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Retrofitting Your Workplace to Promote Wellness and Follow Pandemic Guidelines
Matthew Brosius

Retrofitting Your Workplace to Promote Wellness and Follow Pandemic Guidelines

Does protecting employees mean a return to Mad Men-style offices or long rows of cavernous cubicles per the 1990s? 2020 has been a monumental year of change for people across to the world due to the COVID19 pandemic, and the modern office space is feeling those effects

In this article, you will learn how to retrofit your office economically, eliminate touchpoints on elevators and other commonly touched surfaces, and make changes to the way your employees work to discourage transmission of COVID19. 

How to Social Distance in an Open Plan Office

Retrofitting offices for social distancing can quickly become expensive. In line with CDC recommendations, what can employers do to create a safe work environment?

Many employees wonder if COVID-19 may trigger the demise of the open office plan. However, savvy office managers can adopt policies and procedures that protect employees from the novel coronavirus and other germs without spending a fortune.

Your office makeover might include plexiglass, glass, or Lexan barriers mounted on desks to block sneezes and coughs between workers. Other innovations to comply with pandemic guidelines include built-in hand-sanitizers at every work station. Desks positioned at 90-degree angles for maximum separation or with cleanable partitions could also deter the spread of germs and viruses.

Air filters that push air down can decrease the aerosolization of the coronavirus, while windows that open provide natural airflow to help reduce germs and viruses on surfaces and in the air you breathe.

Dividing Up Shared Workspaces

Returning to work after the pandemic almost certainly means changing the way you position workstations and protect employees from germs. For example, introducing physical barriers can transform open-concept designs into safer, properly-distanced individual workspaces. This includes partitions that divide up a large room, perhaps by department or functional unit. 

Choosing the right partition means the difference between creating a closed-in, confining feeling or a vibrant workspace. Transparent and translucent panels allow light to flow freely, maintaining an open-air feel without compromising the health of those shielded behind them.

What about long banks of shared desks? Besides divvying up the open work area, you can add physical dividers to shared desks. If dollar signs are running through your mind and stressing you out, take it easy. You can often retrofit existing stations by rearranging them to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

Healthy Additions to Post COVID-19 Offices

For the past two decades, offices have been shifting toward open workspaces with smaller individual desktops to fit as many people as possible. Companies are now scrambling to figure out how to bring workers back to the office while protecting their health. 

The changes under consideration include better air filtration that pushes air down, one-way foot traffic that limits person-to-person contact and antimicrobial materials for new construction. Even the way we communicate is changing, with video conferences taking place in individual offices to avoid congregating in the conference room.

Touchless controls already exist to avoid germs in the restroom, including motion sensor faucets, hand towel dispensers and soap dispensers. Next on the list, elevators may begin to operate with no-touch controls. 

Additionally, outdoor gathering spaces in warmer weather can provide a safe alternative to huddling in an office or meeting room. 

Simple Changes to Any Office That Reduce Spread of Germs

In the past, you may have had a chaotic work environment, with people moving freely from one desk to another to collaborate and exchange ideas. Look for the office of the future to become more constrained. For rooms with more than one door, designating a clear entrance and exit creates a natural flow of one-way traffic. This reduces personal contact as people will no longer pass by one another in hallways and corridors. 

The office plan of the future will hinge on the need to maintain six feet of safe social distancing. Visual signs to help encourage this behavior include circles embedded in the carpeting surrounding each personal workspace. 

You can also use arrows painted on the floor or carpeting to show the correct direction of traffic, clockwise or counterclockwise, around the office. This one-way traffic mimics that of healthcare workers attempting to prevent the spread of pathogens in hospitals and medical centers. If possible, use this same strategy in hallways to reduce personal contact. 

How to Move Forward

In order to stay safe and productive, we will all have to accept new rules and return to work with a cooperative attitude. With the right planning, office managers can make it easier for everyone.

For help ensuring that your business is ready for anything, contact Connecting Elements today. We have offices in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

 

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