Office planning: accommodating the new normal
As restrictions are easing up and we start acclimatising to lockdown level 2, more and more people are starting to make their way back to the office for work. That being said, just because lockdown restrictions are easing up, doesn‘t mean things can return to the way they were before – because the threat of the virus is still very real. As such, companies are required to adhere to the government guidelines which have been set out to ensure the wellbeing and safety of employees in the workplace.
We‘re looking at 5 innovative changes offices can make to fit into these to adhere to the government guidelines and ensure the safety of their employees:
Open plan office layout
Many offices nowadays have already made the move to a more open plan layout which sees desks spread out over a larger space. This setup is ideal for Covid regulations in the office which require a minimum of one and a half metres between workers when they are working. If there is enough space within the office, desks can be rearranged into a more open plan layout that meets the requirements for employees to practise social distancing within the office.
Installing desk dividers
For offices that are faced with a lack of available space, getting new desks or redesigning existing desks to include dividers or screens between individual workstations is the way to go. If desks cannot be adequately spaced out, then opting to install see-through desk dividers or screens made from plastic or even glass, is an excellent option that will enable interaction between employees while still ensuring that they – and their germs – are kept safely separated.
Furniture and workstations that are easy to clean
Having to disinfect and clean surfaces, rooms and even entire buildings is now an integral part of our Covid prevention routine. This makes having furniture and workstations that are easy to clean and disinfect an absolute must for any office, especially as most, if not all, surfaces will need to be wiped down every time they are used in order to prevent the spread of germs. Choosing materials for office furniture and workstations that allow for easy cleaning, such as melamine boards and canvas, will not only make cleaning easier but also save time.
Making employee education a focus of your office‘s post-lockdown layout is incredibly important. Ensuring that you have plenty of signs, stickers and posters which set out the new rules is critical to making sure that employees are always reminded to adhere to these lockdown guidelines. Whether it‘s a sign that limits the number of people in conference rooms or lifts, stickers on desks reminding employees to wipe down their workstations before they leave or even just posters reminding them to socially distance and sanitise regularly, having lots of visible signs that educate employees as to how the office is enforcing lockdown guidelines will play a huge role in office planning going forward.
Make sure you have good ventilation
Having good ventilation in an office is not only one of the best ways to avoid the spread of the virus, but it is also mandated by the government as one of the regulations companies have to adhere to in order for employees to return to the office. If you don‘t already have a ventilation or office climate control system which increases particle filtration set up, you‘ll need to sort that out ASAP to ensure that there is a regular supply of fresh air to the more densely populated and regularly used parts of the office such as meeting rooms and communal areas.
These are just some of the ways in which an office can be adapted to meet the standards and guidelines that characterise our "new normal". These will, in turn, ensure that employees returning to the office can be as sure of their safety as possible and can begin the process of settling back into their in-office work routine.