With 65% of UK employees worrying about standards being met, according to ThirdWay, offices need to be arranged in a way to make it COVID safe. As businesses decide to return to offices over the coming months, management is having to re-think office design with their employees as the focus. Office space will need to be planned carefully to ensure staff feel safe in their office environment.
In order to ensure this occurs, and Public Health England guidelines on social distancing are met, office layouts will need to be adapted to guarantee that people will be safe from the virus. With no one-way-fits-all layout, we have selected four ways to arrange office layouts in the current pandemic.
First, offices should allow for a one-way system by using signage. This will help meet social distancing guidelines and prevent people and their families from an unnecessary risk. A one-way system will help to minimise the number of people in one space at a time and minimise the risk of transmission between staff. In order to ensure this system works, companies will need to have a well-planned spatial design. This may involve getting creative with an office space, by shifting desks around for example.
Therefore, London architects should ensure that offices can uphold to a one-way system when building and designing an office space. This design should allow for a 6-feet safety buffer zone around staff sitting at their desks keeping them safe from the reduced amount of people that may walk by.
Second, desk space should allow for distance and collaboration between 3 and 5 people. This will allow staff to work closely together, without having a plastic shield between them, as they are distanced enough to talk. By having a plastic shield, you may impact your staff’s working behaviour negatively as people struggle to work openly together. By having a desk space that allows for distance and collaboration, you are enabling a permanent solution to working separately but also together.
Third, we suggest that offices should start adding motion-sensor doors. Door handles are one of the most touched objects in an office, making them relatively unsafe from a germ spreading perspective. This will limit the number of people touching the same surface and decrease the spread of germs. By having touch-less technology in an office space, you will provide your staff with optimal environmental control.
Fourth, offices should start to have video conferencing rooms. Many employees will embrace flexible work and work from home, meaning there will most likely be less staff in the office. Additionally, because of social distancing measures, fewer people will be able to go into a room at the same time. Because of this, it is a good idea to build video conferencing booths and rooms to allow your employees to speak freely. These booths and rooms will need to be soundproofed so that the staff on a call do not impact other employee’s productivity. By having booths and rooms like this, staff will be able to make calls comfortably and privately.