Five ways to make your office space Covid-secure

The pace of change for our work environments has been swift due to the pandemic. But despite continuing encouragement to work from home, keep in mind that these are temporary measures – it’s very likely you will be looking to bring more people back to the office soon, and you’ll want to do that safely.

Indeed, new research by the British Council for Offices revealed there is real appetite for workers to return to the office. It also highlighted that workers are looking for a more flexible style of working.

So, what does this mean for the office of the future?

And how can you ensure a safe return for your team?

Here are our five key recommendations for ways to make your office space Covid-secure:

1. Deep clean the workplace

In addition to stepping up cleaning contracts, the work environment will need to be cleaned throughout the day. Cleaning stations near desks will encourage good practice. Door handles and light switches are also typical touch points that will need regularly cleaning. Sanitising stations should be featured throughout the office, especially near regularly used surfaces and by entrances and exits. Workers should be encouraged to keep surfaces relatively clear so they can be easily wiped down after use.

2. Clear, one-way systems around the office

Offices can be a hive of activity with people coming from all directions. Though nobody wants to stop the buzzy atmosphere, safety is paramount. One-way systems are proving a popular way to prevent workers coming into contact. Understanding the flow of activity within the building is important, as is considering any workers with mobility issues and the implications changing the flow of human traffic may have for them. Make a considered floorplan before implementing the changes and test it to ensure it will work as numbers of workers returning increases. This is particularly important for heritage buildings that often have narrow and intricate corridors.

Don’t forget lifts. If a 2m distance can’t be achieved, then only one person should use the lift at a time. Ensure the stairs have a one-way system in place if that is the case to minimise workers coming into contact for too long.

3. Multi-purpose, flexible workspaces

The open plan office was already a bit of a waning trend before the pandemic and even more so now. Long banks of desk space seating multiple workers may be unsuitable. Halve the number of users so they are not in close contact and consider new furniture packages that are multipurpose. There is an abundance of furniture available that can be easily moved or folded away when not needed, allowing for your space to meet your needs at the time.

If you have an open plan office, it may be possible to incorporate internal bi-fold doors to create smaller, contained spaces when needed.

4. Creating an air flow through the office

Current air conditioning and heating systems may not be appropriate for use right now. Getting the right sort of ventilation in offices has always been a thorny issue. To create a healthier environment, use a mechanical ventilation heat recovery system (MVHR). This permanent installation provides constant filtered fresh air.

To assist with the air flow, all doors (apart from fire doors) should be propped open. This will also reduce the need for door handles to be repeatedly touched, helping to minimise contamination.

5. Welcoming staff back to the office

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a difficult year. Create a welcoming space for your staff to return to and for any new employees recruited during the pandemic. Incorporate your branding or have a brand refresh and integrate it into the design of your workspace. Use this opportunity to purchase furniture that is functional and fits your brand.

Bring the outdoors in. Embracing biophilic design principles such as plants, water features, artwork and photography of nature can help workers feel calmer and create a pleasant working environment.

With multiple changes needed to make office space safe, there is no better time to do a refurb. Take advantage of quiet or relatively empty spaces and transform them in time for the return of your staff.

Contact us today for a no-obligation chat about making your office space Covid-secure. Sorrel Group is a specialist in the refurbishment and fit out of heritage and iconic buildings. Let us help you create a statement office fit for the future.