Planning For A Post COVID-19 Office Design

As workplaces slowly reopen after the initial Coronavirus outbreak, many of us are looking forward to 'returning to normal'; except it's a 'new normal' that we will return to for the foreseeable future. To ensure that employees are safe in the workplace, businesses must put in place essential measures like social distancing, specialist screens, modified cleaning regimes and make changes to working times/locations.

Whilst making these COVID-19 office design changes will undoubtedly cause some upheaval, it's important to know that by incorporating the right alterations now, it'll be far more likely that everyone will be able to hit the ground running when they return to the workplace. This is a new normal that we will all have to get used to; implementing these changes will ultimately give the business the best opportunity to operate as close to pre-COVID as possible.

As vastly experienced office designers and builders, we at Oaktree Interiors have established a leading service that has helped many different types and sizes of businesses to better utilise their workplaces. With the post-COVID-19 world posing challenges to how all offices operate and are laid out, having a custom approach to your office design will be vital in ensuring it provides a safe working environment.

Here, we're going to outline the changes that need to be made; and how our team can help.

Required COVID-19 Office Design Modifications.

The government have set out specific guidelines for different businesses to ensure that they are able to work safely during COVID-19 (including office-specific measures). Before a business returns to work, they must carry out a risk assessment in line with the current HSE guidance. Moreover, they should consult workers about how their return to work will be made possible and the results (of the risk assessment) should be shared publicly (on their website, etc).

If the business cannot accommodate everyone (or deems it easier) they should select certain individuals and teams to work from home. It should also take reasonable steps to help people to work from home by discussing their working arrangements, ensuring they have the right equipment, include them in all necessary communications and look after their physical and mental well-being.

Before, during and after people set foot in the office, procedures for cleaning, hand washing and general hygiene should be set. The cleanliness of a post COVID-19 office design can be increased by encouraging people to follow guidelines, providing hand sanitiser, perform frequent cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces, and enhancing cleaning for busy areas. This includes all areas of the workplace – clear use and cleaning guidelines must also be provided for the toilets/washrooms (in which hand drying facilities must also be provided).

In the office, current social distancing guidelines must be observed where possible.This can be achieved by placing signs to inform everyone of the guidelines,avoid sharing desks, using floor tape or paint to mark areas for people to keep the right distance, arranging for a one-way traffic system throughout the workplace and seeing visitors by appointment only.

If social distancing at the current rate proves to be difficult, the business must do everything practical it can to manage the transmission risk. Firstly, it should consider whether certain activities need to continue for it to operate (and keeping the time spent doing them as brief as possible). If social distancing is impossible, screens and barriers should be used to separate people from one another; back-to-back or side-to-side working should be employed in a COVID-19 office design where possible. To prevent groups of people congregating, arrival and departure times should be staggered and the number of people that each person has contact with should be reduced by using a'partnering' or 'fixed teams' method.

As we're at the forefront of the office design industry here at Oaktree Interiors, we can provide all the help you need if the COVID-19 situation creates operational challenges for your business. We can advise you on how you can adjust the layout and facilities in your office so that as many of your employees can return to work as safely as possible.

Regardless if you require re-planning concepts, installation of acrylic desk-mounted screens or need suggestions on how extra space can be created to achieve social distancing, you can feel rest assured that our team can help.

All work we undertake is done so in strict accordance with official guidance from the government. Our health & safety specialists, site-based personnel and our supply-chain partners are diligently working together and complying with all the additional protection measures we have implemented.

Our management team is constantly monitoring the latest changes within the guidelines, enabling us to be able to respond as quickly as possible. Our mission, as always, remains to create the perfect office space to inspire and motivate; not even a global pandemic has altered this ethos.

If you would like to read our full statement on our COVID-19 strategy (as well as how we're ensuring that all our projects are run to government guidelines), click here.

Need To Learn More? Get In Touch With Our Bespoke Office Design Team.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help to plan for and provide the means for your workplace to operate safely for when your employees return to work, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our COVID-19 office design team today. You can call us on 0345 21 86955 or send an e-mail to hello@oaktreeoffice.com
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