Repurpose Your Office Space for the Post-Covid Work World

Repurpose Your Office Space for the Post-Covid Work World

(IMPORTANT NOTICE: The recommendations on this article about Covid-19 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.)

The stay-at-home orders forced employees into flexible and remote working arrangements. Now’s the time to implement the best office strategies to maximize workflow and personnel needs.

A Great Time to Repurpose Your Office Space

The office is often seen as a place where you had to show up if you had a job, but the Covid-19 stay-at-home order changed that perception. Companies were forced into repurposing office space when their teams had to work remotely.


Photo: Adesso Executive Height Adjustable Desk

Employees in Southern California are returning once again to their previous work environments, as you can tell by the freeways that are getting more crowded.

But don’t just put everyone back in the same workstation. Instead, pause and review:

  • What worked during the pandemic’s stay at home orders in Los Angeles, Orange, or nearby counties
  • What could have worked more effectively
  • How will you be able to repurpose the existing office and make it serve more effectively than ever?

Put those hard-earned lessons to the test.

Let’s start with the purpose of an office.

Why We Need an Office

Traditionally, the office was the place where nearly all employees come to the workplace because that’s where communication and decisions happened. Teams met there, managers relayed goals to others beneath them, and directives were given and followed up on. You had to go to the office, unless you were in outside sales and seeing customers in a place like El Segundo one day and Irvine the next.


Photo: Friant Novo Panel System

Telecommuting isn’t new, and while it was tossed about as an option most employees kept going to the physical office. Now, during Covid-19, we discovered the routine of working remotely.

Let’s be realistic. Office spaces are opening up again and it’s important to have a central location or off-site locations that act as office hubs. Not everyone is going to work at home indefinitely or in some type of isolated environment.

Why?

As noted in the Harvard Study of Adult Development, people want social interactions. Healthy relationships reduce stress, and we feed off the energy of those in our department or colleagues from down the hall.

If we only work at home by ourselves then we’ll miss the funny comments from the office comic or the greetings when we walk by the receptionist desk to our cubicle. We take those little things for granted, but they’re important office morale boosters.


Photo: Cherryman Verde Reception

At its best, an office provides the tools and space to collaborate and solve problems or serve customers. Some workspaces work well in sequence under the same roof. A clothing company or manufacturing facility in Gardena or Ontario can have designers working on computer assisted design (CAD) and seamlessly send their work into production.

If a problem arises, then it’s easy for someone in production to halt the machines and huddle with the designers.

The role of an office is supporting people so they can excel in their tasks and work together to create a successful company.

But as we’ve seen in 2020, not all employees need to be in the same physical setting full-time. Sometimes, the office works well as a space to rally around where you can set and clarify goals before employees head to their home offices or other remote workspaces.

Two Types of Workspaces

We’re seeing two main types of work environments emerge: centralized workspaces and decentralized workspaces.

We’ve relaxed the hierarchy that was once the standard in our country’s industrial era, like at the old Goodyear plant that employed thousands in Van Nuys or the aerospace facilities near the South Bay.

Employees in most industries can now produce work from their homes.

What does that mean for space utilization?

Consider this. A highly centralized company that had either fixed walls or an open office plan had to make sudden changes during the height of the pandemic.
Photo: AMQ Kinex Height Adjustable Tables

Suddenly, you had to connect with your team remotely.

As restrictions are relaxed, you could insist that everyone come back in and take their assigned places. Or, you can evaluate what office strategies worked and how you can now harness the advantages of a decentralized or flexible work environment.

Here are three important takeaways:

  • Keep corporate goals as clear as possible
  • Communication is more strategic than ever
  • Trust is critical in a flexible office environment

The goals from upper management remain a guiding force. They always have been, but when you’re in the same place all the time, casual conversations and questions reinforce those goals.

In a flexible or decentralized workspace, find ways to help your team internalize those goals so they remember them.

You have to trust that your team that is going to get their work done, even if they’re not physically present. This gives the opportunity for them to be engaged and take ownership.

How to Use Your Office Spaces

A manager in a centralized office that either had fixed walls or an open office floor plan may feel that the amount of space is wasted unless it’s filled with people.

If that’s the case, consider all these uses of space in a flexible or decentralized office environment:

  • Additional room for client huddles
  • More space and freedom for collaboration
  • Areas where you can create on-site social media posts
  • Places to sit and have smaller team meetings two or three times a week
  • More room to train new hires and let them gain experience

Keep in mind that the open office plan came under fire for invading privacy. Employees were known for tuning out their colleagues by wearing earbuds or headphones and thus eliminating the hoped-for collaboration.


Photo: Trendway Conference Area

Finally, with flexible office spaces you may have workers coming into the office as a break from their home offices and the distractions they encounter there.

Make use of modular office furniture solutions or architectural walls for break areas and workstations to help repurpose your office space.

Plan and Repurpose Your Office Future with Experts

A company doesn’t just form and happen by accident and neither does a productive office. Supporting your employees with the tools they need requires design and planning.

The team at 2010 Office Furniture provides layout design and services in addition to supplying you with quality furnishings that can help repurpose your office space. Lay out your office design and plan based on your corporate goals and then get the desks, ergonomic chairs and accessories needed to maximize well-being and productivity.

Your office is not a static environment.  It’s dynamic and requires that you manage spaces so that they support your team as effectively as possible.

Read Also: How to Help Protect Workers in Open Office Floor Plans from Covid-19
Main Photo by: Trendway
Resources & Special Thanks to Respective Product Manufacturers: AMQ, Cherryman, Friant, Krug and Trendway

(IMPORTANT NOTICEThe 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.)

Ways to Help Create Social Distancing in the Office

Ways to Create Social Distancing in the Office

(IMPORTANT NOTICEThe 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:

  1. Making a quick scan of where your office already has six feet of space and where additional space can easily be created
  2. Post 6-Foot rules and guidelines to promote employee safety and well-being
  3. Route traffic through a safe flow such as a clockwise pattern around the office
  4. Fully equipped and adapted workstations for employees to work safely
  5. Designate someone to work with building managers on a comprehensive 6-Foot plan
  6. 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.

Workstations


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 NOTICEThe 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.)