It goes without saying that the past few months have been unprecedented.
Uncertain for many, and certainly not without challenges, the pandemic has turned the way that many work on its head. For those that have been championing flexible working, this upheaval has provided an opportunity to force corporations to trial flexible working and for the vast majority of companies it has proven to be a resounding success.
For many business owners, the period of lockdown has also been a chance to reflect on what was working well, and what in fact was not.
Now that restrictions have been eased, it could be the perfect opportunity to put those big plans in motion and refresh your business.
The priority of course in the first instance needs to be your workforce, who have the right to return to a safe and functional workplace and as a business owner, the onus is on you to ensure you are complying with the guidelines and measure set our by the government and your industry.
Whilst the same cannot be said for all, it is likely in most cases, that your staff will be eager to return to a space that they associate as a working space. Many will have long become bored of the bad back that comes from working at the kitchen table or have grown tired of the continual distractions of having their family under own roof.
Simple preparations to enable staff to return to the office;
Clear your space of clutter
A clear and clean set up will enable your staff to come back into the office and to maintain clean surfaces.
Distance your desks and organise working zones
Distancing ourselves from others has become the normal way of life and is a key part of being able to introduce employees back into the office. This could be difficult for some employees to stick to or come to terms with, therefore, implementing the practice into your office from the very start will help others to acquaint themselves with this. Use signs as visual aids to remind staff of the regulations in place.
Ideally, you should work side by side or back to back rather than facing one another.
The size of your office will determine whether your whole team can come back at once. If you don’t have the capacity to house all your employees at once, you will need to prepare a balanced routine of working from home and in the office.
As discussed above, flexible working isn’t an unusual proposal it once as and has become increasingly more popular with the latest circumstances. Flexible working encompasses a number of different working situations; whether this means your staff work between the office and the comfort of their own homes, assign designated days in the office each month or group all their office working hours to be completed over three or four days as opposed to the typical five day working week.
If your office space doesn’t allow for every member of the team to be in the office at any one time, this style of working should assist in complying to the distancing rules.
Key things to consider for your new space
Use separate entrances and exits for the building to avoid passing within the one-metre rule or accidentally bumping into each other. With one-way systems being implemented into many commercial premises, do you have a set up that allows for this?
Install sanitiser and provide antibacterial wipes in all areas where contact is made; entrances and exits, kitchens, bathrooms, breakout spaces, desks and chairs.
Did you previously allow hot desking or have an area for employees to work when they’re struggling to focus? For the time being, it would be wise to close this off or restrict who is able to use the space.
Wipeable dividers and partitions should be installed for shared tables and desks, protecting staff members from those around them.
Remove seating in the communal spaces, such as breakout areas. Unfortunately, during this time, communal dining is discouraged.
How to keep your staff positive in times of change?
With these measures in place, be considerate that the new working environment may be demotivating for some staff members. Indeed, it’s a significant change for everyone so be clear about the new rules in place so that everyone knows what s expected of them. In addition, you could consider ways to uplift the mood and help your employees feel at ease.
Add a little green into your office
Indoor plants are a great mood booster, it’s been widely studied that plants increase the wellbeing of those who work with them or are around them day in and day out.
Is your office furniture in need of a review?
Now may be the time to consider upgrading your staff’s office furniture to include easy to clean desks and ergonomic chairs will boost morale considerably after months of working at the dining room table or from the sofa.
Brighten your spaces
An office renovation, even if it is just a fresh lick of paint, could be what it takes to make the space seem more welcoming. Colours such as blue and yellow work to brighten moods, whether you wish for the office to generate a calming effect or increase occupant’s energy.
Where possible encourage the use of outdoors spaces for meetings and work. Getting outdoors not only allows for easier management of social distancing, but the fresh air is likely to refresh and revitalise your staff.
Adding separation and dividers in your open plan space
For many years the open-plan office has been deemed the perfect space. Now, an open-plan space could make it more difficult for staff to stay out of the way of others.
Split larger teams into workforce bubbles
If you have a large team, consider splitting them into teams that include varying skillsets. This will minimise the impact on your business should you experience a Covid-19 case.
Office pods are an effective way to divide a room, not only creating a safe working space for your team but also somewhere to escape from the rest of the office when they need to get their head down. If you are going to use office pods in your workplace at this time it would be advised to select who is able to use them and at what times, to avoid cross-contamination. Only allow a capacity that ensures occupants are correctly distanced and have measures in place for the pod to be sanitised after every use.
Another alternative to close off a space, or to guide staff a specific direction around the office is to add in storage walls or units. These offer an alternative to adding permanent walls and partitions which can be costly. Office storage units are great ways to create smaller, private spaces whilst utilising the space around you.
Time to consider a refurbishment?
With many staff still working from home, it could be the perfect time to finally get underway with a long-anticipated renovation. Whether your office interiors need a full redesign due to the impact of Covid-19 or an under-occupied workspace proves to be the perfect time to start afresh, then our team would love to hear from you.
If you have any questions about how to adjust your workspace or would like to discuss a future project, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01603 722123.
We’re experts in finding smart, affordable, stylish and convenient solutions for all workspaces and would be happy to help implement changes in your office.
We’re really pleased with the way the office has been upgraded by Bluespace. Jonathon and the team were meticulous in their attention to detail and the end result shows the difference between what it takes to create a good office space and a great office space. It’s clear to see how this new office has positively affected everyone working and visiting Carrow Road.