April 05, 2022

COVID Workplace: How To Design A Safe Environment

Article by Will Sedgwick

Designing a workplace that is COVID-safe and secure post pandemic [1 August 2022 Update]

There’s no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live and work. And if you’re a manager or business owner overseeing the transition back to the workplace, chances are, you’re feeling a little overwhelmed. With the situation constantly changing, it can be hard to keep up to keep your workplace functioning.

For the majority of organisations, the transition back to work has required numerous short-term fixes to meet the legal obligations of a post-COVID workplace. But as more people return to the workplace, longer-term strategies that involve rethinking office layouts are needed. This will ensure businesses are better equipped to manage future challenges.

This no doubt presents a serious challenge. However, with the right knowledge and support, you can find a solution that will encourage your employees to come back to work. So, are you ready to map out a plan to get your workplace equipped for today’s challenges and beyond? Read on to discover the key considerations for creating a successful modern workplace that is safe and future ready.

COVID-19 Workplace Obligations

The first order of business when designing a workplace post-COVID-19 is to make sure that the space is safe. Prioritising the health and safety of your employees, clients and stakeholders should always be front of mind. This means ensuring that all areas are clean and disinfected, and that there are plenty of hand sanitizer stations and wipes available. Additionally, it may be helpful to set up a quarantine or separate work areas for anyone who is feeling sick. Once the space is safe, you can begin to focus on the aesthetics.

Assuming you have assessed that your workplace is safe short-term, it’s now time to start thinking about more permanent changes. This might involve revamping your office layout to promote better collaboration. Or it might be adding new amenities such as wellness areas or quiet rooms. It’s important to keep in mind that the needs of your employees will continue to change. As a result, it’s important to have a workplace that can adapt and grow with your company. If you’re unsure where to start, it may be helpful to consult with an office design specialist who can help map out a plan that meets the current and future needs of your business. With their expertise, you can be sure that your workplace is equipped for the future.

Social Distance Requirements

When it comes to designing a better workplace, it is important to maximise your available space, allowing you to meet the recommendations of social distancing. This might involve reconfiguring your office layout to create more space between desks, or adding partitions to common areas.

How you tackle this will depend on the size of your workspace and team. In some workplaces it may be sufficient to source new workstations or add partitions. On the other hand, others may require a larger scale approach. One way of doing this may be to completely change the existing floorspace. Some businesses may also adopt a combination of both, making smaller changes to meet an immediate need now, while also implementing a longer-term strategy to future-proof the business.

Either way, it can be challenging to visualise how to best reconfigure your space. Once again, it may be helpful to consult with an office design specialist to help you create a plan. With their help, you can be sure that your workplace is both safe and socially stimulating.

The New Normal for COVID-19 Workplaces

During previous restrictions, closures and lockdowns, we have spent much more time communicating virtually. Due to this, we have universally embraced video calls as an effective way to stay connected at work while apart.

This has worked so well. It now seems certain that virtual appointments, meetings, conferences and training will continue as it is efficient and cost-effective. For most workplaces this will require a complete change in setup. Dedicated spaces will need to be available where calls can be made in a quiet and private location. This will mitigate unprofessional interruptions and background noise.

A viable solution to address this is the installation of dedicated phone and video conferencing booths that can accommodate the increase in numbers of video calls and conferencing that will now be a regular part of many employee’s daily routines.

Phone booth in modern workplace

ROI is a Must

Now that the pandemic has eased, many businesses are looking to make changes. However, making these changes can be expensive and it’s important to get return on your investment. A good way to ensure this is by working with a complete strategy that addresses all needs of your organisation. Making changes cohesively offers more value financially than leaving it open for ongoing issues (and subsequent expenses) to arise.

Working with a commercial fitout specialist who can provide a competitive quote on the entire project, allows you to measure ROI far more effectively than a reactive approach. Plus, when you tackle it holistically, you can be confident you’ve covered all bases and your workplace is as prepared as it can be for what lies ahead. This flows through to an added peace of mind, confidence and loyalty within your team. When they feel valued and cared for, your staff are more likely to stay on in the organisation long-term.

Key takeaways

While the challenges of a returning workforce can at times seem overwhelming, with the right approach, transforming your workplace into a COVID-secure environment is highly achievable. What’s more, a transformation of your work environment can potentially lead to an invigorated workforce.

Whether you have a vision of what you are striving for, or need guidance to bring it all together, partnering with the right interior design and fitout team allows you to make the most of this opportunity for change. It’s time to create a new workplace that is not only post pandemic ready, but also perfectly suited to maximise the productivity and wellbeing of your team.

How has your workplace adapted to this new way of working? Let us know by sharing your comments on our socials. We’d love to hear from you.

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