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Tips to get your office and workspace ready for the new normal


office design for social distancing in London

They say you can learn a lot from a person by how they react in a challenging situation. Being caught in a thunderstorm or untangling wires can make our masks slip, revealing our true emotions.

During these extraordinary past few weeks, we’ve seen people and companies respond to COVID-19 in a variety of ways: fear, optimism, panic, humour, strength, uncertainty and curiousity. But one uniting factor seems to be this: resilience.

Life goes on, days move forward, and people are adapting to their situation. Working from home has become the norm for many of us, although a recent workspace study led by Hannah Nardini of WKspace, showed that by week six of working from home, the novelty was wearing off. Now that we’re in week eight, people’s enjoyment levels are starting to drop as cabin fever is well and truly setting in.

Now that we’re being encouraged to return to work where possible, we’ve been looking ahead, both short- and long-term, to consider the best strategy for welcoming employees back into the workplace.


Office Design For Social Distancing

Activity Based Working (ABW) has been an integral feature of many workspaces in the past decade. Businesses must now consider ABW as a way of providing multiple spaces so workers can choose the best environment for their current task – a phone box for a call, a pod for concentrated working, a booth for a scrum meeting or more small meeting rooms for video meetings with those working from home.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Agree a staff occupancy strategy with your team to ensure that office numbers don’t ever reach full capacity. The safety of workers comes before any other business decision.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Consider implementing a hot desking system where staff collect a disposable desk cover from a designated collection point on arrival in the office which can be safely disposed off at the end of the day.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Clear desk policy – never has this been more important! Removal of personal items and previously zoned “personal dens” will enable you to control germs transferred between team members.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Consider removing banks of desking to ensure safe gaps are maintained between desks. If possible, put every other desk out of action to give space between employees.

Office Design And Build In London

Wayfinding signage and designated routes. Consider printed carpet tiles or temporary flooring graphics to highlight 2m zones around desks, single direction routes through the office and directional signage to washrooms and sanitisation stations.

Office Design London Including Hand Sanitising Station

Sanitisation stations should be located outside or just inside the doors of your building, outside washrooms, and in your kitchen and breakout space.

Office Design For Social Distancing

The kitchen and breakout areas have been highlighted as a cause for concern in the workspace. Consider whether a staff policy can be safely operated to ensure overcrowding doesn’t happen around the coffee machine, toaster, sink and dishwasher. Perhaps now is the time to relax your previous “No eating at the desk” rule to prevent staff mass congregating in areas previously dedicated for eating and socialising.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Review and manage key touchpoints. Filing cabinets, fridge doors, taps and doors have been highlighted as major touchpoints that need consideration.

AW Spaces Office Design And Build Company Policy

Communicate with your staff. Get buy-in on proposed travel, occupancy, hot desking, eating and hygiene policies which can then be documented in a COVID-19 Workplace Company Policy. People can then feel included, be clear on what changes have been made, and sign up to the amended policy before returning to work.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Check in with your building facilities team to discuss hygiene and safety in the common parts of the building. Particular attention should be paid to reception and waiting areas, security barriers, lifts and stairs – for both staff and visitors alike.

Office Design For Social Distancing

Speak to your cleaning company and make a plan that might include a deep clean before staff return to work, increased cleaning weekly or daily, and specific cleaning strategies around elements of the office that may not have been much attention pre-Covid-19.

Resilience means “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. Together, we will carefully and strategically help your business find its feet again.

Get in touch with one of our consultants so that we can begin developing a resilient workplace for you.

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