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How to Create a Socially Distanced Office Workspace

By | McKenzie Jones

As more and more places of business are opening their doors for on-site work, office managers are looking for ways to work within the constraints levied by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Before you welcome your employees back into the office, it is crucial that you take the necessary precautions to keep everyone healthy and safe. Here are four ways that you can create a socially distanced office space so that your employees feel comfortable about returning to work. 

Use the Barriers Already in Place

 There is a good chance that you already have some natural barriers already in place. When looking to create a socially distanced office environment, you need to look at what you already have established so that you do not need to start from scratch.

Cubicle walls provide ideal protection and barrier between office spaces. Items such as rolling whiteboards can also be used to create barriers and remind people to keep their distance. When setting up these temporary restrictive barriers, be sure that you take care to not block emergency exits.

You can also consider making temporary offices in other areas of the building so that the employees are spaced for appropriate social distancing. For example, if you are not using that conference room as often as in the past, you can try putting a few employees in there for work so that there is more space between everyone in the building. 

Install the Appropriate Furniture

 For the best results in your social distancing efforts, consider setting up furniture and dividers designed particularly for this use. There is a variety of social distancing office furniture that you can purchase to ensure that everyone has a safe amount of space to work.

There are now specifically designed social distancing cubicles available that provide sufficient protection. This will allow you to bring more staff back into the office while still ensuring the proper protocols. If you do not want to invest in all new furniture and cubicles, you may consider purchasing some retrofitted solutions for your existing set-up. While this may seem like an insurmountable task, it is important to know that you do not need to re-invent the wheel. 

Work at Reduced Office Capacity

 One of the best ways that you can practice safe social distancing in your place of business is to simply limit the number of people in the building. You can accomplish this task by operating the office at a reduced capacity.

The first step in this process is to determine what job duties necessitate being on-site. By prioritizing bringing back the employees that need to work in the office first, you will boost productivity while still maintaining a safe distance. You will likely find that you have ample volunteers willing to continue to work remotely.

Rotating your workers into the office in shifts is also an effective strategy. For example, perhaps you want to allow some staff to work on-site on Mondays and Thursdays while the other half works in the building on Tuesdays and Fridays. You can then use Wednesday as a deep cleaning day. 

Take Special Care in Common Spaces

 While it may be easy to create socially distanced spaces for separate offices, the common areas of the building may give you a bigger headache. Staff lunch rooms are particularly worrisome, especially because people will need to take off masks to eat and drink. You can create a safer work environment by encouraging your staff to eat at their desks where they can socially distance. Limiting the number of people allowed in the staff break room will also help the situation.

Conference rooms also pose a significant hazard when attempting to keep your staff at an appropriate distance. This is not the time to gather everyone around the conference table for a meeting. Instead, considering using a virtual conference call system to host meetings.

If your office has a reception area, you can remove seating so that people are not tempted to congregate in unsafe numbers.

It is important to remember that this is a temporary situation. Although this is a challenging time to conduct business, taking the right precautions now will protect both your employees and your bottom line.

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