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How to Reconfigure Your Office to Keep Employees & Customers Safe

Count on Office Furniture Expo for Used Office Furniture Services

A lot changed in 2020. The way many companies operated had to be shifted on a dime due to COVID-19. Many businesses had to allow their employees to work from home and had to close their office spaces at least temporarily. As the Atlanta, GA leader in used office furniture, Office Furniture Expo wants to help your business succeed in this changing culture. Many companies still have employees working remotely, while others have re-opened their offices. It’s crucial to understand how to reconfigure your office to keep your employees, clients, and customers safe. In this day and age of social distancing, it’s essential to ensure that your office is a safe place for everyone. We’ll discuss how to best go about changing your company mindset about social customs, scheduling best practices, workplace design assessments and ideas, communications and training, safety protocols, seating arrangements and office organization, keeping your office clean, and upgrading your office furniture.

Changing Your Mindset About Social Customs

The days of hearty handshakes in the business world are at least temporarily over. In order to re-arrange your office, you’ll need to change your mindset about social customs. This change starts at the top and should be explained and reminded to company employees. If possible, implement a no visitor policy. Only authorized employees should be allowed into the office until things change. Encourage your employees to greet each other or customers without physical contact. That means no hugs or handshakes. Remind everyone about the six-foot rule of social distancing. This should be implemented into overall office design as well as meetings and other interactions. Encourage employees who are on the phone to stay seated at their desks. The simple act of talking loudly can spread droplets.

Scheduling Best Practices

You’ll need to become more flexible when it comes to scheduling. The good news is that with so many people working from home, flexibility is the new normal. Allow for flexible work hours or rotational shifts. This can ensure that fewer employees are in the office at any given time. Of course, this depends on the type of business you run and whether your workers interact with clients or customers. You can rotate employees to work from home while others are in the office. Staggered shifts can also help with social distancing.

Workplace Design Ideas

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It’s time to rethink the way your entire workplace is designed. This is easier in some types of businesses but more difficult in others. If you don’t or cannot have separate offices with doors for each employee, don’t fret. Open office spaces were popular in the 2000s but will no longer get the job done in 2020 and beyond. If your office utilizes cubicles, you can insert partitions to raise the wall heights. Many open offices had low or no cubicle walls in the past. This encouraged collaboration but also facilitated the spread of illnesses. You can add dividers to create a higher physical barrier between employees, which can reduce the spread of infectious droplets when someone coughs, talks, or sneezes. You’ll want to ensure your employees aren’t sitting too close together. Congested workplaces need to be reconfigured to allow for more space in between everyone. Consider using alternate desks if you have limited options.

Complete a Workplace Assessment

During these unprecedented times, many people and businesses have assessed how they operate. If you haven’t already, now’s a great time to take a step back and perform a workplace assessment. Perform some workplace research to learn what your employees think about working from home vs. working in the office. Break out the tape measure and see where you’re currently at in terms of social distancing. Run some numbers and figure out how many employees you need in the office at any given time and how you can best keep them six feet apart. Create a small team to help you, and you may be wise to get some outside help as well. Office Furniture Expo offers free consultations for custom furniture and workplace design in the Atlanta, GA area.

Considering Communication & Training

In the new normal way of doing business, you’ll undoubtedly need to reconsider conference rooms, communication, and training methods. Most conference rooms have employees sitting about a foot apart, and that’s no longer acceptable. Online communication and teleconferencing have become increasingly more popular. Communication is essential to remind your employees, customers, and clients about new protocols for their health and safety. Establish back to the office tours and instructions so everyone can get accustomed to the new way of doing business. Create professional documents with frequently asked questions and etiquette guides to stay safe at work. Assess whether meetings and trainings can be done over the phone or via video conferencing technology.

Putting Proper Safety Protocols in Place

Before anyone even enters your newly revamped office, you need safety protocols in place to make sure they aren’t sick with the flu or coronavirus. You’ll want to find an effective way to screen your employees as well as visitors, clients, and customers. You can use infrared fever scan systems to ensure people entering your building don’t have a fever. Have your employees and visitors self-screen and stay home if they are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu. Slow potential disease transmission by centralizing trash and recycling bins and having their contents frequently disposed of. Adopt a clean desk policy and make hand sanitizer readily available to all. If possible, install hands-free faucets, soap, and paper towel dispensers in restrooms. Automatic door openers that can be controlled by pushing the button with an elbow can also help. Encourage employees to wear masks or other personal protective equipment such as gloves. Make these available to employees and visitors at no cost to them.

Organizing Office Setups for Optimal Safety

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You have two options when it comes to reorganizing your current office setup: start fresh or make modifications to your existing floorplan. If you’re able to start from square one, begin with a floor plan that indicates all workstations to be occupied. You can determine your office’s maximum capacity per floor or wing this way. It’s best to have assigned seating during these challenging times. Ask all employees to remove their personal items from desktops and workstations nightly to ensure thorough and effective cleaning measures. While personal items can make employees feel more at home, now isn’t the time to feature those Beanie Babies collections.

Adding Partitions to Raise Cubicle Walls

One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways you can make your workplace safer is to add partitions in between cubicles to raise wall heights. In the early 2000s, open office layouts became very popular. They encouraged collaboration and allowed bosses to keep an eye on what their employees were up to. While this worked in some industries, other employees didn’t like the lack of privacy and trust that came along with it. The best course of action is to have individual offices for all employees, but in many cases, this is not practical without getting a new office or having major construction performed.

Re-arranging Common & Reception Areas

It’s time to rethink visitors. Many industries require customers or clients to visit their offices. Make any modifications you can to have this done remotely, but we all know that won’t always work. Start out by controlling access to your office using signage for phone-in entry. Place plexiglass sneeze guard screens at check-in points or the reception area. Reduce or re-arrange seating in reception areas to ensure they are all six feet apart. Temporarily remove magazines, pens, and other shared items from the reception or common areas, including break rooms. Keep several hand sanitizer dispensers on hand and in plain sight.

Housekeeping & Cleaning Tips

Disinfectant wipes and touchless hand sanitizers will be familiar sights in the new office setup. It may be challenging to maintain an adequate stock until the supply chain is able to catch up. Planning ahead is critical. Increase housekeeping and cleaning during the workday. For example, you may want to encourage all employees to take their lunch simultaneously so the office can be sanitized midday. Hire a cleaning crew or a dedicated employee to take care of the health and safety protocols each day. In the new office environment, there’s no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to keeping clean. 

Replace Your Office Furniture for Your Atlanta Business

There are many reasons to get new office furniture for your employees returning to the office. For one, it will increase morale, knowing that their old office furniture that may have been dirty or grimy is gone. New office furniture can also assist with re-arranging the office. Office Furniture Expo has everything you need, including chairs, desks, and panel systems. Contact us today to learn more and get your free office design consultation.

 

Written by : reachlocal

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