The science is clear: maintaining at least 6 ft. (2 m.) of distance between people can help reduce coronavirus transmission. But how do you prevent your employees from falling back into their regular, non-distanced routines?
Make sure the safety changes you’ve made are clearly communicated to set employees up for success. Consider providing return-to-office training that includes expectations for social distancing (use our handy training guide). Posting signage around the office to reinforce your plans and keep social distancing top of mind. You can download our editable Office Safety Signage below.
Follow these steps to create a Socially Distanced Office Environment
STEP 1: Limit Office Capacity
The easiest way to enable social distancing is to reduce the number of people in the office. FEMA recommends one employee per 100-150 sq. ft. (30-50 sq. m) of office space. This means that for every 10,000 sq. ft. of office space, you should limit entry to 70-100 people.
Because every space is different, we recommend starting with one employee per 150 sq. ft (50 sq. m). You can use Worksphere’s capacity planning feature to set your maximum capacity level by office, floor, or zone. You can easily adjust up or down as conditions change. Worksphere automatically blocks your employees from reserving space once your preset capacity level is reached.
STEP 2: Focus on Entry Points
Think about the entire journey employees take to get from the building’s front door to their workstations. Identify potential problem areas and congestion points. Some common examples are elevators or areas where security or health screenings are being conducted.
Plan ahead by taking the following steps:
- Put up signs or create barriers to direct employees into an organized line. Set lines away from the flow of through traffic.
- Mark floor or wall with signs indicating six feet of separation.
- Remind employees of elevator maximum capacities with signage and encourage them to take the stairs if there is a line.
- Provide a spot for personal effects like coats and umbrellas at desks rather than using a communal space for these items.
- Reduce activity in areas where deliveries are received.
STEP 3: Reduce the Use of Gathering Spots
Every office has a few favorite hang-outs where people like to congregate. Consider how these areas are going to be used, and if they should be open for use. You may not need your kitchen, communal coffee machine, soft seating area or employee lounge during the initial phase of your return to office.
Set capacity limits or temporarily move to a set schedule for breaks to eliminate the potential for overcrowding.
Gathering around food is great for culture, but has some risks for social distancing. If your dining area is open for use, help employees maintain social distancing.
Plan ahead by taking the following steps:
- Space all tables a minimum of six feet apart from other seating.
- Replace larger communal tables with smaller options.
- Limit capacity by removing chairs.
- Eliminate bulk snacks or beverages, and replacing them with individually packaged options (recommended by the CDC ).
- For catered meals, clearly mark a one-way path through the serving area to eliminate traffic jams.
- Offer individually packaged meals to keep your buffet moving quickly.
- If you have a large office, consider staggered meal or break times to reduce congestion.
STEP 4: Organize Workspaces Strategically
The open floor plan was foundational for many offices built in the 21st century, but it may now be a thing of the past. Add physical barriers between workstations to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets. Call it the cubicle comeback!
If barriers are not an option, arrange desks so they are at least six feet apart. Avoid having employees face each other if possible
Create pods, or zones, that not only allow for social distancing, but also reduce the number of people each employee is in proximity to. This approach will help you maximize your space and also allow for better contact tracing should an employee test positive for the virus. Worksphere can make contact tracing as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, enabling you to contact at-risk employees immediately.
No matter how much work you do to prepare, ultimately, social distancing depends on the behavior of your team. Give them a friendly reminder by posting our editable signs throughout your office.