, rest assured, our currency in construction remains as strong as ever.