One-way corridors, high screens around desks and sanitisation stands – With the government lifting stay-at-home regulations, these are the few things that will soon become office standards across the globe. From small start-ups to giant corporations, the question of how to adapt to the changing needs of the business seems to be surfacing. Most employees have grown weary of isolation and look forward to being back in the office. With this being said, as organisations prepare themselves to bring back people in waves, a strategy to do so safely is crucial.
We bring you 10 tips that will help you reorganise your office space and get it ready to take on those workdays safely! We also have expert tips from Albert Sterry, our Furniture and Interior Specialist at Codex, so make sure you read on!
#1 MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING
One of the most effective ways to hinder the spread of the virus is to maintain appropriate social distancing measures in the workplace. These measures include requiring employees to stay six feet apart, discouraging them from shaking hands and prohibiting the exchange of items among them. Though all of us are aware of these protocols, we may tend to overlook them. Using floor tape to mark area two metres apart, signage on how to wash hands the correct way and banners of safety guidelines are great visual cues you can use to reinforce safe habits among employees.
EXPERT TIP – “We have to maintain a two metres distance for the sake of our safety and people around us. Maintaining this distance in the office can present a problem. To achieve this, it may be necessary to re-organise your office layout or if this is not possible, use effective screening to safeguard your staff.”
#2 RE-ORGANISE EXISTING FURNITURE
The need for re-doing your entire workspace can be negated by a little planning and innovation. Start by reviewing your floor plans to understand how your layout may need to be slightly re-arranged to maintain a distance of 2 metres. Consider marking quadrants on the floor of open areas, using protective barriers, or removing seating to prompt social distancing.
EXPERT TIP – “Adapting the office layout to have the appropriate safe distance between staff can seem like a herculean task. We have never had to approach office layout as we do now, so getting the best advice is your starting point. At Codex, we have Furniture and Interior Specialists who will give you the guidance you need every step of the way!”
#3 OPEN SPACES FOR MEETINGS
These times call for innovative measures, so meetings in your regular meeting room may not be the best option. If you must meet with more than 5 people, take your meeting outdoors or any area that is open. Open areas can become the new conference room where people can meet to discuss, while naturally distancing themselves from each other. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, standing can also boost productivity and creativity, making it a viable option for your business. You can also leverage flexible furniture like movable screens and whiteboards to create boundaries and help you brainstorm.
EXPERT TIP – “Creating new meeting spaces without comprising safety can be difficult. However, having an open space with defined two-metre spacing or minimising the number of attendees at a meeting can be the solution. You can also screen off designated areas for meetings by using mobile or fixed screens.”
#4 REDUCE OR ELIMINATE SHARED DESKING
The normal ways of working will have to be reshaped in the post-COVID-19 world. “Hot-desking” might have been a trend at some point, but it is going to be a thing of the past. It might be a hard pill to swallow, but changes will have to be made to provide a safe workspace and retain talent. If the abolition of open-plan configurations and creation of owned spaces is not possible, heightened cleaning protocols will have to be put in place for your existing furniture.
EXPERT TIP – “A great option to consider would be to work from home or alternate days at work. This not only ensures only half of your staff are in the office at any one time but also reduces numbers and allows for social distancing to be achieved. Having a home office kit with all your needs can be supplied by Codex!”
#5 ADD SPACE DIVIDERS
The most logical way to stop the spreading of germs in the workplace is to introduce barriers between employees. This works best for businesses where implementing the two-metre distance is not reasonably practical. Separate side-by-side employees and aisle zones using easy-to-clean Melamine or Perspex Screens. If there are no cubicle walls, you can also opt for free-standing screens that offer an impervious barrier between employees.
EXPERT TIP – “Screens have always proved to be a useful way of dividing office space and desks. Available in fabric or Perspex, these screens can be used where there is no option or ability to create the extra space needed to social distance. The height of your existing desk can also be extended with add-on Perspex screens without compromising on the natural light within the office.”
#6 INCREASE HEIGHT BOUNDARIES
Densely populated workspaces make your employees feel uncomfortable and demotivated due to the health risks involved. If a two-metre distance cannot be achieved, implement the highest boundary above the workstation on all sides to prevent exposure. Another great concept is to add extensions to the top of existing partitions to make them at least 1500mmH above the floor.
EXPERT TIP – “If you can’t get to the safe two meters, then go up. Higher screens may provide the answer. This can be achieved with screens or storage units or individual high sided carrels. If you’re looking for low-cost yet effective solutions, we would be most than happy to assist you.”
#7 GREEN OFFICE ELEMENTS
The colour green is known to enhance moods and be an effective stress buster. Research conducted at the University of Hyogo in Japan states that small potted plants can relieve stress in workplaces. These are definitely anxious times, hence elements such as plants can work wonders for the mental health of your employees. You can opt for plants or even green screens to help create buffers between stress triggers and your employees.
EXPERT TIP – “Incorporating softer aesthetics and greenery around the office will help reduce the anxiety and stress that comes with these times. Using plants to separate spaces can not only improve air quality but also can create a calming and more tactile environment.”
#8 ONE WAY ROUTING
Introducing a one-way system in the office can prove to be a useful hack when the doors of your offices open. A visually displayed one-way routing can make traffic flows completely safe, thereby making it easier to maintain social distancing at all times. Adding signage about the one-way path on floors and walls will ensure employees follow this rule of safety while avoiding bottlenecks in hallways.
EXPERT TIP – “Floor signs directing staff to walk only in one direction effectively stop staff from coming in contact unnecessarily. As with all guidelines, this must be monitored to ensure the rules are followed. Where it is not possible to use directional signage due to office layout, a re-orientation of the existing desks may help solve the problem.”
#9 CLEAN DESKS
Workstations, particularly shared ones are a hotbed of bacteria. With the current pandemic, it is important for your company to introduce a clean desk policy where all non-essential items can be stored in drawers, rather than on the desk. This will not only keep bacteria from lurking but also ensure proper cleaning and sanitation. If you are planning on re-doing your workspace altogether, select surfaces that are easy to clean preferably with protective coatings. In addition to these tips, keep in mind to provide your staff with necessary office stationery to eliminate the possibility of sharing objects.
EXPERT TIP – “Your personal workspace is your desk and keeping it clean a necessity. A clean desk policy should be in place, so it is easy to clean and sanitise each evening. As a bonus this is also in line with GDPR guidelines.”
#10 EASY ACCESS TO SANITISATION PRODUCTS
If you want your employees to follow safety guidelines, you must make it easy for them to do so. Providing employees with tissues, hand sanitisers and other PPE they may need to stay safe while performing tasks is an effective way to reinforce this message. Consider including sanitisation stations at office entrances and near work points. These mobile units are available in touch-free options, allow the floor to be cleaned and won’t cause any disturbance to your existing furniture layout.
EXPERT TIP – “Mobile hand sanitiser units can easily be placed in any location ideally by the entrance to a workplace but also at designated places within the office. Keeping phones, keyboards and mics sanitised, cleaning floors and doors at regular intervals should be an integral part of your overall office etiquette.”
Getting ready to return to work post-COVID-19? Our team of professionals can guide you through everything you need to ensure proper safety & social distancing measures are adhered to for your workplace!
Book a FREE CONSULTATION with our Office Furniture & Interior specialists below today!