Our return to the office will see new ways of working, our ‘new normal’ if you will, that we are all going to have to take note of, adhere to, and govern. The five main areas we will need to consider in the phased approach to the workplace return:

  1. Identify the number of employees vs the number of desk space available
  2. Plan an appropriate desk seating chart for physical distancing
  3. Create healthy workspaces with an office cleaning plan
  4. Effective communication and signage on COVID-19 workplace best practices
  5. Introduce desk booking solutions to accommodate employees coming in and out of the office.

Identify numbers: number of employees vs the number of desk space available

Guidelines as they stand, require 6-feet or 2-meter distancing, but how do you start planning a seating area that is based on your area and capacity with local guidelines still in place.

The first step will be to work with your Human Resources or office managers and identity exact headcounts, as well as which of these employees are remote-based or were office-bound prior to this; as well as those on flexi-time contracts.

The next step will be to accurately identify desk capacity in your office location. Have more than one location available to employees? Take this all in to account.

Once these numbers are identified, your next question will then be on with the desk to person distancing, how many employees can you safely accommodate on a given day in your office?

The next step will then be to plan an appropriate desk floorplan.

Plan an appropriate desk floorplan for physical distancing

Interaction post-coronavirus and the return to the office will need adjusting accordingly, and an appropriate desk floorplan could aid in physical distancing measures as we all ask ourselves:

  • How much more space between desks needed?
  • What is the quantity of people the office space can physically accommodate on a given day?
  • Are there technology tools that can aid in making sure desk space is available and ready for employees?

These questions asked now and the planning, done now, through a desk booking solution assists in employee ratios, safely helping the return to work.

The benefits of a desk booking solution:

  • Reduce the density of desk layouts to support social distancing
  • Limit office capacity
  • Schedule sanitization after desks are used
  • Record workspace usage to enable contact tracing
  • Give employees flexibility in when and where they work
  • Mobile connectivity for simple and up-to-date desk management

Create healthy workspaces with an office cleaning plan

It is vital that employees feel secure on their return to the office and that employees do all they can to make sure the office is safe. This is why optimal hygiene measures and practices are in place for their return to continually reduce the risks of the spread of infections and viruses.

Points to consider:

  • Keep a good supply of disinfecting wipes as well as hand sanitizers. Important to remember too is to make sure employees know how to use them effectively. What your teams might also really appreciate it some unscented lotions available to them too, to help with all that hand washing being done.
  • Place a great focus on the professional cleaning services your office implements, as well as the disinfecting measures in the office that will reduce the risk of infection and bacteria.
  • Touch reducing amenities will need to be looked at, and how these can be reduced as much as possible. These include things like double-swinging push doors, shared utensils, and other kitchenware, manual lightening and heating appliances.
  • Desk areas will have to be carefully considered: as to how all teams that use these areas be made aware of how to keep the areas clean, what particulars of the area, the equipment, the surface, and the overall workstation itself, and possible implications if these areas are not kept clean. Consider how a desk management with cleaning workflows could help you manage the sanitization of desk spaces.
  • Remove free-addressing in the office, where employees can turn up and find a desk to work. Enforce space booking so that all employees have to find and reserve a workstation before they travel to the office for the day, which ensures there’s a clean and safe area for them to work in.

Effective communication and signage on COVID-19 workplace best practices

Consistent communication with employees will be a key factor in outlining best practices and assistance as they start to return to the office. Supporting and reassuring your teams as they all experience varying emotions or personal challenges during this time will allow for more effective collaboration beneficial productivity levels.

Points to consider:

  • Provide updates that are clear, to the point, and worded in accordance with all relevant office locations, and regional workplace cultures in mind.
  • Two-way communication is paramount, so offer channels that support this, which employees can use to reach out with any concerns they may have.
  • Appropriate signage in carefully placed locations in the workplace can aid in safety reminders on social distancing, good respiratory hygiene, symptom checks, and deskspace cleaning recommendations.

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