There is no doubt that COVID-19 has upended our lives in general—disrupting our routines, affecting our jobs and businesses. The global pandemic has altered how and where we work, making us rethink the future of office spaces. With our current situation, the way we design workspaces will never be the same again. COVID-19 has created the need for a faster than anticipated transformation for our workspaces; one that shall ensure a safe and efficient work environment for employees returning to work amid the pandemic. At the end of the day, we must adapt and roll in with the punches to thrive in the post COVID-19 world.
While the pandemic has posed a challenge for everyone to adapt to the new normal, the role of the office environment is more important than ever.
Here are five key features of the workplace amid COVID-19:
1. Well-implemented Social Distancing Protocols
COVID-19 safety measures require greater physical separation in workplaces via spatial means. To ensure proper distancing between co-workers, workstations should be spaced further apart. Sensible strategies include putting up barriers, moving desks apart, and decreasing chairs. Seating arrangements should also be spaced accordingly, making sure that employees are avoiding close contact. The same measures apply to conference rooms as meetings shall be limited in the number of participants, duration, and proximity. Most importantly, physical distancing should be observed at all times—even in elevators, cafeterias, and restrooms.
2. Enhanced Disinfection Efforts
The key to maintaining a safe and healthy workplace is to implement regular cleaning schedules and enhanced sanitation measures. If feasible, business owners can also invest in automated systems like motion-sensor doors and faucets. We want to avoid touching potentially unclean surfaces as much as possible, especially for offices in cities like Makati that rely on public transportation. By eliminating the need to touch surfaces, members and guests will feel more comfortable getting in our offices.
3. Installation of Sanitation Facilities
To make people feel more secure, offices are highly encouraged to equip certain areas of the workplace with sanitation products such as hands-free soap dispensers, complimentary face masks and paper tissues, disinfecting mats, and automatic hand sanitizers.
4. Improved Workstation Designs
There are alternative ways to reinvent serviced office layouts in order to make physical distancing feel more comfortable. Adding new elements to workstations like glass is one option. Conference rooms can also be redesigned to create a more flexible working environment. If your office has narrow hallways, you can turn some of them into one-way only corridors if possible. In preparation for future disruptions similar to COVID-19, we will need to future-proof our offices with adaptable furniture, antimicrobial appliances, and technology that limit touching.
5. Display of Signages and Reminders
One of the best ways to properly maintain safety protocols is to set up visual aids. Display posters about proper handwashing procedures and measures on how to reduce the risk of virus in visible areas of the workplace to raise awareness. Floor stickers are also effective to ensure that everyone is keeping proper social distance. For one-way entry and exit points, clear signages and markings are vital. Apart from floor decals, you may also opt for directional arrows displayed eye-level at the walls or doors of the office.
As we adjust and reconfigure serviced offices to cater to the post COVID-19 environment and ensure a safe workplace for our members, we have started to implement temporary changes that will secure the safety of our members. Here’s how we made our office spaces safe and secure during the pandemic:
Watch Our Video: How we are making our offices safe
1. Health and sanitation protocols upon entry
Everyone will be subject to health and sanitation procedures before entering our premises. There are sanitizing footbath mats ready at the entrance to disinfect footwear and body temperature will be checked upon entry. Everyone will also be required to answer the DOH Health Checklist first before finally being granted access to our office spaces.
2. Regular disinfection of common touch points
We established new protocols and amplified cleaning schedules to make sure that high-touch surfaces and common areas are sanitized regularly. Our disinfection and sanitation efforts focus on workstations, countertops, and door handles, among others. If necessary, there will also be immediate COVID-19 disinfection provided for objects or corners in the workplace that may likely be touched or visited by a person who is suspected or confirmed to have the virus.
3. Contactless hand sanitizers in common areas
Automatic hand sanitizers are located at entry and exit points, as well as other common areas. We have utilized some of the desks and corners in our office spaces as hand sanitation stations to help promote proper hygiene and most importantly, reduce the risk of infection among co-workers.
4. Visual sanitation reminders and signages
We posted signs and reminders in prominent places around the workplace to increase awareness and help our community observe proper health protocols. Some of the signages we displayed include COVID-19 hotlines, proper handwashing procedures, guidelines for occupying meeting rooms and other common areas, safety measures for using appliances, and instructions on how to use RFIDs safely, among others.
5. Proper observation and implementation of social distancing protocols
We have implemented movement restrictions and physical distancing measures to ensure minimal physical contact within the workplace. We have also established safety protocols in accordance with health and safety guidelines. Two-meter distance between workstations and seats in common areas are properly observed to avoid close contact between co-workers. As the national and local governments continuously implement new health guidelines for the public, our community assures to follow the standards to create a safe space for our members and clients.
The changes in the work environment may feel strange at first, with co-workers separated by partitions and avoiding physical contact. “New normal” can mean differently in a lot of ways for all of us, but we know for sure that the pandemic has changed the workplace forever. The challenge ahead of us is to make our work environments even better than before. These enhancements are ever-evolving, keeping pace with changing health guidelines as well as member needs. But one thing remains a constant at ARCH Serviced Offices: We are focused on providing you with a safe and secure office space so you can continue to create your best work. As we continuously reinvent office spaces for the better, we aim to ensure a safe working environment and improved level of wellbeing for our members.