Meeting the challenge of COVID-19

Returning to work

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Is your Workplace ready for the return to work?

There is no getting away from the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had and will continue to have on day-to-day life. Everyone has been affected by the outbreak and following the announced government lockdown, the landscape of the workplace has and will continue to evolve. This is particularly the case as business owners take stock and look how they can re-introduce staff to the workplace safely whilst alleviating any fears the team may have.

As experts in workplace design and fit out DSP (Interiors) Ltd are here to help you adapt to these challenges

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Balancing the safety of staff and visitors with the benefits of increased productivity, collaboration, and ergonomically designed workspaces

One of the key drivers from the government has been to encourage as many people as possible to work from home and help maintain the 2m social distancing guidelines. Whilst some have embraced the opportunity to work from home, for many workers this has presented numerous barriers to overcome; finding a safe and practical space to work from at home, child care whilst Schools are closed for most Children, work-life balance, social isolation, taking care of mental wellbeing and anxiety to name a few.

Read on to see how we can reap the benefits of the workplace whilst mitigate the risk of spread of infection.

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Key entry points & circulation

High traffic areas and spaces that host outside visitors will be of particular risk of contamination from both airborne spread and via transfer from surfaces. Key mitigating strategies to consider will be:

  • Maintaining social distancing: Regular prompts and guidance for both staff & visitors.
  • Introduce additional hand sanitation stations: Encourage high standards of cleanliness.
  • Hygienic surfaces: If your reception is worn and in need of an upgrade this would be an ideal time to undertake a refurbishment choosing surfaces that are easily cleaned and hygienic. For example, there are various antimicrobial flooring, wall finishes and furniture on the market which actively repel microorganisms.
  • Barriers: minimise risk where close contact is unavoidable with barrier screens.
  • Signage: reiterate the message of social distancing and regular hand washing with clear signage in key areas.
  • Way finding: limiting where visitors can circulate and enabling them and staff to observe the 2M distancing rule will require considered way finding. Signage and floor marking can be used as a visual aids and prompts.
  • Reducing surface touching: introduce key fob automated doors in high traffic areas with the added benefit of security and tracking visitors.

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Mitigating hazards through careful space planning and strategies

Our multi award winning designers will provide space planning options to mitigate hazards, taking into consideration the most cost effective, yet safe approach.

  • Observing 2M with existing workstations: We have seen a reduction in workstation size over the years due to increasing use of technology. This may cause issues with observing the 2M rule. There are a couple of options we can adopt, firstly hit and miss desk locations and increasing desk numbers or desk widths. An alternative may be to install additional sub dividing clear screens or reconfigure workstations if they are individual desks.
  • Grouping smaller teams of workers:most workplaces have adopted open plan offices to some degree. To reduce contamination and contain transmission within the wider office we can sub divide the space using either mobile clear screens, or screens with microbial antibacterial fabric finishes as a simple solution. Alternatively, sub-division can be created with fixed glazed screens which retain visual connectivity and the opportunity to add graphics such as social distancing guidance which can be exchanged later for branding.
  • Meetings: situations that require close interaction within a confined space is an obvious no-no. More space will be required per person and any face-to-face contact should be mitigated by protective screens. Where possible adoption of more open plan informal meetings should be more widespread. The practice of meetings from your own desk space could be an option that grows in popularity. Using mobile phones and tablets to undertake meetings from your own desk, reducing physical contact – but most importantly in a professional setting and not being constantly interrupted by a family pet or someone knocking at the door!

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Creating a safe and healthy environment

Our designers can incorporate methods to increase the healthiness off your workplace

  • Efficient ventilation: from both a physiological and psychological perspective access to fresh air within the workplace will be paramount. In an ideal world more opening windows should be introduced to provide access to natural ventilation, with the added benefit of more natural daylight. Where this is not possible a review of the existing mechanical ventilation should be undertaken and where possible an upgrade to an energy efficient heat recovery ventilation system.
  • Reduced physical contact through technology: continued adoption of this technology could be utilised to have professional meetings from your own desk reducing contact. Even simple actions like sending communication electronically rather than printing off cuts surface contact and reduces waste.
  • Hygienic finishes: If your office is really in need of a revamp and a hot bed for germs, this could be the ideal time to refresh various areas within the office – introducing microbial anti bacterial wall, floor, surface and furniture finishes.
  • Circulation and way finding: The flow of people throughout the office space may need re-evaluating. The aim should be to limit the crossover of staff which could be achieved by moving traffic clockwise for example. It is important to spread the density of staff avoiding any bottle-necking through careful space planning and distribution of walkways.

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Time to re-think communal support spaces

The capacity of support spaces may need to be reduced or the layout carefully considered to ensure maintaining of the 2M distance rule.

  • Rest areas, Toilets and Refreshment Points: Current layouts should be evaluated and updated where possible to provide more distancing and avoid cross over in limited spaces such as Lobbies. Where possible additional sanitaryware could be introduced and subdivided using screens or cubicles. Adoption of automated technologies such as sensor taps, smart appliances and automated PIR light switching could be incorporated that will reduce the fingering of surfaces. Another consideration within these areas is the current standard of hygiene. A revamp of communal spaces with more hygienic finishes could be one of the most cost-effective ways to improve the office environment.
  • Agile working and co working: One of the great barriers of the COVID-19 virus will be the affect it has on workspaces that have been designed around agile working principles. Smart solutions will be required to enable the restricted use of agile workspaces to retain the benefit of collaboration and workplaces that support task-based working. Fixtures and fittings will now need to function as barriers to protect rather than encourage close working.

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Delivering COVID-19 compliant workplaces

Contact us for your free design consultation

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