Written by Jennifer Gaggion of Design Your Monday! and a member of the CTmrg Service Team.
As times change, we must adjust and find ways to adapt, and this includes updates and redesigns in our places of work. With new safety guidelines being established, the office designs we are used to have become outdated. Certain changes must be made before employees can safely return to their offices.
In the midst of rushing to safely reopen offices, there’s a lot that could be overlooked. However, designing and updating your office space on your own does not have to be a daunting project! Even though it’s not always easy to stay on track, whether that’s with the budget, design scheme, or any surprises along the way, we want you to know there are ways to avoid certain delays and disasters.
If you are in a situation where you need to make important decisions in a short time frame, while also complying with CDC guidelines, then here are 5 design updates to apply before your employees return to the office .
1. Space(d out) Planning
Space planning is one of the most crucial aspects to get right in the world of interior design. The keyword here is “planning”. It’s very important to be diligent in the planning process before you move forward with ordering certain items, and scheduling work that needs to be done.
Be sure that your new space plan meets new social distancing requirements, and do this before purchasing any new office furnishings. You must ensure that employees are able to remain 6 feet apart while working. However, it is important to still keep in mind the other components that contribute to your office’s functionality: like how your employees actually work on a day to day basis or space for mechanical storage.
Be open (no pun intended) to new layouts, and spacing things out rather than larger designated zones for certain things. For example, think about a copy room and how many employees often gather in the space at once to fulfill their copying and printing needs. New social distancing rules don’t exactly encourage the simultaneous use of copy machines that are placed side by side. Consider instead, placing copy machines around different areas or corners of your office space. This way multiple copy machines can be in use at the same time without a queue of employees forming in order to comply with social distance guidelines.
2. Quality of Materials
Considering the quality of materials that are selected for an office space can have many benefits. Higher quality furnishings mean stronger, more stable products that will hold up in high traffic areas, and last for a long time.
Its important to also choose quality when it comes to finishes and surfaces. Wear and tear again being a factor, but also for cleanliness purposes. Be knowledgeable about whether or not the fabrics you are selecting are germ resistant, or how porous and easy to clean the solid surfaces you chose are.
Air Quality Matters Too!
Don’t forget about the air quality! We all know we need air to breathe, so remember that the quality of that air influences how we operate! Low air quality and poor air circulation can negatively affect our moods and productivity levels, which is not something you want for your employees. Investing in a great quality air purification system can put your mind at ease knowing your employees’ health are being looked after as far as air quality, and you’ll likely notice an overall improvement with better air.
3. Meeting new COVID-19 Requirements
No matter what stage of a re-design you may be in, ensuring that your business environment follows building codes should always be a top priority. Understand the importance of building codes, and follow them properly. In doing so, you’ll learn how important the planning phase of design is. Then you can be sure that you aren’t ordering items or scheduling work that doesn’t fit or cannot be completed in your building, which can save time and money!
Following codes and current requirements put in place for handling COVID-19 are especially important in public areas. Your business should not have to sacrifice the benefits of collaboration, and employees shouldn’t feel they are losing their sense of community at work while following CDC guidelines. Consider using technology to bring people together at work, like group video calls or online office group chats with companies like Slack.com, even when everyone is in the office together. Redesign meeting rooms to be social distance friendly (for all members directly involved in that meeting), and use a webcam, so the other employees can watch and listen in and still benefit from the meeting.
Define “Meeting Space”…
Or, consider redefining “meeting spaces” altogether. Maybe that no longer means conference room, maybe instead its taking advantage of the new open office layout that you’ve just designed and creating presentations to the whole office. Doing so can also encourage the sense of community with employees speaking up and contributing to the meeting from their desks, because it opens things up socially!
4. Don’t forget why you started!
Just as important as building codes, is your company’s voice! With any renovation work, you must remember to express your company’s brand through the design. Do not forget about the culture you have worked so hard to build in the first place.
So as you consider all of these new requirements to follow before your employees come back to work, don’t let them get in the way of your company’s culture.
Forgetting to include company branding and values into your new design ideas can lead to: new spaces you’ve spent a lot of money to carefully redesign that don’t reflect your organizational values, confused clients (or anyone who enters the office), and employees losing motivation or sight of what the company holds as the utmost importance.
5. Professional. Cleaning. Service.
Need we say more? No, but here goes. For the sake of employee health, both physically and mentally, maintaining a clean environment in the office should always remain a top priority for businesses at any stage. Clutter can be distracting to employees and very off-putting to clients, and dust & grime even more so.
As employees are welcomed back into their offices, they should feel safe and confident that proper steps are being taken to keep everyone healthy. Consider hiring a professional cleaning service to maintain levels of cleanliness that comply with CDC guidelines.
Employees won’t be distracted from their work because they are concerned or anxious about staying safe at work, and employers can feel good knowing the office is being looked after and that employees are focused on work. A professional cleaning service will lead to the whole office feeling more at ease and get back to being productive in this “new normal.”
Don’t let your office renovations overwhelm you, and don’t let CDC guidelines add extra pressure.With the right guidance through your office redesign, you can move forward with confidence knowing that you will have a design that represents your company’s vision and needs, while complying with CDC guidelines, for a safe and productive work environment.
Jennifer Gaggion, Interior Design Principal of Design Your Monday!, is a member of the CTmrg Service Team and the Organizing Committee for the upcoming CTmrg/Manufacturers Only Workforce Summit. CTmrg is dedicated to combining resources to help build the strongest possible manufacturing environment.
Additional information is available on our Covid-19 Resources page.