The way we work and communicate will continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. From squeezing into a packed elevator to taking a coffee break, workplace encounters will look different when many offices and buildings re-open.
Employees will have questions about how they will return to work, and what new processes and procedures will be put into place to protect them and the people around them. As many companies focus on ways to ensure a safe and secure workplace, they will need to focus on developing a social distancing plan. By creating a detailed strategy for employees, partners and visitors, companies will be able to create awareness among their workforce.
Where should social distancing take place in the workplace? That’s easy – everywhere! Here are several key areas and activities that should be included in a social distancing strategy.
People flow is all about the way people move through a building. You will need to take a closer look at the way people move around inside your building before re-opening. You will want to make sure a safe people flow is established because this means you can assure people they can move through the space comfortably. Before re-opening, a company may want to review current floor plans to understand the best way to route foot traffic and areas where people may gather. After reviewing congregation points and shared places that put people in close proximity, you can identify how to control the flow of people through those spaces.
Here are a few examples of how to help create safe circulation within your workplace:
- Create signage that promotes awareness of recommended flow.
- Use six feet interval markings on floors or walls along hallways to help guide movement and timing.
Over the last several years, workplace trends such as open plan offices or hot desks have become increasingly popular for many companies and employees. For the new normal after COVID-19, it becomes necessary to review the workstation configuration, especially for organizations that have open floor plans. Workplaces such as these will need to evaluate how they manage workstations to ensure proper measures are taken for the health and safety of employees.
One option to create safe workstations for employees is by having employees sit at every other desk and leaving spare seats unoccupied. Another option is to move desks six feet away from each other. With either layout, you will want to avoid face-to-face seating unless the stations are six feet apart. Another way to build a safe environment is by adding a barrier between desks that can be a buffer between each station.
Social distancing means it’s time to rearrange the furniture and fixtures in break room or lobby areas. Reposition chairs, couches and tables to allow for six-foot distances in social settings. There may be even a need to reduce or remove furniture from these areas to make room for the new spacing concepts.
Rearranging the future could even freshen up your space. Think about your home; you have probably felt like you have been staring at the same four walls for way too long. Boredom with the layout of your home, it can actually cause you to feel depressed. That can be said for your workplace. So why not practice social distancing in your break room while potentially lifting the mood of your employees?
Companies will need to include meeting room protocols within their social distancing strategy. Here are several tips to consider when discussing changes to your conference room setup:
- Reduce the meeting room capacity by 50%.
- Remove and arrange seats to avoid face-to-face proximity.
- Remind employees and visitors to maintain six-foot distance with one another during meetings.
Social distancing is just part of the new processes that will come into play once companies re-open their doors and welcome their employees back to work. A safe workplace experience for your employees and guests can also offer peace of mind to your workforce and your visitors.
Learn about what ISS can do to help companies like yours create a safe working environment upon returning to the workplace by checking out our disinfection program.