Is your workspace ‘back to work’ ready?
There is a buzz of excitement as organisations prepare for the physical return to work following the Government’s latest roadmap to cautiously ease the COVID pandemic lockdown 3.0.
At COI, we are here to support you in getting your workspace ‘back to work’ ready with off-the-shelf ready to use products and tailor-made control solutions that assist with safe and hygienic social distancing to safeguard your team and ensure they feel protected and comfortable in their post-pandemic work environment.
Safely getting back to work
Throughout the last year, we have worked closely with businesses and organisations across the UK to successfully adjust to flexible remote and hybrid working, evolving workspaces to accommodate a safe and healthy socially distanced environment. But as the lockdown is eased, a return to the office is inducing different reactions from employees with some feeling nervous, anxious, and even stressed, but conversely, others are longing to be back in a more sociable culture of working.
Planning how to best manage office utilisation can be a challenging task. Businesses are required to provide employees with a safe return to the workplace, with employers being urged to address key risks, review short-term and long-term solutions, and invest in solutions that provide employees with privacy-defined workspaces that will inspire trust, flexibility and confidence.
Redesigning your workspace
With the pandemic redefining physical distancing, work environments including offices will need to be compliant to facilitate team interaction while safeguarding workers.
If your workspace lacks the facility to house all of your hybrid, remote, or on-site employees with suitable distancing, you could consider flexible working arrangements including a phased return, staggering hours, and allowing for shift patterns to accommodate the need for employee collaboration, interaction, and meetings.
When looking at the design of your workspace, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Organisations will need to look at adjusting the existing footprint incrementally, looking at where space will be needed, and supporting interaction that cannot happen remotely.
Designing a post-pandemic workspace can be a challenging task. COI can help support you in reimagining your working environment, with detailed space planning and design incorporating your existing furniture and include any suggestions on essential furniture and equipment to help reduce person-to-person virus transmission.
Our experienced approach also considers:
- Review and reduce density strategies
- Communal areas
- Meeting, conference, and boardroom facilities including video conferencing spaces
- Visual signage and equipment
Physical distancing – Furniture arrangement must provide sufficient distancing (guide 6ft/2m).
Movement – Your team must be able to move through the workspace whilst maintaining physical distancing, this can include additional shielding, one-way movement flows, and directional signage.
The workplace is normally the heart and soul of any business. It conveys the professional culture of the organisation and supports its occupants to be productive.
But what can we expect from a post-COVID office? After months of working apart, most companies have adapted to new ways of working remotely; however, employees are counting on their employers to help them get back to work safely in an environment where they can socialise and collaborate with the rest of the team.
From a business perspective, safeguarding employees’ wellbeing will be one of the main priorities to ensure business after lockdown is successful. Shared workspaces will need to support socially distancing measures and cleaning protocols to create a safer workspace and trust within the team.
Divisional Hygienic Screens – Adding screens and panels to desks, counters and walkways can be a cost-effective method to ensure boundaries are in place to safeguard face-to-face interactions between people.
We have a range of adaptive protection screens that are flexible and create a safe environment for privacy and communication. Available in a range of materials including acrylic, Perspex, vinyl, and other hygienic textiles in a variety of widths and heights, with and without openings, our screen range is an adaptable solution for workspaces.
These styles of screens are easy to assemble, easy to clean and offer extra protection and peace of mind in the prevention of virus transmission.
Booths and Pods – Creating workspaces that are conducive to movement will help limit the compromise to physical and mental health.
With the repositioning of employees at work due to Coronavirus guidelines, individual pods suitably spaced out are a fitting alternative to the traditional open-plan workstations and desk set-up.
Office pods and booths offer a quiet place for meetings, making phone calls, hosting video calls, and for work that requires concentration. With many office pods and booths offering great acoustic properties, they generally can make offices a happier and more productive place to work, which are all qualities that will be important as businesses decide how employees can return to the workplace safely during and after the pandemic.
Collaboration tables – give teams a place to brainstorm and helps to encourage communication in shared spaces. They are a central hub for meetings, networking, collaborating, or socialising that generate a feeling of camaraderie and connection, whilst providing vital space for your team to adhere to social distance protocols.
Collaboration tables are available in a variety of heights, lengths, widths and finishes with accessories including power and data, media screens, canopies, and modesty panels.
Making Storage Simple – To help provide personal space and promote office hygiene, consideration for storage should be given. Locker banks can be used to store employees’ 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.
Outdoor Furniture – by providing outdoor furniture you can enhance your collaboration and social zones whilst utilising extra outside workspace. Find out more about our outside furniture range.
Functional and creative outdoor workspaces can heighten enthusiasm and productivity and can be a great solution to enable effective social distancing throughout the warmer months.
Hygienic Materials – When making any new purchases, we would recommend you choose materials and finishes that can be easily cleaned to maintain good hygiene. There is a vast range of fabrics available with anti-microbial properties, or alternative materials that can be cleaned with bleach-type solutions without affecting the colour, finish or quality.
Example material overview:
Camira Fabric, TriOnyk treatment – is an anti-microbial treatment for fabric and vinyl ranges with flatweaves which are tight, easy to scrub, and treated with a permanent germ-free solution.
The Halycyon Collection, Intervene, Manila and Vita – are all anti-microbial, bleach-cleanable, waterproof, and flame retardant to higher-level crib 5 Medium Hazard Standard. These hard-wearing performance fabrics are suitable for the most demanding public spaces including doctors’ surgeries, medical waiting areas, canteens and nursing homes. These fabrics are powered and treated with TriOnyk.
Transition – from agile working to fixed positions.
Until now, desk sharing was on the increase however, the concept of hot-desking is not recommended post-pandemic within workspaces to ensure the safety of your team.
Here are just some of the products and ranges we can offer as part of our workspace solutions:
- Protection Screens (desktop, counter, and floor-standing)
- Acoustic screens and room dividers
- Antibacterial/antimicrobial finishes
- Pods, booths & multimedia stations
- Personal storage including lockers
- Sanitising stations
- Testing, vaccination and temperature-checking booths
- Floor decals and signage
- Working from home furniture (WFH)
- Educational furniture and equipment
- Collaboration tables
- A full range of desking, benching and height-adjustable workstation solutions
- Ergonomic seating
Our team of delivery and installation fitters can also assist with the reconfiguration of your new layouts safely and quickly.
We have taken the following steps to ensure the safety and protection of our own team, our clients, and the community:
- Each member of the COI team has been provided with their own PPE including masks and gloves.
- All fitters are working in bubbles to ensure the safety of our clients and team.
- We provide and perform lateral COVID testing, a minimum of twice a week.
- All the furniture delivered to site is wiped down and cleaned upon installation.
- We encourage our team to regularly wipe down high-touch areas including handrails, vehicle handles, and steering wheels.
- Handwashing provisions/sanitisers have been provided on each van for when our fitters are onsite or when hand-washing facilities are not available.
- Return to work checklist!
To ensure a successful return to the workplace, here is a sample checklist to help create a clear plan for your business or organisation to welcome back the team:
- Full risk assessments to be completed.
- Return to work policy and current guidelines to be published and communicated with your team
- Thorough cleaning of all areas with ongoing cleaning expectations and rotas defined.
- Clear indicators of directional walkways, enabling clear routes and a safe flow around the office.
- Provide clearly signed sanitising stations or handwashing facilities.
- Ensure relevant PPE is available.
- Introduce a clear desk policy.
- Training within your team where required to ensure safety.
- Reorganise, remove, or invest in extra furniture and equipment including non-share storage solutions and hygiene screens.
- Minimise shared spaces including hot desks.
- Clear instructional safety signage throughout the organisation for employees and visitors.
- Review ventilation and filtration systems.
Please note, this list is intended to be useful in the basic guidance for the safe return to work for employees. Further details can be found at www.gov.uk.
COI has the expertise to provide informed advice and space design services, alongside well-designed furniture to assist your organisation in formulating a safe “return to work” strategy.
We can help facilitate collaboration and hygiene protection that ensures your workforce stays safe, healthy, and productive. Get in touch to discuss your organisation’s requirements, request a space survey or tailored quotation. Contact us.
Return to work gallery
Last Updated on May 17, 2023