Social distancing is at the heart of preventing the spread of COVID-19, and workplaces across the UK are making essential plans to adopt safer working environments for employees in anticipation of a return to work strategy.
From awareness and recognition of the ongoing investigations and scientific advice, we now understand our workspaces need to evolve and adapt to accommodate flexible working environments and protective furniture and equipment. Our blog discusses our thoughts on home office working and how to adapt your current office design and layouts during the worldwide Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Working from Home (WFH) – the right way
At the height of the pandemic, homeworking has become the Government’s work method of choice. WFH has ensured many of us, where possible have been able to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, thus ensuring we are doing all we can to help minimise the strain on our dedicated NHS.
Alongside the latest announcements, we anticipate WFH and digital communication are not going to be just a short-term feature for some businesses, so as employers, with a duty of care there are some guiding principles we can review to help maintain productivity and ensure employees are fully supported with the practical challenges they now face.
For those that are new to the experience of working from home, it is important to take effective steps to ensure your team has an appropriate place to work and to make sure they are sitting comfortably.
Where possible, home set-ups should replicate the office structure. A workstation or table is an ideal base for home working, and to avoid long-term back or neck complaints, it is important you provide appropriate seating to avoid bad postural problems.
The design of an effective home office space needs to balance comfort and aesthetics. Our team of interior space designers can help with solutions to maximise the space available, designed to suit the décor of the home, whether that is modern, contemporary, or traditional, and delivered directly to any UK home address.
The Way Forward – The New Office
As things slowly progress and the economy starts an upturn, we anticipate a mix of flexible agile working, where employees split their time between the office and home in staggered working hours/days in a carefully phased approach.
But how do we adapt current workspaces to accommodate essential protective measures?
Before employees return to work, consider whether your work environment provides allowances to social distance. A risk assessment will highlight key areas that require adaptation or a redesign.
Until now, desk sharing was on the increase, however as this concept of hot-desking replaces the tradition of sitting at your own personal desk space, this is not something we will be recommending to our clients in light of the pandemic and as we have learnt the virus does not discriminate and no one is unsusceptible.
By making social distancing easy in the workplace and providing personal working spaces, you will be able to better promote physical wellbeing within your team. But as we all try and embrace the 2000mm distance regulation outside and inside the workplace, businesses do not always have the space to accommodate these requirements and in these situations, we would recommend workstation barrier screens.
Some additional things to consider when looking at your office redesign may include:
- Will you be able to introduce a one-way system in your office to avoid people crossing on the stairs?
- Will you need to introduce sanitising or protective solutions into lifts, elevators, toilets, and communal areas?
- Can you prop open doors to prevent the use of door handles?
- Does your current reception space offer protective screen shielding to safeguard your employees and visitors?
Here at Combined Office Interiors, we are working hard helping clients with space redesign plans and incorporating different working styles, that all combine essential protection solutions.
We are here to help
As a team of design, CAD and space planning specialists, we can provide a complete workspace redesign that allows you to visualise precisely how your existing office can look and how it will function as you adopt essential changes to your business. We can incorporate existing furniture, make suggestions for additional requirements and source protective equipment to suit your business and workforce.
To help prevent the harmful transmission of this virus, we have partnered with leading manufacturers and suppliers to offer a complete range of protection screens and equipment that will help keep positive visual interaction, whilst forming an essential barrier when talking, coughing, or sneezing.
Acrylic & Vinyl Workstation Screens
Our flexible workstation screens negate the need to respace plans, as they simply sit on top of the current desk space.
With clear transparency, the acrylic screens are great for offices that do not require too much privacy, ensuring important visual contact can still be made. These screens are easy to clean and are provided with a hinged closed corner detail to offer maximum user protection.
Our one-piece desktop vinyl screens can be easily mounted onto workstations. With a vinyl covering, these screens offer antibacterial and anti-fungal properties which makes them a great hygienic solution that is also easy to clean.
Freestanding Floor Screens
Freestanding protection guards are available in a variety of sizes and heights. Often referred to as a ‘sneeze screen,’ clear acrylic screens are perfectly placed in retail outlets or between machinery workers or waiting areas.
Counter Screens and Panels
We are also able to provide acrylic countertop screen panels as a cost-effective solution for high footfall areas. Our self-supporting versatile protective panels include a small window to allow the handing over of products, paperwork or to allow access to payment machines.
In addition to our standard stock range of screens, we can provide temperature testing screens, folding screens, hygiene noticeboards, sanitising stations, and queue management signs.
Making Storage Simple
To help provide personal space and promote office hygiene, consideration to storage should be given. Locker banks can be used to store employee personal belongings, this can include coats, bags and even their keyboard and mouse as this will help keep them protected while not in use. By providing each employee with a personal locker or storage facility, it will help eliminate shared handles and doors, and help minimise the risk of COVID-19 within the work environment.
Locker banks and storage units can be used to create aisles within the office, and direct footfall away from desk areas and create a safe distance between employees.
Many businesses have already swapped the boardroom for the living room and embraced digital meetings via online meeting apps including Zoom and Teams, and with no one knowing when it will be acceptable to host future ‘face to face’ meetings and events post COVID-19 we would encourage your workforce to continue these methods (where and when possible) until government restrictions are relaxed.
Keep the Office Clean
As more people return to work, you should adopt a strict cleaning checklist and regime for work and public spaces. A good thought-out process with appropriate cleaning tools and PPE equipment readily available will help improve employee trust and wellbeing in the workplace.
All though it is not crystal clear what a post-covid work environment will look like, what is clear is that employee wellness is a priority. If you would like more information on our space planning services, our office furniture and protective screen range, or would like a personal quotation please get in touch Tel: 01480 869001, Email: email@example.com.
This blog is our own thoughts. Please refer to all Government guidance when making decisions regarding your workspace requirements and solutions.
Last Updated on May 11, 2023