Incorporating Social Distancing Into Office Interior Design

The coronavirus pandemic has brought various changes in daily living and the work environment. Today, activities that were considered normal such as an open plan layout now make anyone anxious. There�s an increase in consciousness regarding the promotion of wellness and work-life balance for employees. During these difficult times, there is a need to make adjustments during office interior design to make it comply with social distancing today.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing includes measures that limit the spread of COVID-19 by preventing chances of physical contact. Some of these measures include keeping a distance of about two meters between individuals, avoiding crowded places, and limiting social interaction including handshakes and hugs. Keeping such precautions at the back of your mind is important indoors where ventilation might increase chances of transmitting the virus.

Keeping social distancing in the office lowers the chances of spreading the virus and encourages the number of workers in the office at a given time. You have to enlist a professional interior designer to make the process easier with flexible options. A good idea is to consider a satellite office where to accommodate workers. Alternatively, it brings secured private offices nearer to the homes of your staff to eliminate commute times. 

Interior design for the new normal 

Wellness in interior design involves maintaining the health of the physical and psychological environment. The best team of interior decorators in Dubai understands this best practice to design an office with wellness in mind. This is an important obligation for the safety of staff, customers, and visitors. Change in the workplace is inevitable and should be long-lasting. This is because there�s uncertainty regarding when the pandemic is likely to be contained.

Interior design today puts into consideration that remote work is encouraged and some staff work in phases to encourage flexibility in the office. Working in shifts changes space usage in any working environment. The ideal office today reflects safety precautions including social distancing measures and cleanliness. 

What to expect 

Few people in large spaces 

Congregating or collaborative spaces have no use in the business world today. Large meeting rooms are now for just socially distanced gatherings with few people. Additionally, common spaces in the office such as break rooms and cafes have restricted entry or are prohibited from use. Other adjustments that are synonymous in office interior design today include signage to guide space restrictions and traffic patterns. 

Collective participation 

Limiting the spread of the virus is the responsibility of everyone. Employers should invest in office interior design to make the work environment match social distancing standards. However, the workers themselves must adopt social responsibility. Apart from waiting for a commercial cleaning service, wiping down surfaces frequently especially in common spaces is simple and easy. In fact, introducing buffer time is a good idea to allow air circulation and cleaning.�

Introducing buffer zones 

It is a good idea to consider limited personal space but more open spaces. The seating in your office should have buffer zones to encourage social distancing. This allows staff to meet physically and exchange ideas. For limited desk space, introduce cubbies and lockers for keeping personal items. Adopting technology is ideal in the conference rooms to hold formal meetings. The technology allows staff that attends your meetings to communicate with those online. Another idea is to consider walking meetings and improved use of outdoor space. 

Investing in new furniture

Your interior designer will recommend the most appropriate furniture to match your needs and budget. Outfitting your office with flexible furniture that is easy to clean allows staff to reconfigure workspaces. This allows matching the comfort, safety, and collaborative needs. A good idea is to consider the use of demountable partitions. These allow creating partial or full height barriers which are non-loading. The partitions are easy to disassemble or covert to different areas.  

Regular cleaning 

Workstations are some of the dirtiest and germ-ridden surfaces in an office. To keep safe during the pandemic, frequent cleaning and tidying up is very important. So, new sanitization measures are necessary to keep the workplace clean. A professional interior designer will recommend pieces of furniture with antimicrobial textiles and bleach-cleanable fabrics. These are durable options that are easy to sanitize without worrying about compromising their aesthetic appeal.�

Other aspects to encourage social distancing in your office includes:

  • Putting up signs to remind staff to stay two meters apart
  • Erecting screens  between customers and staff
  • Closing nonessential off areas 
  • Spacing out work stations, chairs, and desks
  • Encouraging use the stairs instead of the lift
  • Having only one person to access the coffee/fridge machine at a time
  • Limiting the duration of activity meetings 
  • Limiting access to the kitchen area
  • Having staff keep their items in a locker

Bottom line

Preparing your office post-COVID requires adjusting the work environment. With the help of a professional interior designer for assistance with various aspects including detailed personal surfaces and broader space division.

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