Many Facility Managers are also tasked with Space Planning, which is absolutely crucial to adjust in times of a global pandemic. By now, pretty much all of us have figured out the social distancing in the workplace. Simply less people coming in, designated walking paths, etc. Read more about this on this blog too. But have you adjusted your entire space planning? And how do you set up a space planning for future scenarios? In this blog, we'll give you our take on these questions.
The COVID-19 proof workplace
Like I said: most Facility Managers know what measures to put in place to increase safety of the space. But many of these Facility Managers also state that about 20% of the workers is still in the office, and they expect to increase that as per Q3 of 2021. What does that mean for your space planning in the meantime?
Even though you will have less people in the office, you still wants to minimize people crossing paths. Think about how people will navigate to and from their desk. How do they get there? Which elevators are they allowed to use? We've seen organizations where you enter through the main corridor, take 1 designated elevator that will take you up and at the end of the day you leave the building through a different elevator and a different exit point. Also, what if people go to the bathroom? If people need to cross paths, make sure that the paths are wide enough to allow social distancing still.
We are very used to the concept of sharing: sharing desks, sharing meeting rooms, etc. However, this may just be the number one factor to increase infection. I may come into the office for a meeting, use a meeting room and touch the table, chair and beamer. I may not feel sick but actually carry the virus. The person entering the room after me, touching the same table, chair and beamer is actually at risk. So, decreasing the shared amenities helps a lot with decreasing the risk of spreading the virus. How does this impact your space planning? The people that do come into the office should be designated in other areas. Is there enough space available? Will the meeting rooms become more static workplaces? These are very important questions to consider.
Why think about changes now?!
You may think: if we start seeing a different pattern by Q2, why would we make changes now? Well, to keep people safe, for one. But also, because maybe these changes will actually be the new norm. What if Teams meetings become more popular than meeting in real life? Do you really need all these meeting spaces, or will you keep using them as normal workspaces? As you are making changes today, try to anticipate on potential future needs. Because at the end of the day, that's what we're trying to do: adjust to the user's needs whilst keeping their safety in check. And that brings us to our final point…
Future space planning
As far as future space planning goes: many of us simply don't know what the workplace will look like a year from now so you don't actually know how you should adjust your space planning. But, we can think about potential scenarios and we would definitely encourage anybody to do that. The first step is to do research: what does your internal customer need in terms of space whenever things go back to normal? How often will they come into the office? Also, work with senior leadership to get their take on the same question. Then, you can start setting up different scenarios: one for 100% back to normal office space, one for 100% working from home and anything in between for example. Visualize potential floorplans. You may even have technology at hand to help you do that. Then at least, you'll have a plan ready when needed!
If you want to brainstorm about this, please feel free to drop us a line at email@example.com. If you want to learn more about Space Management & Planning in general, check out our online training program here.