To prepare their offices for the return of the workforce, office operators are working round the clock to get their spaces not only fully COVID compliant, but to ensure their members feel safe and happy in the environment they are working in. Most providers are adopting the motto that “when you are in our building your health is our responsibility” and are implementing extra safety measures that go above and beyond the government guidelines.
If you are in a leased space and need inspiration to prepare for the return of your staff, please read our blog post on reintroducing staff to the office here. As for the space beyond your own four walls, such as the common areas, this will be the responsibility of your landlord or building manager, so you should ask them about their plans...
It may be tricky to social distance on the way to work but once at the workplace, office providers will be doing everything they can to keep you safe.
Here are some of the provisions that have been put in place:
Improve air quality in buildings through better ventilation
Where possible, buildings have upgraded their ventilation systems to increase the flow of fresh air into the building. This pumps clean air from outside into the building and purifies it rather than circulating recycling old air. If your building has not been able to upgrade their air systems we would recommend leaving the windows open as much as possible.
Allow for more space for members to self-distance
A lot of hot-desking areas will be closed to new memberships to allow more space for members to socially distance. Once you come in for the day, you will likely be encouraged to stick to the same desk for the full day. Empty offices may be offered to members so that teams can spread out beyond their offices.
In addition, some providers are considering using larger desks and having fewer desks per office. You can easily add partitions to create segmented offices within your space and upon request, can also add partitions to prevent person-to-person contamination.
Increased sanitation & cleaning
Across all buildings, there will be a large increase in the number of sanitation facilities. More hand washing stations, hand sanitisers, wipes and alcohol sprays will also be available throughout the building. There will be more frequent cleaning across all buildings, but especially for high touch points such as kitchens, bathrooms, handles, taps, coffee machines, lift buttons and printers. You will also be provided access to sanitation supplies in most spaces. Extra cleaning of individual offices can be requested.
Meeting rooms and phone booths
There will be reduced capacity within meeting rooms to ensure a safe distance is being kept within capacity guidelines and recommended seating arrangements will be displayed on tables and signage. Try to keep enclosed meetings to a minimum and don’t all huddle around one laptop, best practice is for each participant to dial in from their own computer or why not take your meeting out into the fresh air with a walking meeting to reduce the risk further? It was an old favourite of Steve Jobs and appears to get the creative juices flowing.
Where phone booths are available, there will be time limits on how long you will be able to use them for and once you leave, you will have to notify a member of staff so they can deep clean the space for the next user. In some buildings, phone booths will not be available until further notice.
Some providers are mapping out a one-way circulation system to control and minimise physical interaction. There will be signage to direct flow and to indicate where to stand when waiting for reception or a lift. Lifts will have reduced capacity so social distancing can be observed. Additionally, stairs may also be used to flow the traffic around the building. The furniture in common areas will be more spaced out so to socially distance there too.
For the kitchen, we’ve heard a variety of solutions and they appear still to be evolving. Some providers will focus on providing catered food, in single-use, individual packaging, to avoid anyone having to leave the office during the day, while others might encourage their members to use the kitchen less and avoid peak hours. As for the snacking, some might remove them completely or try to implement a more COVID compliant solution, such as individual packaging. There will likely be single-use cutlery available - of course sustainably sourced. All of this is still work in progress and we look forward to some creative solutions.
As with the general COVID outbreak, we expect a lot of these things to evolve and improve as we continue to learn. We believe serviced office providers might be leveraging technology to improve the workplace, such as contactless technology to use on the lift, coffee machines. Also, contactless / mobile opening and closing of doors.
Some buildings are thinking to add COVID specific facilities to their workplace, such as temperature tracking on reception, actively monitoring any symptoms around the space and potentially testing for those with the virus, but without any symptoms.
If you would like to discuss the above with one of the Kontor team then please feel free to reach out. We will be able to run through your current situation and advise the best next steps for you to take.