Unsurprisingly, COVID-19 has been a hot topic for us recently - we’ve written about returning to the office after COVID-19 and discussed what offices will look like in the ‘new normal’, but today’s post is all about redesigning your office space for a post-lockdown world.
Lockdown is easing and whilst some are continuing to work from home, many are returning to the office - at least for part of their working week. But safety must remain a top priority. Employers must adapt and re-define the office experience to protect their staff.
So, we’ll be looking at the adjustments you can make to ensure your office is safe to allow for socially-distanced working.
First up let’s take a look at office layouts. Once you’ve calculated the maximum number of people that you can safely accommodate on site, you might need to make small alterations to your office floor plan or layout.
Introducing small, modular desks will give you the ability to rearrange your office space accordingly. If smaller desks aren’t an option, you could consider removing some chairs and adding screens to ensure your employees can safely distance from one another.
In most cases you’ll also need to introduce a one-way traffic flow to minimise contact, so don’t forget to consider this when making alterations.
Having a place to meet and brainstorm with colleagues or discuss important plans with clients is key for any office. If you’re opting for a more relaxed meeting space, consider armchairs as an alternative to sofas. They can be easily rearranged for social distancing and you won’t need to worry about visitors packing themselves onto one sofa.
You could also add a coffee table to the centre of the area to naturally increase the distance between chairs without it feeling forced.
Don’t forget to set up your meeting space to allow those using it to easily enter and exit at a safe distance from others.
Next on the agenda is something we’ve all heard a lot about recently - handwashing. Adding additional handwashing facilities and cleaning stations to your office is advised, especially near entrance and exit points and by touch-based devices such as photocopiers or keypads.
Be sure to keep these points stocked up with all of the necessary products such as hand sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and disinfectant. You should also provide extra non-recycling bins for workers and visitors to dispose of materials including tissues, wipes and single use face coverings.
With safety at the forefront of everyone's minds, employers need to be fearless in communicating with staff to let them know how they’re being protected. Employees and office visitors will want proof that they’ll be safe so you should put up plenty of signage to give clear directions even before they have entered the premises. That way they won’t be left exposed.
Communication is key so make sure you set clear expectations. Staff should see signage reminding about handwashing throughout the office and floor signage can be used to help people maintain social distancing in high traffic and meeting areas.
Signage will be needed all around the office, but some areas you’ll want to pay extra attention to are: entrance and exit points, cleaning stations, bathrooms, kitchens, meeting rooms and high traffic areas.
Even after the COVID-19 crisis is over, it won’t be business as usual but we’re here to help you re-define your office experience.
Get in touch and organise a consultation with one of our experts to further explore the interior design and social distancing solutions available to you.