COVID-19 has brought chaos to the world and anxiety to all. We are all social creatures and most can’t wait to get back to the workplace to interact with their peers. We thrive on connecting with others. Returning to the workplace should be a comfortable transition for our people. However, before we can ask people to return to the office, we’ve got to make sure they feel safe, healthy, and valued in their workplace. While remote working is proving to be a viable alternative for some people, it lacks the important social and collaborative aspects found in the workplace. And if we are honest, who among us doesn’t long for the day we can return to the office and a sense of normalcy?
At Giant Leap we believe that work distancing needs to be introduced until we know that COVID-19 is no longer a real threat to our people and clients. We need to allow people back to the office after lockdown in an energising and comfortable manner. While we are all on lockdown it is a good time to put a strategy in place in how to future proof our offices for the coming weeks after lockdown and introduce work distancing. We know from our own surveys and Genslers 2020 survey that the workplace is still the preferred place to work, as long as it is designed to support the work been done. At a strategic level, leaders can begin to question the viability of working from home which is based on the job required and industry, however, factoring in the levels of isolation people get from been at home too long.
While long term strategies can be worked on for the new workplace it is important for us to focus on what we can implement to assist businesses in returning to normal as quickly as possible from a health and safety point of view.
What is WORK distancing?
- Unless staff are wearing masks, they need to be able to keep 1.5 metres away from one another. This needs to be kept in place until there is a vaccine or COVID 19 is no longer a real threat.
- In meeting rooms we should remove in between chairs and spread out more. Collaboration is what people crave, but where possible try keep it virtual.
- Allow gaps in between work stations or if there are benches try allow people to have a gap in between. If space allows incorporate additional workstations in the office or temporarily move teams to other spaces to spread out. Work on a 4 day in the office roster system to allow people to spread out.
- Reorient you space planning so people don’t directly face one another.
- Create clean and paperless desk policies so surfaces can be cleaned and disinfected.
- Establish screening protocols such a temperature monitoring at the office.
- Move meetings or teams to FutureSpace where they can spread out more easily if your own office space doesn’t allow. People will be 1.5 metres apart and meetings room are large to allow people to spread out.
- Companies should implement professional cleaning protocols not only for workstations, but for meeting rooms, collaborative areas, cafes, reception desks, and other common areas at regular intervals throughout the day. Employers should provide disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers throughout the office. It is worth considering bringing in professional sanitation companies.
- The air we breathe is a shared resource, so invest in air-cleaning systems to protect collaborative environments. Consider installing state-of-the-art air purification and sanitization systems. Many of these systems display real-time air quality measurements on digital screens to keep employees informed, and it will serve as a continuous disinfectant, improving air quality by reducing airborne and surface contaminants like viruses, bacteria, germs, VOCs, smoke, and other allergens.
- Reinforce good hygiene practices with well-stocked bathrooms that have touch-less soap and anti-viral cleaning supplies. Employers should also install plenty of hands-free dispensers with sanitizer that contains at least 70% alcohol in lobbies, meeting areas, and lounges. No-touch garbage and recycling receptacles are preferable. Also, door pulls, access control, and shared common areas should be disinfected throughout the day.
- Add antibacterial workstation tops to your desks.
- Specify safe and smart materials where possible. Introduce products such as copper that are antimicrobial.
- Purchase chairs or re-upholster office chairs with okeo tech fabrics to avoid germs and mildew.
- Consider how employees will feel when they prepare to return to the office. Instead of mandating that everyone come back at once, consider offering the option for people to do it in waves. This may not only provide the necessary work distancing, but it would also allow employees a greater sense of control over their health.
- Be open to new ways of working while COVID-19 lurks about. Remain open to virtual meetings and collaborations.
At Giant Leap we truly believe the workplace matters, and will find its way after COVID-19. But for now let’s be open to change and health and safety. Building a brand, a sense of community, reinforcing our organisation’s culture, and strengthening relationships with colleagues is still what the workplace is all about. The workplace is the essence of our people and how people portray our company.
If Giant Leap can assist in welcoming your people back to a better place to work in anyway please let us know at [email protected]
We can consult on the following levels :
- Space planning
- Assist with introducing collaborative spaces and to train them on how these spaces are to be used with COVID-19 in mind.
- Meeting facilities – re configuring of rooms. Class room styled. Introduction of flexible furniture, mobile products. How this product can then be integrated into their office space once COVID-19 is over.
We can consult on a technical basis:
- Air Flow within the office space
- Smart offices – Smart working environment. How to stay connected. Conference facilities.
- AV Equipment
- Power supply and reducing cost.
- Smart Buildings.
We can assist with furniture:
- Introduction of additional desks and screens to protect teams and individuals