With the recent COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the U.S., more and more companies are making plans to have their employees return to the office. However, it’s no secret that fully vaccinated people are still at risk of getting infected with the virus.
With this, employers have to carefully consider their new office setup to ensure that the health and safety of their employees are well taken care of. For more than a year since the global pandemic started, the sudden shift to a fully remote work setup is the only feasible solution to keep business operations going.
In fact, based on research about remote work frequency in the U.S., the rate of work-from-home employees jumped from 17 percent to 44 percent. By now, most of the working population has started to realize the benefits of this flexible work setup, which is why many might be skeptical about going back to the office.
Of course, there are still others who prefer working on-site. Hence, for companies to thrive during this crisis, having a mix of WFH and office-based employees is one big factor to consider.
If you are planning to transition to a hybrid workplace, it’s best to consult an expert about redesigning or renovating your office space to make sure you comply with social distancing guidelines.
Embracing a New Normal
In this new normal, the traditional work environment has to go. Employees can’t work side by side anymore. They have to be six feet apart from each other to follow safety protocols. Even small gatherings should be prevented, so open-office plan designs aren’t recommended as well.
This makes it more challenging for colleagues to collaborate with each other. And as a result, teamwork and productivity might suffer. For company success, employers must take the necessary measures to strike a balance between employee safety and overall performance.
To create a safe working environment for your workforce, here are some office layout ideas that you can use while getting ready for your return-to-office.
Renovation Ideas for Office Reopenings
- Transform reception area into a decontamination lounge
Pre-pandemic, your reception area is used as a waiting area for visitors. It’s where you greet them and accommodate their needs. At present, to reduce the risk of virus transmission, it’s ideal to transform this place into a decontamination lounge. Here, visitors and employees can do the necessary procedures such as washing their hands and taking their temperatures.
- Install automatic doors
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus lives on surfaces, so it’s important to frequently disinfect touched surfaces such as doorknobs. Manual disinfection can take a long time. If you want a hassle-free entry and exit system in your office, you should consider installing automatic doors. This way, employees can use keycards instead of touching the door handle.
- Open windows
The virus is airborne, so using central air conditioners or heaters can put your employees at risk. For office ventilation, you can open your windows. There are different types of commercial windows used in office buildings. If you don’t have operable windows, consider having them installed.
- Repurpose communal spaces
Leaving communal spaces like cafeterias and conference rooms unused is such a waste. You can repurpose them to maximize employee productivity and streamline other business activities. For example, you can use the conference room as the dedicated area for deliveries.
- Designate one-way walkways
Close-range face-to-face interactions must be restricted. In an office, it’s common for employees to pass by each other. To avoid that, you should designate a one-way flow of traffic. You can put floor signs as a guide to keep things in order.
- Leverage indoor plants
Having indoor plants is not only for office beautification. Studies have shown that looking at plants can help reduce stress, enhance creativity, and boost employee productivity. This is beneficial for both the company and its workforce. First, it has a positive effect on the mental health of workers. Second, it reduces the company’s employee turnover rate due to work-related stress.
How to Make Your Hybrid Workplace Effective
Creating an effective hybrid workplace is a great challenge for a lot of businesses. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it in the long run. That’s why, as a company, you should think of different strategies and assess them carefully to find out which one works best for you and your employees.
To make a hybrid work setup successful, one of your top priorities should be how to keep your distributed workforce connected. Thanks to technology, it’s not that difficult for remote and on-site workers to communicate and collaborate online. There is a variety of cloud-based tools out there that you can use to make that happen.