Planning Your Office Seating Chart With Social Distancing
If you haven't done so, you should set aside some time to review your office seating with an eye on keeping your team socially distanced. But what things should you do? Do you need to take radical steps, or are there other things that you can do to help everyone? Things don't have to be too tricky, but it all stems from maintaining the recommended six-foot distance. Here are steps to help you keep your team safe and socially distanced.
Importance Of Social Distancing
In the age of Covid, the importance of maintaining social distance should not be downplayed. This includes handshakes, hugs, and other social interactions that involve getting closer than the recommended six-foot distance. And while this is a good plan for outdoors, it is even more critical indoors. To this end, making sure that your employees can maintain this social distance while working is essential in preventing the rapid spread of Covid amongst your team. It is necessary to evaluate the space you have, work through the number of people who can be in the various areas you have, and potentially add more office space if you can. This is another thing that you can do for your team's health, just like health insurance and having a clean office space do the same things.
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Consider Occupancy Versus Employees
When you are reviewing your office space, the standard occupancy rates used to apply are far too condensed for proper Covid social distancing. You will need to evaluate each area to see how your team is situated currently. Perhaps you already have enough space between team members, which is excellent, but you might be surprised at how closely you have your team. If that is the case, then it's vital to go desk by desk to ensure that people have a minimum six-foot distance from each other while at their desks. You may also want to widen higher traffic areas, and you may want to implement some one-way trafficking in your office where it makes sense. Signage is also a good idea here to help remind your team of what is happening, and it is useful for any visitors that you may have at your office.
A Desking Concept
This is where you will have to do the most thinking about the right utilization of your space. When reviewing each area in your entire office, several things will be essential to keep in mind. First, those in the same department or on the same team should remain as together as possible, as the department/team's synergies are important to maintain as much as possible. It would be ideal if you tried to keep your group as close to their old "home" as possible. This breeds familiarity for everyone and where they can be found if they need to be found. You will need to make sure that your team can still have their personal space, and generally, you will want to ensure that collaboration can still occur amongst your team.
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Mandating Desking Guidelines And Utilization
While you don't like to dictate things with your team and your office, in this case, it is essential to do so to help maintain distancing and prevent the spread of Covid. It would be best to implement some guidelines for your team to be part of the solution in keeping distance. Some of these should include what bathrooms different team members should be using, which copy machine should be used, etc. Navigation of the office is important to let everyone know about, such as which routes are allowed, if there are one-way traffic areas, etc. The goal is using the path of least exposure. Also, how should team members collaborate effectively from a distance and updated occupancy levels for different areas, such as breakrooms, central areas, etc. Providing these to all team members, and having signs posted where needed, will help to have distancing maintained as much as possible.
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Delegating Seating With Covid In Mind
Perhaps your office once enjoyed the flexibility of having people sit where ever they would like. Some might choose to sit near a window, or they might decide to sit near a corner, or where ever they wanted to that day when they arrived. But today, with the specter of Covid, it may make sense to have assigned seating. And while your team may grumble a little at this change in their workspace, the goal is not only collaboration but also helping their peace of mind in taking steps to help prevent the spread of Covid. The fact is that you are doing this for the team, not as a punishment, and hopefully, it will only be temporary.
You may have team members that could do their jobs remotely from home. And you may have several people who are agreeable to doing this. If you have these takers, that helps them and you in several ways. They can stay at home, which helps prevent the spread, and it allows you more space for those who cannot work from home. Or, if your team can mostly be remote but need to be in the office from time to time, you could do a split of your team. One half will work remotely for a week while the other half will be in the office, then the next week, the halves rotate so that the home workers are now in the office, and the office members are at home. This allows your team to have more personal space while they are in the office. Another idea could be to stagger start times for your team members. This may help ease congestion in common areas throughout the day.
Taking measures to help provide social distancing for your team members is a smart thing to do. You will need to ask them to bear with you as the situation continues, but hopefully, this won't be a long-term solution. Adding signs in different areas for occupancy, letting everyone know what changes are being done and what is expected of them, and taking the time to properly space desks in your office space will all help to ensure that your office will not be the cause of an outbreak. And with these changes, you may discover some new bonuses to your business and how it operates as well.
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- Lisa Carden