All signs are pointing towards businesses reopening in the next month or so. This is excellent news. But what does the new normal look like? Is your business prepared to welcome back employees to a safe and healthy office environment?
If you are a director of operations, facilities manager, or really any kind of manager these are things you need to begin focusing on. Over the years many companies have moved to open format office spaces. This may not be adequate under new expectations and guidelines for your employees' well being..
Here are 5 simple things you can do now to get your office ready to welcome back your employees.
- Redefine the Office Space
If your office is currently designed with a lot of open air or joined desks you should consider providing some protective guards to make your employees feel safer. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways – either permanent or temporary walls with branded clear partitions in between so light can still filter through, not leaving the newly defined spaces feeling completely closed off. Add flexibility for organizational accessories by turning some of the walls into slat wall for shelves, hook and more. Or have fun with the clear partitions and use them as dry erase boards for to do lists or motivational quotes.
Another easy thing to do to bring your office space up to speed is to add clear signage about hand washing and practicing social distancing in strategic areas as a reminder to people. Some areas to consider would be bathrooms, where you could add simple vinyl signage to existing mirrors to encourage hand washing, and break rooms.
- Create Alternative Lunch Areas
If your current break room is not conducive for employees to enjoy their lunch without sitting on top of each other, then you might want to consider creating additional lounge spots for employees to take their breaks and feel comfortable. Here in North Carolina the weather, most days, is nice so creating some relaxing and spacious outside spaces is something to consider. These newly designed space can also make for excellent meeting spaces with clients and vendors.
Also consider adding floor graphics around high traffic areas like vending machines to promote social distancing in the work place.
- Install Hand Sanitizer Stations
You used to only see these come out around flu season, but I think these will be a staple year-round as part of the new normal. Strategically place sanitizer stations around your office and lobby to encourage cleanliness and help make your employees feel safe. You can also take advantage of this opportunity to add branding or messaging to the stands where you know you will have their attention.
- Don’t Forget Your Warehouse and Factory Workers
If your type of business employees warehouse workers that do not have a defined workspace, make sure to provide them plenty of gloves and face shields to help protect them during the workday. Their jobs may require them to move around the office freely, so these are simple ways to provide them protection.
Another thing to consider is to create designate mobile work stations for them so they can keep they can work independently withint their own space.
- Create A Welcoming Reception and Waiting Area
Your lobby is your first impression for most visitors and employees coming into your building. Don’t cheapen the look by adding a random sneeze guard at the front reception desk to protect your receptionist. Consider creating a custom look, with subtle branding and message to make it look thought out and an intentional part of your lobby design.
You also need to consider separating your seating for guests waiting. While most people will reenter the world being cautious, help them by not squishing all your waiting seats together inviting someone to sit to close. We can help find a creative, aesthetic ways to accomplish this.
Lastly, consider creating some nice “Welcome Back” and social distancing graphics to greet your employees and visitors when they come back to the office. This pandemic has been stressful for everyone and showing that appreciation is a simple way to make your staff and customers feel valued. We have created some nice standard Welcome Back kits to make the process quicker and easier for you.
No matter what, make sure you have a thoughtful plan before you reopen your doors.
These new expectations are here to stay for a while. A few changes, and clear attention to healthy and safety will go along way with your employees. You have the choice to make it look like a last minute thought or part of your thoughtful design. Don’t miss this opportunity to create value and appreciation.