Office work after Corona lock-down: new rules and measures
Corona office measures
The Corona pandemic has paralyzed the economy in many parts of the country. Many offices also saw limited or no work. Thanks to recent relaxations, however, the first are returning. If all goes well, there will be steadily more. However, this does not mean that offices will quickly return to the pre-pandemic routine. Office work will be different after the lock-down and offices should change too. This article reveals how to make your office fit for the transition period.
The minimum distance also applies in the office
You can use the SARS-CoV-2 occupational health and safety standards, among others, as a guide for the design of office workplaces and the additional rules that should apply in the office due to the pandemic. In them, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Social Affairs assumes that the Corona pandemic will pose a challenge to infection control at work over an extended period of time.”
The occupational health and safety standards recommend a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between employees. The Steelcase company goes a step further in its guide, Planning the Next Steps: The Covid-19 Workplace, recommending the placement of “workstations at least 2 meters apart.” It also identifies various features of modern office workplaces that become challenges when implementing protective measures:
- High density with reduced floor space per employee,
- open work environments that favor the spread of the virus,
- shared workspaces and communal areas such as company cafés,
- high mobility of employees within offices,
- Living room aesthetics in offices with furniture such as sofas and lounge seating areas.
Steelcase divides the recommended measures for the office protected from Corona temporally into immediate measures, measures in the near future and long-term measures.
Immediate actions include retrofitting office workstations with, for example, room dividers to physically distance them, a few desks rotated 90 degrees to allow colleagues to look in different directions, and visual cues to remind people to keep the minimum distance from furniture such as sofas.
Measures for the near future
In the near future, reconfigure workstations, the guide recommends. This means, for example, equipping the office with furniture that you can easily move to maintain minimum distances. Additionally, you should always think about disinfection when designing the office. Therefore, for new furniture, opt for smooth and easy-to-clean surfaces, as well as fabrics that wash well.
In the long term, Steelcase says it’s important to reinvent office workplaces, so to speak. This includes spaces that are easily adaptable to changing requirements and that you can easily downsize or upsize. Steelcase also recommends increased collaboration via video, as well as more non-contact solutions “controlled by voice or gesture”: for example, to open doors or adjust the height of desks. Both the number of video meetings and home office work should not fall back to pre-pandemic levels.
Ultimately, it is always a matter of two basic rules above all else
All the suggestions mentioned here can be assigned to two basic principles: Everyone in the office should maintain minimum distances, and you should establish or reinforce hygiene and virus protection rules.
Maintain minimum distances
Last but not least, measures to maintain minimum distances include smart wayfinding that makes it easy for employees to maintain the required distances. For example, you can equip narrow corridors with arrows to allow walking traffic on one side only. Alternatively, you can mark a larger corridor so that one side is accessible only in one direction and the other only in the other direction.
Establish or reinforce hygiene and virus protection rules
Reinforced hygiene rules in post-lockdown offices should include making cleaning wipes and disinfectant accessible to everyone throughout the office.
In addition, have the office cleaned at more frequent intervals and strictly monitor cleaning activities. Doorknobs and handrails in particular can be problematic and spread the virus quickly.
Copper tape can be helpful for doorknobs and other grip surfaces. The fact that copper has an antimicrobial effect and often significantly reduces dangerous germs has been scientifically confirmed several times.
You should re-plan your office for the post-Corona pandemic. Get inspiration for this on our website. Or simply contact us directly without obligation. Let’s work together to ensure safe offices where people enjoy working and stay healthy.