Covid Return to Office Planning (C.R.O.P)

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COVID-19 Office Space Planning Service

COVID-19 Office Space Planning Service

A comprehensive COVID-19 office space planning service from the experts at Interaction

Businesses must now make COVID-19 office space planning a priority. COVID-19 office risk assessments are now a legal requirement. We must do our best to bring our employees back to the office in a phased manner while ensuring their physical safety and psychological wellbeing.

It's why we have created a new highly-specialised COVID-19 office space planning service. It's data-led, based on psychology and the latest government guidance. And it comes with all our usual analysis, design, and project management expertise.

What are the benefits of a thorough COVID-19 Return to Office Planning?

What are the benefits of a thorough COVID-19 Return to Office Planning?

  • Ensure employee safety and reduce anxiety
  • Support individuals fairly
  • Boost morale and motivation
  • Achieve business continuity
  • Return to optimum capacity as soon as possible
  • Achieve cost savings

We have created a comprehensive guide with the latest government advice to help you plan a return to your office during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, taking the following 3 important factors into consideration:

  • Responsibility to limit the spread of the virus
  • Safety to you and your employees
  • Confidence that your business can function productively

Act responsibly as an employer to limit the spread of COVID-19

Act responsibly as an employer to limit the spread of COVID-19

On 11 May 2020, the UK Government published official guidance, in conjunction with the HSE, to help employers get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely. The five steps are key to meeting these requirements and should be implemented as soon as it is practical. These are:

  1. Work from home, if you can
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforcing cleaning processes. Once you have implemented these, make sure you communicate this with your employees and clients, for example via your website.

Employers have a legal responsibility to assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 and protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. The current guidance is still that staff should work from home if possible. Businesses have a duty of care for our employees when they are working, wherever that may be. That means they need to be monitoring the health and wellbeing of people working from home at the same time as planning for their return to the workplace. Developing clear policies, in consultation with your employees, will go a long way to reassure them that they are in safe, responsible hands.

Return to the office safely during COVID-19

Return to the office safely during COVID-19

Returning to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t need to be complicated. But you do need to be thorough. It starts with following government and HSE guidance, developing policies, and communications. Then you need to review your space planning to ensure physical distancing between desks, in meeting rooms, collaboration spaces, and breakouts. Where adequate physical distancing isn’t possible, the introduction of Perspex screens and dividers could help. But we do have reservations about these from an environmental point of view –think about the short-term use of large amounts of acrylic which will then be consigned to landfill for the next several thousand years. And while aesthetics may not be the top priority currently, we still believe it is important to think about how the workplace design makes your employees feel.

Our approach is to keep people safe by spreading them out, not by enclosing them in 1990's style cubicles.

Our approach is to keep people safe by spreading them out, not by enclosing them in 1990's style cubicles.

Other safety measures are the affordable, immediate, and simple to install signage and wayfinding. You can quickly introduce one way systems, and deal with tight passing points around the office. Hygiene measures such as air purification, instant sanitisation, handwashing stations, and more frequent office cleaning will also play a big role. Other physical adaptations could include handsfree products such as foot door openers or anti-bacterial covers for door handles and chair adjustment levels. More permanent measures that reduce touchable surfaces might be to switch to softphones rather than those big, clunky, dust-gathering desk phones. Medical measures could range from temperature checks, and offering COVID 19 tests and antibody tests.

Tie all of this together with behavioral measures such as clear protocols for if a staff member falls ill, guidance for team or partner working, staggering start and finish times, and increasing flexible working

Be confident your business can thrive as best it can during the pandemic

Be confident your business can thrive as best it can during the pandemic

Employee concerns related to the coronavirus are likely to continue for some time. This will vary depending on the location and the level of community transmission still active. Employees, and their family members, maybe anxious about returning to shared public spaces, including the workplace.The more employees understand about what safety measures are being taken, and why, the more likely there is to be employee buy-in. And it's less likely that employees may make complaints internally or externally to other third parties regarding perceived risk in the workplace.

Regular communications will reassure your workforce. They will also be necessary for reminding your staff when social distancing or hygiene behaviours start to slip.

Additionally, culture may have been diluted somewhat by everyone working at home for months, effectively in micro silos. This is about connecting people again and reassuring them that you have their best interests at heart. Involving your employees in the process will help them feel confident about returning to the workplace and will promote a culture of trust and collaboration.

Wayfinding

Wayfinding

An example of wayfinding signs that can be used throughout your workspace to ensure your staff feel safe in your approach. Using signage is a great way to be clear about how the office should be used. It also gives confidence to your staff that the government guidelines are being implemented and their safety is a priority.

How to plan a safe COVID-19 office space

How to plan a safe COVID-19 office space

What does a socially distanced office space plan look like? Below are 3 office physical distancing plans you can use as an example:

  1. Create a COVID-19 Office Risk Assessment
    This plan details one way systems, no entry points where there are tight passing points, and give way posts. It helps plan out movement and reduces or removes the risk of transmission where possible. Take a look here at what you should be including in your COVID-19 office risk assessments.
  2. COVID-19 High-Risk Office Areas
    Next, identify and highlight high-risk areas where transmission of the virus could be more likely. For example, kitchen areas, meeting rooms, breakout spaces, and other communal areas where staff are stood still for longer periods of time.
  3. Reinforce cleaning routines
    This could be making sure there are hand sanitising stations, disinfectant for staff to use for their desks and surrounding areas, or making sure there are enough hand washing stations. Plus making sure your cleaning staff are well-equipped to deal with disinfecting the office and that they are safe too.

Do you need expert COVID-19 office space planning help?

Do you need expert COVID-19 office space planning help?

It’s a lot to think about.We can alleviate thisand help you return to the office RESPONSIBLY, SAFELY and CONFIDENTLY. Request your FREE guide to help get you started by emailing charlie.moss@interaction.uk.com If you'd like to talk more about what you could do to ensure the safe return of your staff to your office then we would love to help, just get in touch.