As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the infections drop, many areas are opening back up for business. The majority of your employees may have worked from home for the better part of a year. You may wonder how to safely redistribute your website development company workspace to keep everyone safe and productive.
McKinsey recently surveyed 5,000 employees to see what their thoughts are on economies reopening and remote work. About 70% of workers say they define their sense of purpose by the work they do. Companies with strong messaging about policies and procedures help avoid employee burnout and anxiety in a time of fear and high stress.
You can reassure your staff by redesigning your space to account for the changes the workforce experienced in the past year. Opening back up again looks different than it did in 2019. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Allow for Hybrid Work Environments
From March 2020 through March 2021, many people worked from home. They’ve come to enjoy the benefits of not commuting to an office, wearing clothes they already have on hand, and the freedom of working from home.
If you want to keep your most skilled employees or attract new ones, you should offer the possibility of working remotely at least some of the time. Not only are some people more productive working alone, but you’ll also save time and expense on commuting, maintaining a vehicle, and insurance fees.
2. Fix Noise Issues
Since some of your staff may be out of the office and you’ll likely space others farther apart, you may find you have an issue with open spaces and echoes. The noise level in a big, open room without as much furniture, material, or people to cushion the sound can be distracting at best.
The room acoustics impact how sound waves travel through space in your building. Something as simple as adding some ceiling or wall panels makes a significant difference in the work atmosphere.
While noise won’t bother some workers, others can’t concentrate with a lot of buzzes. Be aware of the distinctions in the way people focus and find the best fit for your company culture.
3. Lose the Open Concept
In the past, many businesses went with an open concept. One school of thought states this was never a great idea. Chatty co-workers and distracting phone calls reduced focus and productivity. With the fear of viruses, lack of separation may feel dangerous to your staff and distract them further.
If you can’t afford to put up offices, then space desks out as much as possible. Allowing your staff to work on some days and from home the rest of the time helps rotate who is in the office when. A rotating schedule gives you more space. People may have to share desks, but you can institute a policy of wiping everything down each evening or hiring a cleaning crew to come in and sanitize.
You also can create pods where small groups can meet in relative quiet. Think about the uses you have for your space and how that’s changed with the pandemic.
4. Add Water Stations
One of the things most touted during the COVID-19 outbreak has been the importance of handwashing. Encourage better hygiene practices by installing places to wash your hands and adding sanitizer dispensers throughout your office.
Ideally, you’ll have something set up as people enter the building so they can grab some sanitizer before entering. However, think about the tasks people complete during the day. If someone uses the copier, they’ll want a nearby water station or sanitizer dispenser.
5. Set Up Illness Policies
Put firm policies in place for how to handle employee illness. Some people come to work when they feel under the weather out of fear of reprisal or because they can’t afford to miss days of work.
Pay your workers to stay when they suspect they might have the virus. Require a negative test before they return. Make your expectations clear. What happens if they begin feeling sick while at work?
You may want to take temperatures as people enter the building, but not everyone shows the same symptoms, so educate your employees to know what might potentially be the virus. Ask them to work from home or take a paid day off rather than risking exposing those around them.
6. Prepare for the Next Wave
Although the COVID-19 pandemic may ease, innovative companies will use the experience to prepare for other work disruptions. What happens if there is another virus in the near future? How will you handle a natural disaster?
Look for flexible solutions, such as movable walls. How can you tap into outdoor spaces around your building for team-building activities from a distance?
Stay abreast of future technological developments. Can you invest in delivery robots to get goods to your local customers faster? How will you engage remote workers?
Changes in Future Offices
There are many subtle ways a post-COVID world will be different. Expect furniture and surfaces to be made of antimicrobial materials. Things will be sleek and easy to sanitize. Carpets and rugs may give way to more industrial floor coverings.
Think about how you can most easily sanitize and still showcase your company’s style. Over time, different design priorities will become second nature. For the time being, thinking through the daily use of each item helps you see what adjustments to make.
– Originally written by Eleanor Hecks (Editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine)