Companies all over the nation are coming back to work, and yours may be one of them. Even as we return to some semblance of normal operation, safety in the midst of a pandemic is still crucial and pandemic protocols could well be in place for a long time. Social distancing and the new ways of working that have developed may become the norm.
No matter what your office looks like post-COVID, your common areas are important because they often serve more than one purpose — and because they bring a sense of collaboration and camaraderie to the workplace. A few simple design choices can help make these spaces safer and add even more flexibility and function.
In the past, conference rooms have been limited in their function because they often consist of massive tables in narrow rooms, which also makes them some of the most difficult spaces for social distancing. These days, when smaller teams use conference rooms or individual employees utilize them for privacy or peace and quiet — not to mention the occasional birthday party or holiday celebration — a more functional conference room can also mean a safer space.
Opting for more small tables gives your teams flexibility for meetings of various sizes as well as proper distancing. A one-way flow with sequential seating can also cut down on traffic before and after meetings. Plexiglass dividers also increase peace of mind and safety by creating barriers that allow employees to see and hear through while they shield themselves from the spread of germs. Making allowances for Zoom meetings also gives you an excuse to upgrade your conference room’s technology.
You know how important training is to your organization, so why not design your training spaces to reflect that value? Eliminate all seating and tables that don’t allow for social distancing by opting for smaller pods of tables or conversation areas where people can collaborate comfortably yet still be distanced. This is another area where plexiglass dividers, one-way flow, and sequential seating can help. Hand sanitizing stations in all training spaces will give your team members additional peace of mind.
You can generate excitement and increase safety by moving training to a more open space like an open-ended corner. Casual, comfortable furnishings can turn a staid training area into a relaxed and inviting space — not just for training, but for other events as well, which gives you more flexibility.
Break Rooms and Lounges
Nothing brings people together like food, and your break room can be a prime place for conversation and camaraderie while remaining safe and providing peace of mind. When it comes to break rooms or café’s, the obvious safety solutions come to mind: spreading out tables and chairs for social distancing, sanitizing vending machines often, or choosing touchless models for vending.
Because the break room or lounge can also be a hub for parties and celebrations, it’s important to discourage shared food — and to overcommunicate that rule. If you provide food, make sure it’s single-portion and prepackaged, and birthday cakes should be pre-sliced or cupcakes to avoid employees touching each others’ pieces of cake. Times like these are also a terrific opportunity to take advantage of outdoor dining options for good weather days.
Open Office Layouts
You love your open office space for the community and collaboration, but employees also need a measure of privacy for safety’s sake. Spreading your open office area out to account for social distancing and traffic flow can help maintain a safer space, especially when you eliminate any furniture that can’t accommodate distancing. Plexiglass dividers in your open office area can provide both privacy and protection.
Since they can’t move around as freely in an open office as they could in the past, employees now need proximity to their technology more than they need proximity to people. For face-to-face contact, conversation pods provide comfortable and semi-private, yet socially distanced, spaces for short meetings and interactions between two or three employees.
Reception and Lobby Areas
You want to put your best foot forward when it comes to your lobby or reception area, which turns them into, especially tricky spaces for safety. Protecting your employees and clients means walking a fine line between good first impressions and health protocols.
Eliminating anything that doesn’t allow for distancing is a good start, including spacing out chairs and end tables.
Shields and dividers can provide an extra measure of protection for reception employees. Opportunities for handwashing and sanitizing can also give both customers and employees a sense of ease about their surroundings. Get rid of items that multiple people can touch between cleanings, like magazines or self-serve coffee.
You don’t have to be a professional designer to devise an office space that combines safety, comfort, and function. CORT Furniture Rental gives you a host of options and creative inspiration for an office that ensures the safety and looks fresh and modern.
CORT is your subscription service for furnishings and decor that takes delivery, assembly, and pickup off your shoulders. Take the first step to a safer and more flexible office space by calling CORT or checking out our website today.