To be in compliance post COVID-19, changes in general maintenance of commercial buildings will be necessary. Here are some strategies.
Bringing people back into the office after COVID-19 is a concern for many business owners, commercial real estate owners, and facilities managers. The social distancing rule of six feet between people has made workspace that was once ideal, because it was conducive to many people working in a communal area, suddenly obsolete. According to Janet Pogue-McLaurin,¹ the Gensler global workplace practice areas leader, “Densification in the workplace will take a hiatus.”
Not all companies have the option of moving to a larger facility to allow for safe distancing between their employees. Property owners are pressed to adapt to the needs of tenants who now need more space or a major redesign to continue functioning at full capacity. At the same time, the idea of a huge investment in permanent changes that may not still be necessary a few years down the line, is not popular with anyone.
To get up to code with distancing requirements in conventional office spaces, many have come to realize that some form of post-COVID remodeling of their buildings is necessary. To remain in compliance and keep employees healthy, changes in general maintenance procedures are in order, as well.
Here are a few strategies businesses are using to invite employees to safely return to work.
Furniture and Room Reconfiguration
To maintain six feet of distance between workers, business owners are getting creative with room configurations. For example, one-way traffic throughout a building reduces congestion and keeps workers from having to come into close contact because they must cross each other in a hallway. This can be accomplished by moving partitions and furniture around, adding doorways, or removing some doors. Reminders such as arrow signs and social distancing suggestions help staff remember to keep a safe distance.
Wide-open spaces and massive conference rooms that seat dozens of people are no longer practical. Rooms that contain less furniture are becoming the norm as desks must be spaced six feet apart. Workstations can be fragmented rather than lined up closely together. Smaller conference rooms that accommodate fewer people are a good option as are conference tables with half as many chairs spaced out enough to allow for safe distancing.
Technological advances can help make post-COVID staff safety easier to maintain.
Touchless, Sensor-Activated Doors
If you have a large number of employees coming into work or if your business is open to the public, the use of sensor-activated doors is one of the first adjustments to consider making. Internally, even for smaller businesses, it is best if employees do not have to press a button to open a door. Limiting exposure to surfaces will ensure you are taking the needed steps to create a safer environment.
Automated Temperature Scanners
The addition of a non-invasive, contactless temperature scanning system can help keep employees and visitors safe. Results are generated quickly and no-touch interaction is required to reduce infection risk. Health and Human Services (HHS) have adopted health disclosure guidelines during health emergencies to ensure important discreet disclosures for businesses without violating HIPAA. These guidelines allow employers to monitor potential infection through temperature screening.
Safe Elevator Use
Reducing touchpoints in elevators lets riders use keys instead of their fingers for control. Voice-activated elevators are an even better option. Elevator floors marked for safe distancing are the next best thing to single passenger elevators.
Necessary Workplace Maintenance
Air quality inside a workspace has never been so important as it is right now. The EPA recommends that air filtration systems that can remove viruses be installed. To maintain air that is safe for employees to breathe while working, new HVAC filters have come on the market that are proven to clean recirculated air.
As new standards and requirements concerning maintaining a place of business are put in place post-COVID, the CDC has published guidelines for properly cleaning and disinfecting a facility. Automated vacuuming systems and personal protective equipment for those in charge of cleaning are strongly advised. Some companies may install UV-lighting to disinfect offices and meeting rooms at night.
Post COVID-19 Remodeling
For office areas to function better post-COVID, most businesses are looking at altering workspace by either adding square footage, changing floor plans, or installing automated systems. Whereas the recent trend had been leaning toward more and more densification within buildings, designers are now focusing away from open office configurations that allowed for team-based work and space efficiency. Smaller rooms, individual offices, and solid partitions are now filling that space.
To see how your business can move ahead post COVID-19, contact a reliable commercial remodeling company. Your contractor will help you assess your renovation needs and handle all the logistics related to a building remodel. All structural, design, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing issues will be considered according to post-COVID guidelines. Together you can set a realistic budget that allows for any unexpected situations.
Experienced contractors can help you make the best use of available space to keep your workforce healthy.