We’re currently under lockdown and most office workers are at home but what happens when we go back to work? It’s unlikely that we’ll be going straight back to that bustling office environment, brushing shoulders with our colleagues. So what’s the solution? These are a few easy fixes for the post-corona office when the call comes that we’re back to work as usual.
Putting health & hygiene at the forefront
Outside of a clinical or healthcare setting, hygiene hasn’t really been a priority in design but with the outbreak of coronavirus it must be a factor going forward. It would appear that COVID-19 lasts a good few hours and possibly days on hard surfaces and they should be the focus of a new regime.
Desks, keyboards, door handles, communal equipment like photocopiers and every other hard surface should be subject to regular cleaning. Whether you have a cleaner or not this is the time to instil a sense of personal responsibility for staff to keep up hygienic habits.
A hand-sanitiser dispenser costs less than £10. Install one close to the entrance or water cooler or the group printer to encourage regular use. Think about giving staff access to a ‘cleaning station’ with a range of products for them to use during the day, including an anti-bacterial surface cleaner. Some strategically placed signage will remind people of good practice when coronavirus is (hopefully) a distant memory.
In the kitchen
Invest in a dishwasher for the office. Dishwashers are more effective sterilisers than even your keenest cleaners. If that’s impossible, it’s advisable to allocate crockery to staff rather than sharing. Purchasing some personalised mugs may be what’s required and perhaps get your team involved to choose colours or style. Again a sign to ask staff to use a disinfectant spray after preparing their lunch or washing their hands before opening the fridge is unlikely to attain 100% commitment but reminds people that cleanliness is vital. When there is always expectation of a cleaner coming in at the end of the day, sometimes we become slap dash and it’s important to raise the bar to say that the kitchen should be immaculate all day.
In the loos
You want to encourage people to wash their hands regularly and if your staff loos are unpleasant they’re not going to make that extra trip. They don’t need to emulate a five star hotel but staff often really appreciate a nice toilet because sometimes it’s the best break from the desk they’re going to get. Firstly the toilets must be smart and hygienic. If you have hundreds of staff, stainless steel offers a very practical solution. You may have unisex toilets for smaller teams and you need to ensure they are practical for everyone. Think about how easy they are to clean. PVC cladding, such as Whiterock are being chosen over tiles for toilets in commercial spaces more and more because they are easy to clean and look great. Paying a bit more for soap (and moisturiser – we’re all suffering from dry hands here) is worth it if it means staff clean their hands for 20 seconds rather than a cursory splash of water. Ditch that grotty hand towel now and get a good hand dryer – you know who you are!
Build distance into your post-corona office
Wow remember those times when people shook hands!? Hopefully human contact will return but if you’re expecting your staff to sit a mere foot away from each other, you’re going to receive objections. We’re always thinking about the future of the office and coronavirus has highlighted so many contradictions in planning. Hot-desking seems like a terrible idea from a social distancing point of view. Lots of companies have discovered that working from home really is an option for the first time, and let’s face it there are also going to be considerable lay-offs. So you may be thinking about your office space and whether it’s worth the expense. Open plan may be a bad idea but enclosing teams in smaller spaces may be worse. We don’t have the answers but no one does right now so it’s probably not the time to make decisions unless the future of your company depends on it. The post-corona office will be different and we’re looking closely into how to make better spaces for health and hygiene. For now stay home, stay safe and stay sane!
We’re still working and taking on new clients. If you are planning a refit, relocating or need speculative plans for future projects give us a call.