Cramped and open office spaces were considered the norm just a few short months ago. But, a deadly global pandemic can shift trends rather quickly. If you can currently reach out and touch someone from your workstation, then your office isn’t allowing for social distancing.
Not all employees can work remotely, so those who need to be in an office environment need to follow certain guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that workers maintain a 6-foot separation to protect workers both now and against a potential second wave of COVID-19 cases. Here is how some businesses are addressing social distancing in the office through design.
The 6 Feet Office
International Real Estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which has managed the return to work of nearly one million people in China, has developed a workplace design concept that incorporates social distancing. The concept embraces the ‘six feet rule’ to add a layer of space around each workspace. The company has even launched a prototype of the design in its Amsterdam offices.
Bill Knightly, who works on the company’s coronavirus task force, says, “It comes down to some basic concepts, things like colored carpet or, in a less sophisticated or expensive application, taping off what six-feet workstations look like.” Another option is to provide additional safeguards on workstations such as plexiglass or some other form of barrier.
In addition to the physical barriers, the company’s 6 Feet Office plan includes a set of simple agreements, such as walking through the office in a certain direction to minimize face-to-face meetings and the daily replacement of desk pads.
Other Social Distancing Measures
Even though some companies are jumping on the remote workforce bandwagon, many aren’t. Research and advisory company Gartner conducted a poll in March, finding that just half of more than 50 service and support leaders had a majority of people working from home. Because many offices will continue operations, Gartner recommends several social distancing measures for on-site employees:
- Social Customs – Only authorized employees should be in the office, meaning no visitors or customers. Employees should be encouraged to greet each other without physical contact.
- Scheduling Shifts – Companies can reduce the number of people in the office at the same time by allowing flexible work hours or setting staggered shifts with time in between to sanitize workstations.
- Collaboration – Consider pooling and rotating tasks so that some employees can work remotely while others are in the office. Likewise, encourage more virtual meetings, such as over Zoom, instead of in-person ones.
According to Cushman & Wakefield, when and how we are able to return to work will be dictated by COVID-19. But the time for landlords and tenants to prepare for a different type of workplace environment is now.
Carolina Services Inc. (CSI) is Charleston’s premier commercial improvement, space planning, and construction company. Since 1976, we have been helping owners, investors, and office space managers with a variety of turnkey solutions. Contact our office to learn more about how we can help you build and run a better business.