Returning To The Workplace, What Our Clients Are Doing…
In our article, ‘Adapting the Workplace To Covid-19’ we addressed a number of options, solutions and approaches for your consideration when planning the reopening of your office in the wake of COVID-19, this article continues to offer invaluable insight.
Now that many of you have returned to the office in full or part, we wanted to share some of the approaches we are implementing with our clients large and small – each with their own unique challenges, but a shared commonality in the requirement to adapt and be agile.
Getting Back to Work at Work
For many, the return to the office has been central to the return to business – both in the physical and psychological sense, but the success of that return hinges on companies adapting their premises and their policies to ensure they do what they can to maintain a healthy, safe working environment for their team. The Government issued guidelines for workplaces to follow but ultimately, the onus is on each of us as an employer and manager of a workplace, to ensure we implement the right procedures and protocols suited to the environment and operation of the business, ensuring our ongoing commitment to the health and welfare of our staff, our customers or those visiting our premises.
How to Adapt the Office ?
At the onset of Covid-19, it was easy for some to take a drastic approach to the solution and remove a considerable amount of the furniture in an effort to implement social distancing in the workplace, but that raised another question…. What about the staff?
In our many consultations, we find that our clients had a view on how best to adapt their workplace and with some deeper discussion, we have been able to identify more manageable approaches for them. Subtle changes, big on impact.
Maintaining Social Distancing in the Office
Most offices today are designed around an open plan layout with community and collaboration at the core, but now this very premise is being challenged by the 2m rule…. Or is it?
Open plan offices work because they break down barriers and encourage teamwork, now we were being asked to maintain space and create a division. To many this seemed counterintuitive, which it is, if considered in the extreme; a natural reaction to change like this pandemic.
We are addressing these challenges head-on, removing the fear, panic and confusion and helping our clients implement the changes needed, without upsetting the natural dynamic and personality of the workplace.
Social Distancing Solutions
Given that many workplaces operate team-based desk configurations, we have been able to work with our clients to break these up with the provision of additional desk legs, which amends the framework of the desks thus offering one solution towards social distancing with minimal cost.
For example, with teams of 8, 6, 4 and 2 – we have redistributed the seating to a 6, 4, 2 and single configuration.
This has then been further supported with the introduction of privacy screens between desks (varying heights available) or in the case of some clients, adding height to existing screens from our range of cleverly designed protective panels and screening from our manufacturers such as Actiu.
Re-Purposing Your Space
For many, existing meeting rooms were no longer fit for purpose as they contravened social distancing requirements, however they are proving to be very useful in terms of re-purposing office space and are being designated for the accommodation of staff, enabling the seamless redistribution of desking whilst maintaining the required spacing.
Floor Signage and Marking
There is no shortage of signage options for your workplace, but one item that has become extremely popular among our clients are printed carpet tiles. Adhesive floor markings are only suitable for certain areas but with our printed floor tiles, you can replace existing floor tiles with smart, suitably printed social distancing images or text, designed to fit subtly into your existing design. When appropriate, they can be removed in favour of the original carpet.
Combining Office-Based Working with Remote Working
At the beginning of this year, as the extent of COVID-19 unfolded globally, Enterprise Singapore, a division of the Government of Singapore strongly recommended several approaches to managing the workplace, one of which has become the norm for companies around the world; the rotation of staff working from home and working in the office.
Their recommendation was where possible, teams were split into two. Ensuring that the two teams never crossed paths and when one was office based, the other worked from home and vice versa. It also meant that if an extreme situation arose, the company could function normally without any one specific department being compromised in their ability to carry out their duties.
If there is one thing that has come out of this pandemic it is the speed at which companies adapted to working from home. For many, they identified a noticeable spike in productivity and the realisation that working from home offered considerable benefits to all – primarily in how it greatly assisted in social distancing in the wake of changes to the office layout.
Now that offices have reopened their doors, many of our clients are operating remarkably successful staff rotation policies whereby employees are splitting their time between working from home and working in the office.
Successful Home Working
In the initial weeks of lockdown, we were all working from home and with the uncertainty of the time, there was an assumption that this would be a short term situation – therefore sitting at a kitchen counter or balancing the laptop on ones lap ‘sufficed’. It wasn’t until we all realised that working from home was going to become the norm, that the need for properly designated work areas in the home, comfortable ergonomic furniture and access to proper lighting would be vital to its success, providing comfort, routine, a clear separation from home life, enabling a productive working environment.
With this in mind, we work with many clients and individuals to provide working from home furniture options including packages based on grants employees were receiving, a range of affordable, stylish working from home furniture and accessories, desktop printing / scanning devices and stationery deliveries to home addresses.
Other Successful Solutions For Your Workplace
New Meeting Space Options
Earlier in this article, we discussed how meeting rooms are being repurposed and used as general office space. When quiet or confidential meeting spaces are required, we are recommending flexible solutions including technology, which will unite those on site with those working from home such as our Samsung Flip Digital Whiteboard
We suggest combing this technology with mobile panels, designed with built in acoustics such as those from Lintex, which enable you to create a private meeting space anywhere in your office as required.
There are also multiple options available to you in terms of mobile meeting pods, which provide a physical shield and privacy.
Our friends at Camira Fabrics have curated a collection of performance fabrics and vinyls which are all anti-microbial, bleach cleanable, waterproof, and flame retardant to the higher level Crib 5 Medium Hazard standard.
The benefit of the anti-microbial fabric is in its ability to help prevent bacterial and fungal build-up on textiles.
Our Solutions team has a great range of temperature screening products suited to many different business types, from SMEs to Enterprise. Offering you an additional level of health security at your point of entry.
For every concern or issue we will find a solution and if you speak to our in-house interiors specialists and CAD experts, we will work with you to help you navigate your way through these changes and challenges. Call our team on 01 217 8000 or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you might have.