Office Space Planning For A Socially Distanced Workplace
The country is slowly reopening, businesses around Illinois are working to transform offices safe spaces, and employees are eager to return and get back to normal. But what is normal, now, and what will opening even look like?
Mostly, it will look different. Yes, employees will hopefully be able to come in and collaborate, but from a safe, social distance. Regular cleaning will be a part of the new routine and many workers will now expect their employers to provide them with these sanitation supplies.
Despite the challenges, businesses are getting it done. Through strategic office designs, protective equipment like social distancing barriers, and updating policies to include staggered work times, employers are finding ways to make social distancing in the workplace a new way of life.
Questions To Ask When Planning A Socially Distanced Office Space
We are in unchartered territory when it comes to office planning. Many businesses have never had to think through something as complex as a global health crisis when simply picking out office furniture. Coming into it with a plan helps. Before you start loading up your online cart with sneeze guards and anti-microbial supplies, take some time to answer these questions first.
How is the office set up currently?
Is your space open, with tables instead of desks, and no designated personal areas? If so, you might be looking at a complete office reconfiguration.
What are your priorities when it comes to an office?
Think through each room and try to see if it’s useful in the current climate. For example, how much use and enjoyment will your employees get out of a break room while social distancing is in place? Is there a better temporary use for that space?
How can I encourage collaboration and social distancing simultaneously within the office?
A properly designed space should give you the freedom to do both. Using virtual tools, such as productivity apps, can encourage employees to connect without interacting. .
Are there other creative ways to socially distance in our existing space?
Outdoor areas can be the perfect way to gather multiple employees together while respecting social distancing.
Do we need a stronger service to account for all of the video calls we will be doing?
Many businesses were already using video for much of their communication, but with COVID-19, this has become a necessity.
Do I have existing supplies and furniture that can re-purposed in a new way right now to encourage social distancing?
You might not need new office products. It might be that your existing office supplies work great if they are installed and arranged in a way that fosters social distancing.
What essentials can I use to make this office feel like a safe space even in the midst of COVID-19?
Prioritize the items you need to transform your space and focus on the essentials.
Tips For A Sanitary & Socially Distanced Office Space:
- Add dividers and barriers between desks
- Keep janitorial supplies well-stocked and easily accessible throughout the common spaces of the office, including the breakroom, bathrooms, and front desk.
- Set up social distancing signs around the office, especially around heavily used areas like bathrooms and elevators.
- Add hand sanitizer pumps to every entrance, doorway, and desk space.
- Download our free guide to office space planning & design to help you navigate all of these questions.
No matter how much planning and preparation goes into the office design before it re-opens, there will be an adjustment period. Social distancing goes against most businesses’ natural inclination towards teamwork and collaboration. That’s okay. The dust will settle and both you and your employees will find a way to navigate this new workplace. In the meantime, don’t be afraid to ask an expert for help with the office design, try new things, and adjust on the fly, to help your business to adapt in this ever-changing time.