The majority of office staff may be working from home (WFH) at the current time, especially with another national lockdown now in force across the UK, but it’s clear that physical office buildings remain important as space for colleagues to collaborate.
While workplaces need to be fully compliant with the latest guidelines to ensure staff feel safe, offices need to offer space which works for people to collaborate and socialise – something which WFH simply cannot replicate. The key is to create office spaces which people will want to return to once they’re able to.
Catering for social breaks
The need to provide refreshments is still important as is providing break areas where staff can socialise at a safe distance. But with restricted numbers of people able to use break areas in order to maintain effective social distancing in these spaces, it could be worthwhile creating additional break areas in different parts of the building – installing extra tea and coffee points for example, will reduce the number of people using the same facilities in the main kitchen areas. Another option is to create outside break areas like this space which we completed last year.
Break areas will naturally contain multiple touchpoints and are likely to be used by different staff during the day and so should be designed to be easy to keep clean. Solid surface Staron is 100 per cent non-porous which means that bacteria is unable to grow on it, is ideal for kitchen worktops while FENIX NTM laminate has enhanced antibacterial properties making it perfect for kitchen cupboard doors.
Keep your (social) distance
The guidance to keep two-metres apart remains in place as an effective way to limit the spread of the virus – so social distancing measures need to be kept in mind when adapting offices to be Covid-secure. Changing the layout of workstations so desks aren’t facing directly on to each other as well as introducing one-way systems, is a simple way to achieve this. But it may not always be possible to keep to the required distance and in which case, bespoke dividing partitions add a physical barrier to help reduce transmission of the virus between people.
Opting for clear Perspex screens in certain areas, such as for a reception desk for example, provides discrete protection while keeping the reception area as originally designed. Alternatively, by embracing colour, screen partitions can be used to add to the overall design, as well as being a practical addition to the space. These vibrant blue screens, which we manufactured and installed for a London office last summer, are a perfect example of this.
Whatever type of screen you opt for, the requirement is that they are kept clean so material specification is key – choose materials which are easy to clean and which will withstand regular and intensive cleaning.
Providing additional storage for personnel
One of the new guidelines is for workplaces to provide more storage for workers any personal items and coats to contain items brought in from outside the building in one area.
Our Qubewall storage system, which we manufacture completely bespoke, could be just the solution. It can be customised to suit clients’ exact specifications including a range of different configurations and layouts including secure individual lockers and is designed to be as stylish as practical so there is no need to compromise.
Now, wash your hands
It’s vital to encourage office workers to wash their hands regularly during the day and practice good hand hygiene in order to limit the spread of Covid-19. Installing additional hand-washing stations throughout the office and making sure that washroom areas are safe and easily accessible goes a long way to keeping workplaces Covid-secure. Our partner company, Washroom Washroom, can guide clients through creating office washrooms to suit any specification.