How To Make Your Office Layout Safer
Tenants will need to get back to the office in the coming months, but a vaccine will not be ready by then. How can tenants make their office space safer for their employees when they return? We dive into a process of how to make your space safer. The short answer is that every situation will be unique, but having the right process and tools will ensure tenants can protect their employees when they return to work.
Right now there is no legislated or agreed upon office safety standard, but we do know that there are ways to make your office safer. Social distancing, touch-free processes, and high standards of sanitation reduce your risk. Cushman & Wakefield has proposed Safe Six, a 6-foot-centric office model. Although we are certain this will be improved on, it's a good starting point.
Your first step needs to be estimating your staffing and operational requirements. How many employees will be working for the office? Will they need to be in full time or part time? From an operational point of view, do you need meeting rooms, conference rooms, and private offices? That large boardroom might not be as useful in a time when you can only fit 6 people into it. Furthermore, what are your financial restriction and leasehold considerations. How long you have remaining in an office will impact how likely you are to invest more TI into it.
Build your office as it is. Your model could be as simple as a hand drawing, or as complex as an Auto-CAD file. The goal is to visualize your office space as it is today. Whichever tool you use to model your space, you should make sure that you are able to easily and quickly make changes to it while maintaining accuracy.
Begin to add, delete, or move furniture around the office. Are you able to maintain 6 foot distance for your workstations? Can staff move around the office freely without bottlenecks? If you work in shifts, can you keep more furniture? Many of these questions will require an iterative approach. So make sure you have tools that enable you to change your space quickly. At the end, you should be able to answer: what is the change in our space needs? You may realize that you need more space, less space, or simply to reconfigure your space.
Use your model to move forward in making your office safe. Use it to market your space if you need to sublease part of it. Use it to show brokers how much more space you are looking for. Or use it to socialize the layout with your colleagues to see if they have more changes. Ultimately, this model will become your living document as you transition to a return to work phase.
Not only will you need to change your office’s physical footprint, but you will also need to review your company’s processes. Do you allow employees to sit in groups at lunch, or hold conference meetings in-person? Will you assign a schedule for different teams to work from home or office? Will you need to increase your cleaning budget for more thorough daily cleanings? All of these processes need to be reviewed to ensure that they support your safer space initiatives.