Office Social Distancing 2021
The pandemic has caused chaos and devastation to everyone. We must be prepared for what it may bring in 2021. Office Social Distancing is a minefield of advice, regulations and information.
We all hope we can get back to some normality soon but we need to take certain measures and put effort into actively keeping everyone as safe as possible. This includes your family, friends and people you work with.
For this reason, we have put together our Office Social Distancing Guide for 2021. This has been created to help you, and others you work with, to effectively and efficiently carry out social distancing within the office during 2021.
How Important is Social Distancing in the Office?
Keeping a safe and socially distanced office is extremely important! It is not just your staff and those who are directly in contact with each other at the office that are at risk. It is every one that may touch a door handle after them. Every person they share transport with, the people closest to them and the ones they love that are all at risk.
The office needs to be up to scratch with routines and social distancing.
This is why it is so important to make sure that your office is as safe as possible, not just for your staff but for everyone the employees and visitors will come into contact with.
Working from home is a great way of keeping your office low risk and preventing the spread of infection. However, this is not realistic for some companies. There are other options that are still available to those that need in-house staff though. Other options include ideas such as having staggered work weeks with people coming in on selected, alternate days to avoid having a full office and introducing later start times. These are just a few ways in which you could keep your office safe by lowering the traffic in and out of the office as well as on public transport.
Starting later will also reduce traffic and allow employees to miss the rush hour which is a happy bonus for them too. These are just some ways in which you can help lower the contact your employees have with others.
Having a staggered shift pattern throughout the week will lower the number of staff members within the office at one time and reduce contact even further. Reducing in-house staff is a good idea for those that can do so and makes social distancing much easier within the workplace.
Re-assigning Job Roles
Reassigning or sharing certain job roles (such as administrative and physical tasks) could also help with this as fewer people will be needed in the office at the same time. Reassigning tasks will also reduce the number of different people touching things such as the printer for example. It may also be a good idea to talk to your staff and make this transition as good and positive as possible for them.
Perhaps some have children and would like to be able to work around their care. Perhaps some find it easier to work from home and some may really need to get out and go to work at the office.
These are things you should consider when reassigning tasks and organising shifts, if possible, as it will keep your employees’ morale up.
Happy workers are more productive and it will also be nicer for them to be heard and shown that their needs are taken into consideration. As well as shifts and days in the office being staggered you could also, or alternatively in the cases where you need most of your staff within the office, do this with break times to further reduce the traffic in and out of the office, as well as outside and within communal areas.
The way in which you can create a safe and socially distanced office depends greatly on the space you have at hand. It also largely depends on the way your office can potentially be rearranged. If you have a large office space this will make it much easier for you.
Desk Dividers can be printed in any colour or with any image to provide extra shielding for employees sat at desks.
However, for those with smaller or more awkwardly shaped office spaces you may have to think outside of the box. If you can keep your desks at a safe distance and create a bubble for each employee this will be ideal.
It may be the case that you simply cannot have the usual number of employees in the office at one time. This is a situation where staggered shifts or getting employees to work from home could work best. Taping lines around desk areas to remind people of the distance they have to keep is a good idea. It can be easy to forget or misinterpret distances for some people.
Clear roller banners are another way of surrounding work areas,
If your staff must be in the office it would be a good idea to invest in some clear screens to surround their work areas. This way they (as well as others) are protected. But are not made to feel isolated and alone. A clear screen also allows people to not feel as caged in as a solid screen would. And can provide a more positive and open feeling for your staff as they can still see each other and communicate.
Storage space can be a blessing or a huge, space-wasting hindrance. In times such as these where you need to use your floor space as efficiently as possible. It may be time to rethink your bulky storage units.
Cupboards, drawers and cabinets will be taking up a lot of space within your office. If this is the case it may be a good idea to use an alternative method of storing your items.
Shelves could be a great idea as they are elevated and do not take up floor space. The disadvantage is that they do not tend to be as strong as a unit or cupboard. However, it may be wise to use shelving wherever possible for as many things as you can. This will help the office to free up the floor space.
Being more space-savvy with how you utilise the storage facilities you have is also worth considering and re-evaluating is necessary. This will be a positive benefit for the office. Even after all of the restrictions related to the pandemic have ended. As you will be left with a more organised and space-efficient office.
You may be sick of seeing signs for social distancing everywhere but they are important and people do notice them.
You can make them fun and creative!
Use images but keep them simple and clear just to give people that extra reminder to keep their distance. Perhaps a fun quote or a daily phrase or joke may get people to pay more attention to them and it also might brighten up their day a little bit at the same time.
It is really important to use signs and stickers in communal areas as this is where people may relax a bit and rules may slip their minds. Areas within the communal space such as the kitchen are of particular importance when it comes to signs and markers to keep people apart.
Window vinyl lettering can be printed and placed on walls to create reminders for your employees.
It is very easy for people to ignore or forget about restrictions for a second when reaching for something in a cupboard for example. This is why cupboards are a good place to put up signs as they are also usually at eye level for most people and cannot be easily missed.
Have a look at our posters, you can easily upload artwork and order A2 and A1 posters which are a good size for office social Distancing.
The placement of the signs should be easy to see, unavoidable is possible. Hand sanitising and cleaning products should also be readily available at all communal kitchen stations and other areas where people tend to congregate.
Floor Stickers and signage
It is also a good idea to set out taped lines and so on within these areas as well as your office. Footprint stickers in heavy traffic areas can work really well. Especially if you make them a little bit different and fun.
Some areas of the office will have a higher rate of traffic than others, for example, the printing station. These areas can be organised with footprint stickers or even a one-way system if possible. (If it makes logical sense for your office.)
One-way systems could work well for larger offices or well organised and carefully laid out smaller offices. This can prevent people from being cramped together or passing too closely.
Other areas of high traffic will include entrances. Hand sanitisers should be available at these points as well to make sure that your office is as safe and hygienic as possible for everyone there.
Take a look at the layout of your office and work out the maximum (and realistic) capacity it can take. Whilst still being able to properly socially distance.
Floorspace underneath a low hanging shelf, for example, would not count as usable floor space. Remove any furniture that is not needed to allow a more airy and open space.
This will not only allow more effective social distancing but will also feel less cramped for those within the space. It also reduces the number of surfaces to be touched. If you find the office is feeling cold and bare why not invest in some plants or other trinkets to cheer the place up?
Avoid things that many people will touch.
Pictures, posters or a lick of new coloured paint could all add to the atmosphere in a positive way.
Even printed canvasses are pretty cost-effective and can brighten up your office.
Clean, Clean, Clean!
Cleaning is not just for the cleaners! Make it easy for your employees to keep everything sanitary. You can do this by having sanitiser hand pumps in easily accessible places. Having an office cleaning box with sanitiser and cleaning products for employees is recommended. Not just for the cleaners..
It is a good idea to have a cleaning routine for the office. You can also make sure your employees carry hand sanitiser with them to keep them and others safe. If you set up a cleaning routine for the office you can rotate staff. Or even have a group cleaning time with each person in charge of a certain area.
It is important to have all cleaning routines carefully timed and organised within the office. Clear signs and posters with the routine written out clearly and simply will help make sure that it gets done correctly and thoroughly.
Cleaning is also proven to reduce stress so it has this added benefit to the office workers. You can even try to make it fun by including music!
Keep a Sense of Community
Make sure your employees and anyone visiting the office do not feel isolated or secluded. Put effort into keeping the place upbeat and friendly. The stickers and signs about social distance could be cheery and remind people that they can still converse and interact. Just not physically.
You could introduce little perks to keep the mood up such as coffee vouchers and so on. If you have people working from home do not let them feel lonely; keep in touch with your workers and let them know you are there for them. Check up on them as lockdowns can be extremely difficult for many people. Remind everyone to pay attention to their mental health and actively help them seek help if needed.
Create a chat group that is not just for work if you feel this is appropriate for your workplace. Everyone can keep each other updated and so on.
Social distancing is crucial in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. There are many ways to keep socially distanced within the office that can also help your staff feel happier during these difficult times. Always stay up to date with the latest news and restrictions and inform your staff. Make it very easy for everyone to follow the rules and be as happy as possible. Make sure to keep an eye on your employees’ mental and physical health. This is a particularly tough time for those suffering silently.
Social distancing should not mean that people feel isolated or alone! So, make sure your office avoids making staff feel this way and put extra effort into caring for everyone involved. Keep positive and keep safe!