This year has really put a cramp in our plans, and social distancing hasn’t made it any easier especially as we plan for social distancing at work. Luckily, this is one aspect we can hep with. And we’re proud to say these are solutions we’ve had in the bag for a while so we know they work. No ‘navigating new terrain’ here – just proven solutions. Don’t you feel better already?
Social Distancing Tips for Rearranging the Office
When you’re thinking about rearranging the office to allow for social distancing, you’ll need to keep in mind that those in your office should maintain at least 6 feet of distance from each other, just like they would in other social situations. The CDC and OSHA both recommend this measure as an effective way to reduce the risk of exposure and prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses like COVID-19 and the coronavirus.
In an ideal world, upgrading to a larger office would be a breeze and all of your workspace problems would be solved in an instant. However, we know that’s not an option for most offices, and regardless of physical size and number of personnel, the following tips will help in planning your new office layout while keeping social distancing in mind.
- Map out your current office space.
This first step may seem unnecessary, but it will lay the groundwork for the future. As you’re mapping out your current space, be thorough. Account for locations and sizes of desk and workspaces, and notate where doors, windows and hallways come into play.
As you work through this step, you’ll be able to identify high-traffic areas. Keep in mind that some areas will always be high-traffic, such as paths to the coffee station, while other high-traffic areas are due to the current layout and may change with an alternate design.
When mapping out your current space, we recommend using an online tool like SmartDraw. It’s great for estimating the amount of space an individual workstation needs, and individual pieces like desks and partitions are easy to move around later when you get to your redesign.
- Plan for 6 feet of distance around every workstation.
Whether you’re using an online tool or an app, or doing it old school with pencil and paper, you’ll want to create a bubble that is 6 feet in diameter around every workstation. Start by doing this for the current layout, and then move each workstation piece so that it effectively uses the allotted space.
- Not enough space for everyone?
If your office doesn’t have enough space to keep everyone socially distanced as they carry out their daily activities, and moving staff to another area is not an option, consider transparent partitions between spaces. They will provide a barrier against germs, but they still allow for interactions between co-workers.
- Solutions for high-traffic areas.
Even after you’ve rearranged the layout to create a new, socially distanced office, high-traffic areas will still exist. For workstations that border common areas, such as paths to the breakroom and restroom, think about installing additional partitions to keep staff protected. These could be free-standing transparent partitions, desk-mounted partitions or something different that signifies a physical barrier, such as a row of plants or a free-standing bookshelf.
If additional high-traffic areas were created with the new layout, you may want to consider office signs that indicate one-way foot traffic to minimize the spread of germs.
- Keeping the distance in conference rooms.
Conference rooms may prove tricky, as oftentimes these rooms are small and closed off from others. If it’s possible, we suggest holding conferences online, even if staff are in the same building. If absolutely necessary, hold in-person conferences with minimal staff, or install transparent partitions for each seat at the table. Consider adding an office sign that shows the maximum number of people allowed inside the conference room at any time to keep it top of mind.
- Pro tips and more.
There are several additional measures you can take to keep staff socially distanced and protected from the threat of germs. Remove seating (some or all) from areas where people congregate, such as breakrooms and waiting areas, or place signs on seating to signify which are available, or not available, for use. Create office signs that designate specific areas and persons allowed per area, as well as signs to highlight best practices for social distancing.
Remember, social distancing protects more than just the staff in the office — it also protects their families, friends and loved ones. Following these tips will help you design an office layout that will minimize the spread of germs and the associated risks, making your new space a safe place for everyone to work.