Preserve a Team Environment: Safe Office Space Layouts for a COVID-19 World

This year has been full of unique challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies in every industry have had to be creative in order to go back to work without sacrificing their employees’ health in the process. There are many benefits to working together in the office – but you’ll need to make sure that you are able to keep your team socially distanced while you do so. Here are some of the benefits of working together in person – and office layout ideas that will help you do so safely.

Advantages of Working in An Office

Although working from home has become very common, there are still many advantages to working in a traditional office space. Here’s why so many companies are still opting for office rentals

Creativity and Collaboration

Working in an office space with others fosters creativity. When your team has the ability to collaborate in person, it’s much easier to brainstorm and expand on each other’s ideas. This feeling of collaboration is difficult to replicate virtually. The process of organizing meetings is often easier in the office as well. You’ll be able to spend more time generating ideas and less time tackling technology or communication issues.

Problem Solving 

Another advantage of working in an office is the ability to solve problems much more quickly than you would while working remotely. If you encounter a challenge during the course of the workday, it’s much easier to talk to a supervisor in person and solve it right away. This is particularly advantageous for those who work with advanced technology that might need to be repaired or adjusted throughout the workday. 

Networking and Team Bonding

In order to run a truly successful team, you need to give them opportunities to build trust and develop relationships with one another. While there are ways to do this virtually, it tends to happen more organically in the office. This also gives employees the opportunity to network, which can help them advance their careers in the long run. 

Morale Boost

Working together in an office can also help to boost morale for your team. Many people struggle to stay motivated when they are working by themselves for an extended period of time. Having others around who are focused on a common goal helps your team stay motivated, productive, and excited about the work they are doing. 

Access to Technology

Technology is essential to the daily workflow of people in many different industries. Often the advanced technology available at the office isn’t practical for employees to take home with them. When you have your team in the office, they will have access to the technology that they need to do their jobs to the fullest capacity. 

Work/Life Balance

Working in an office every day is actually very important for work-life balance. Many people are surprised to find that it can be very difficult to separate work and personal life in a home office. When you’re working from home, it can be difficult to take breaks or detach at the end of the workday. When you’re working in the office, you can leave work at work and spend your evenings with those you care about. 

Safe Office Space Layouts to Try

Reorganizing your office space during the pandemic can significantly reduce your team’s risk of spreading COVID-19 when done effectively. Of course, you’ll also need to have other health and safety measures in place in your office rentals. These could include mask wearing, reduced capacity in your space, regular hand-washing, and sick days available for those who are experiencing symptoms. Here are some of the best office design ideas to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

One-Way Traffic

One of the biggest potential risk points in any office is when employees have to be within a six foot distance of each other. This is when there is considerable risk for transmission. This can happen when employees are walking through the space and crossing paths with each other in the hallway. 

A good way to minimize the risks here is to set up your office so that employees only walk in one direction. This makes it much easier for them to stay six feet apart from each other. Set up designated entrances and exits, with a path that makes a loop around the office. The pathway should be clearly designated with arrows and social distancing markers to remind your employees which way to go. 

Larger Workstations

Increasing the size of each employee’s desk can not only help them be more productive at work, but it can also ensure a safe six foot distance from nearby employees. Many companies are even opting to implement plexiglass dividers between each desk to catch the droplets that could cause transmission. Large individual workstations also allow teams to work near each other instead of being in separate rooms. These large workstations with plexiglass barriers or other dividers can serve as a new take on the cubicle. Cubicles are coming back into fashion during this time, because they give employees enough space and privacy to stay safe. 

One of the challenges of implementing larger workstations for each employee is that it can limit your space. If you don’t have enough room for your entire team to be in the space at once, consider having your team members alternate between working from home and working at the office. Make sure you are sanitizing workstations in between use to prevent transmission between employees who share them. 

Accessible Meeting Spaces

One of the biggest benefits of working in an office is being able to connect with other team members in person. Your team is going to need plenty of comfortable and safe meeting spaces to connect. These meeting rooms should be large enough that employees can sit at least six feet apart. They should also be well ventilated and have minimal shared surfaces. For example, you can opt to put two desks in your meeting rooms instead of one long table. If possible, you can also opt for doors that open automatically and lights that turn on with sensors. Keep the capacity for your meeting rooms low to avoid transmission, and ensure that they are sanitized on a regular basis throughout the day. 

Multiple Hand-Washing Stations

Employees should be washing their hands throughout the day, or at least using hand sanitizer. However, if you only have one kitchen or one bathroom, that space can get crowded very quickly. To ensure that employees have plenty of opportunities to wash their hands, place portable sinks at key points throughout the office. In the same vein, consider having multiple small fridges and microwaves throughout the office instead of one kitchen that sees a lot of traffic. This reduces the amount of people who come in contact with these pieces of furniture. In general, having lightweight, portable pieces of furniture makes it easier to rearrange the office when you need to. 

Reduce Density in Open Floor Plans

An open office floor plan can foster creativity and collaboration. While it may not seem like they could work in a post-COVID world, a little creativity can help you keep your open office without putting your team in danger. The key is to reduce the density of your open office by cutting back on tightly packed desks, so there’s room for employees to walk through while still staying at least six feet away from anyone sitting down. If you have multiple employees working at the same desk, make sure they are on either end so they can be six feet apart. Depending on the type of building you are working in, open office plans can also be much easier to ventilate with open windows, air filters, and fans. 

Safe Reception Area

If your office has a reception area, you can use it as a place to enforce COVID safety protocols during this time. When employees or visitors enter the space, you can have them visit reception for things like a temperature check, hand sanitizer, and an introduction to the building’s safety protocols. Prevent people from congregating by using signage to help keep visitors six feet apart. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented hurdles for companies in many different industries. Giving your employees the opportunity to work in an office space when they want to has so many benefits. Not only can it help your team members work more comfortably and be more creative, but it also improves your company’s productivity and performance as a whole. When you find an office space for rent in Clifton Park, NY, it’s important to set it up in a way where each team member can maintain at least six feet of distance from each other while in the office. 

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