Back to the Office with Confidence

With so many concerns over safety and wellness, companies should focus on providing information and transparency, so their workforce returns with confidence. Things are different across geographies and for each company, so adapt your approach for what is best for your situation.

Director, Interior Architecture & Design, Marlyn Zucosky discussed her thoughts on getting workforces back to the office and how to instill confidence in companies’ plans on a recent Facebook Live event with the Princeton Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce.

What is the overall plan for back to the office?

The ultimate goal is to bring employees back to the office in the safest way possible. Timing consideration is important. What is advisable for an immediate response will differ from longer-term solutions, such as when companies approach the end of their lease or when there is a COVID-19 vaccine.

When companies began evaluating back-to-the-office plans, completely redesigning the workplace was considered. However, since so much is uncertain, it’s important to be strategic with action plans. Focus on flexibility, so as situations change, plans can be adapted.

What are specific things being done to keep teams safe?

Transparency is key to creating confidence in the return to work. People want to see maintenance teams cleaning so they know these spaces are being cared for. In addition to general transparency, wearing masks in the office and sanitization procedures, there are other strategies to consider.

Many firms are returning at a reduced capacity, around 20-25%. Plan out your seating, allowing space for circulation. You might also see alternating shifts of people going into the office, where the same teams are there on the same days.

If you have a typical office environment with assigned seating, employees may not go back to their same seat. Consider implementing a clean desk policy, where employees empty their desks and take everything with them when they’re done for the day.

How are office buildings handling concerns about COVID-19?

Circulation control is key to reduce contact in lobbies. Offices are going to designate an up stair and down stair to control traffic. In high-rise buildings in cities such as New York, many buildings are designating elevator operators for crowd control and to reduce contact with key pads. There will be limits on the number of people allowed in elevators, maybe two or three depending on the size of the elevator. With buildings mostly empty, now is the ideal time to replace bathroom fixtures with touchless entry. Most buildings are also adopting sanitation stations in their lobbies and by stairs and elevators, making them easy to spot and highly accessible.

More Resources

Our team has developed numerous resources for navigating re-entry post COVID-19 including healthy workplace/building assessment, healthy signage, retail & restaurant modifications and more. Check them out in the link below.