Responding to a crisis requires both change management and relationship management. Whether “returning to work” entails editing the status quo or navigating a new norm, it’s foreseeable that stakeholder expectations, frustrations and fears will rise and fall; almost daily.
Beyond developing new procedures for occupants and visitors, we believe employers will necessarily have to marry their strategies for nourishing trust and employee wellbeing.
Employees will need reassurance that their workplace is adequately cleaned, that protocols are in place to prevent microbe propagation and that it’s a ubiquitous effort. Trust will be as important for an effective return to the workplace as it has been to surviving during this tumultuous period. So, in addition to incorporating social distancing into office designs, here are the opportunities we see for boosting office immunity using components of the built environment.
Minimizing Person-to-Person Contact
The most prominent vehicle of viral propagation has been recorded as person-to-person transmission. While it may run counter to open office concepts, retrofitting current work environments with physical partitions is one of the simplest ways to increase office immunity.
Physical Partitions can be arranged throughout the workspace to segment high-traffic areas and help keep workspace occupants’ germs to themselves.
Protective Barriers can be affixed to desks and countertops for reassurance without sacrificing the quality of interaction.
The most effective way to prevent the spread of germs in an office is simply to limit the number of occupants at any given time. If you don’t have the opportunity to plan your new office accordingly, you do have the chance to influence office immunity through design.
Reconfiguring your existing workplace affords you the opportunity to affect behaviors with limited policy implementation. And, informally, we find it to be a good communication from employer to employee that they are valued.
The greatest return you’ll see among your responses to the pandemic will be from investments in process and behavior. Office wayfinding signage is a less-than intensive method of affecting how people behave in a space.
Closed or divided offices will help people maintain appropriate distances, but physical separation will only mitigate transmission through person-to-person contact.
Reupholstering cubicles and/or chairs with antimicrobial fabric imbues your office space with immunity to becoming a surface vector of microbe propagation.
Finally, considering the rigor and regularity of your environmental cleaning will only behoove higher levels of occupant wellbeing. Cubicle Cleaning is an effective, low-disruption process to remove residual filth from panels that, if we’re being honest, probably haven’t been cleaned in a while.
Efforts Toward Office Immunity Will Alter The Workplace Physically.
But, because they influence culture, the workplace paradigm will also change fundamentally. So, as you navigate your way to the new norm, we’d like to throw a reminder out there that our mission is to make your workspace work as hard as you do – whatever form that takes. Already considering your strategy in response to how the workplace will inevitably change? We’d love for you to tell us about your project and see if we’re a good fit for partnering with you to execute that response. Please stay safe and be considerate of vulnerable populations!