As employers adapt to evolving guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, office interior designers are also working to transform spaces to post-pandemic needs.
“Because COVID-19 spreads through close contact, most work areas need to be modified,” said Samantha Kobe of DBI in Lansing. “We must be flexible and proactive.”
Current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include arranging desks at least 6 feet apart, staggering work breaks, making more tasks contactless and opting for virtual meetings.
“The primary question I receive is people wanting to know how they can better protect both employees and visitors,” said Jim Baker, president of Innovare, formerly Corporate Office Interiors in Lansing. “The best answer is to have physical barriers in place. A physical barrier not only provides a visual reminder of social distancing guidelines, but it also helps reduce aerosol and droplet transmission following a sneeze or loud speech.
“Each business is going to have unique circumstances to address in a reopening phase,” Baker continued. “I believe the No. 1 priority for most employers is the health of their employees, and they will take whatever actions they need to make sure everyone is safe before they come back to work.”
Kobe said the key to ensuring employee and customer safety isn’t just about having a plan — it’s about educating employees and customers on the protocols, and then enforcing them.
“We cannot fail to stress how critical it is to have a safety plan in place and a clear communication strategy to ensure your staff and customers understand their role in mitigating COVID-related risks,” Kobe said.
“Our world may have changed quickly,” she added, “but our agility, resilience and collaborative spirit did not. We have only grown stronger together.”