(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article about social distancing in the office are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)
Without a doubt, Covid-19 slammed the brakes on the popular open plan trend – where office space is maximized by seating employees together in open office spaces. Implementing an abrupt change to help remedy this by creating more social distancing in the office will take some smart space planning, but it’s quite do-able.
Integrating innovative COVID office furniture solutions into a productive work environment may help employees return safely to the office.
Here’s a suggested easy-to-follow reference list:
- Re-configure seating distances using modular workstations
- Place transparent screens and dividers strategically
- Maximize use of teleconferencing media for off-site and on-site employees
- Reduce the number of chairs in waiting areas and space them apart
- Clearly mark six-foot spaces for breakrooms and other areas where people gather
- Create a clockwise foot traffic flow
- Get expert input – the team at 2010 Office Furniture has decades of experience in space planning strategies for corporations, universities and growing businesses of all sizes.
You can do this!
Let’s dig further into each of the tips by understanding the concept of the 6-Foot Office Space.
The 6-Foot Office from Cushman & Wakefield
Photo: Groupe Lacasse PanGram
The 6-Foot Office concept from Cushman & Wakefield was designed to help reintroduce people to office workspace in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The global commercial real estate firm has laid out guidelines that include:
- Making a quick scan of where your office already has six feet of space and where additional space can easily be created
- Post 6-Foot rules and guidelines to promote employee safety and well-being
- Route traffic through a safe flow such as a clockwise pattern around the office
- Fully equipped and adapted workstations for employees to work safely
- Designate someone to work with building managers on a comprehensive 6-Foot plan
- Create and post a 6-Foot safety certificate to show your company is working to reduce the potential of person-to-person spread of germs and the coronavirus
Essential Equipment to Help Social Distancing in the Office
Photo: Groupe Lacasse PanGram
Scan your office to know how much equipment you’ll need and what you’ll need. One person who’s active at a reception desk may need a different type of shield or divider than a group of three or four people working in a pod.
Employee schedules and work habits matter as well. Modular workstations make it easy to take out a desk or put one back, depending on who’s working remotely or in the office. Modular furniture gives you the flexibility to accommodate changes in habits and preferences.
Dividers and Screens
Photo: Groupe Lacasse Stad Benching
Select the best shields and dividers for needed physical barriers.
Track-mounted screens and surface dividers may work well to help create protection among low cubicle and open plan benching workers. Use transparent and semi-transparent dividers between assigned work areas to let light filter through.
Cubicles like the Friant System 2 Workstation can act as partitions, too, and offer an attractive look.
Photo: Enwork Zori
Many workstations are designed to accommodate employees to work facing each other, such as DeskMakers TeamWorx Open Plan Desking. Instead of workers directed toward a common point, workstations can be arranged where seating is back-to-back so your team members are facing away from each other, with six feet of spacing between seats. Fortunately, it’s easy to re-configure all parts of modular furniture including tabletops, panels and storage.
Benching solutions like the Friant Verity Open Plan Benching can have single sides or double sides. With the double sides, workers sit opposite each other. You can move the desks apart so they’re not flush up against each other and then use clear dividers to create space.
It’s easy to use table-top dividers with a set-up like the Friant Interra Cubicle where modular storage units can be used to create space between employees.
Tables and Rolling Whiteboards
Photo: DeskMakers ReFit
Place sleek tables around the office to mark at least six-feet of space where necessary. Office plants placed on counter tops bring a touch of nature indoors and freshen the air. Vary the shapes of tables by using furniture like the Arcadia Delen Table, a product which comes in circular and rectangular styles.
Rolling whiteboards have already been used as separators in open office settings. It’s a way to re-imagine meeting areas where employees can sit at a distance from each other. Select a variety of multi-purpose chairs or stools to vary seating heights and provide small tables for easy note taking.
Use Remote Co-working Spaces as Needed
You may find it more budget-smart to use outside co-working space instead of completely re-configuring an office. Companies were already leveraging co-working spaces before the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mark Gilbreath, the CEO of Liquidspace, a platform that helps companies access shared offices.
Keep In-person Meeting Attendees to a Minimum for Social Distancing
Photo: Trendway Clear Wall
The use of virtual meeting applications such as Zoom has become as commonplace as gathering with co-workers around the office water cooler. You can now expect teleconferencing and streaming to remain a normal part of business communications. Consider architectural walls like OFS Obeya Architectural Structures as office solutions that can integrate well with video conferencing equipment including projectors and monitors.
Include Everyone when Creating Space in the Office
Photo: OFS Re: Benching
Person-to-person communication was much easier when people were expected to work primarily in the office. Announcements could be posted or messages passed along to an entire department. Now that some employees work remotely, ensure that your communication flow includes everybody. Don’t just send out important emails and expect people to automatically read and respond. Follow-up. Make personal phone calls or set up a phone chain to alert your team of special announcements and important topics.
Effective communication boosts morale like providing upbeat signage personalized with your brand to make people feel safe.
Share accurate health information from the CDC and your county’s public health department.
Remember to continue celebrating and acknowledging company and personal milestones to create camaraderie.
Get Expert Input and Guidance to Help with Social Distancing in the Office
Make use of expert space planning and project management to help get the results that benefit your company.
2010 Office Furniture is more than a source for purchasing quality modular office furniture. The team offers informed guidance in establishing and re-imagining office spaces for companies and non-profits of all sizes.
Tap into 2010 Office Furniture’s more than 45 years of combined experience working with Southern California’s most distinguished brands.
Contact them with your questions and needs.
Read Also:How to Help Protect Workers in Open Office Floor Plans from Covid-19
Main Photo by: Trendway Volo Wall
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: Trendway, Groupe Lacasse, Enwork, DeskMakers & OFS
(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article are NOT from health experts, and have not been medically tested nor proven as an effective cure or prevention for COVID-19 or any other diseases.)