Would You Consider ‘Zoning’ Your Office?

With businesses gradually starting to open up and some offices reopening to workers, with others trying to work out how best to facilitate a safe return to work, there is much discussion about how best to manage communal workspaces in a post-Covid-19 world.

An article for OPI recently offered some suggestions on how to start tackling the many potential issues with bringing people back into the office.

Writing for the publication Kelly Link offered some advice to businesses about where to begin and it all starts with zoning your office and its building.

She explained that you need to determine which areas are high-traffic and/or high-touch zones. For instance, bathrooms, break rooms and receptions would all be classed as high-traffic and high-touch zones.

Hallways and corridors, meanwhile, would be classed as high-traffic but low-touch zones. Then you have areas such as work stations, lifts and conference rooms, which are high-touch but medium-traffic zones.

Finally, you have the low-traffic zones, which would include the likes of private offices, print rooms and filing areas, but these would all be classed as high-touch zones.

Identifying the high and medium-traffic zones, as well as the high-touch zones, in your workplace will give you the ideal starting point for introducing measures to keep everyone safe and restrict the spread of the virus.

Among Ms Link’s suggestions are to make sure that you have very clear guidance on cleaning and sanitising protocols. People need to know whether they should clean anything they touch, for instance, as well as how often you’ll be bringing in the assistance of professionals with commercial cleaning in London, or wherever you’re based.

Making sure that everyone has access to hand sanitiser is vital as well. It’s best to have sanitising stations near the entrance to the building/office, as well as at individual work stations.

She also suggested that you could consider creating touch-free spaces by introducing the likes of automatic doors and touch-free soap dispensers, for instance.

However, these kinds of solutions should be in addition to a thorough cleaning regime and sanitising programme, rather than instead.

If you are exploring your options for bringing employees back into workplaces, you need to make sure that they have confidence in the measures you’re introducing. Earlier this month, research conducted by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) found that 34 per cent of workers are not looking forward to returning to the office.

This has increased from 19 per cent in April, indicating that a growing number of people are feeling more comfortable with remote working than they were at the beginning of lockdown.

While 42 per cent said they were concerned about having less time for personal activities when they returned to working in an office, 41 per cent revealed that they were having reservations because they believe social distancing will be unrealistic in their workplace.

63 per cent of those questioned also said that they don’t believe their employer is doing enough to keep them safe and protect their health when talking about a return to work.

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