There has never been a better time for an office redesign than right now, during the coronavirus scare. Ok, it probably wasn’t planned, but in 99 per cent of the offices in the UK today, the need to change the layout pretty much goes without saying.
Social distancing measures has meant certain office measures are now a no-no. This includes cramming desks into small spaces, hot-desking and communal working practices. And that can often mean having to redesign an entire office layout.
So, what sort of things should you be thinking about in order to comply with the government’s new guidelines and, of course, safeguard your staff?
Protective screens. You’ll already have viewed plenty of these perspex screens in retail outlets. Well, not surprisingly, screens also have a role to play in the office. But they don’t have to be plastic and not necessarily an after-thought either. A redesign could incorporate glass screens to separate particular areas of the office. Temporary screens in the form of moveable panels are another option an employer can consider when it comes to separating individuals at work.
This is a bit of a no-brainer. The bigger surface area on a desk, the more physical space between the nearest person. This may mean you won’t be able to get as many staff in the office as before, but with others working from home the balance could be easier to achieve than you may think.
Signage. Staff, and visitors, will be encouraged to walk in a particular direction (as in supermarkets). That way there is less chance of inadvertent contact.
Sanitisation units. Cleaning stations are set to become much more common-place in offices. And not just in the toilet. Expect to see a sanitisation unit the minute you enter a building and again, in the office itself. Staff will be encouraged to regularly cleanse their hands throughout their working day.
Wider corridors. More staff – particularly in larger multi-storey offices – will be walking and using the stairs rather than the lift. For obvious reasons.The lift, like hot-desking, has been demonised as a sure-fire way to spread the virus and we will likely be seeing less of it in the future. And which is just as well – stairclimbing and walking is far healthier.
Obviously the fewer objects we touch, the less likely we are to pass on Covid-19. As a result, technology is going to play an even larger part in office life than it does at present.Facial recognition pass codes, for instance, will probably become common-place. So too will motion sensors for opening doors. Office ventilation, heating and lighting will also probably end up being controlled remotely (we can already do this at home, after all, via our smartphones).
Outdoor access. Just as restaurants are being given the go-ahead to open outside their existing premises in order to ensure social distancing between tables, offices too can make better use of outside space. Large offices with terraces can use those to allow staff to work in the fresh air on laptops, for instance. And that brings us on nicely to our next point:
Biophilia. Study after study has shown that ‘bringing the outdoors in’ in the form of plants and flowers improves employee morale. It also introduces more oxygen into stale office air, and it encourages staff to think about nature and outdoors.
Meeting areas. The Board Room where individuals sat huddled together around one large table will also be a likely casualty of coronavirus. Instead, offices are more likely to use meeting areas where staff can sit on fabric cubes or similar and which they can move around to allow them to be socially distanced.
Here at Metric office furniture and interiors we have been designing and fitting offices for more than five decades now. As such, we are familiar with the type of desk, seating and storage furniture available, as well as space planning ideas using CAD technology.
We can help you when it comes to complying with the government’s recent guidelines on safe office working (link to article) for employees. In fact, we can carry out that assessment for you. You will be able to see how your office will meet those needs visually using computer technology, before you need to start moving any furniture around.