How do I prepare a Covid-19 safe space plan for my office?
You will need to review all workplace settings within your office to ensure a safe physical distancing is achieved using the government guidelines of 2 metres, or 'one metre plus' with risk mitigation where 2 metres is not viable. To ensure this is accurate and you also achieve the maximum available space you will require an expert AutoCAD technician to help you prepare space planning options. You will need to agree some principles including the maximum people / critical groups you require to be present in the office. Which spaces are to be included e.g. desks, meeting spaces, breakout areas etc – this decision may depend on the number of workstations you want to achieve.
Evaluate the layout of your workstations by determining if the height of your existing desk partitions limit transmission. Where employees are seated behind partitions of a sufficient height and using all the other recommended precautions, spread of infection through droplets may be greatly reduced. If you do not have any desk partitions another approach to achieve adequate social distancing is to stagger or ‘checkerboard’ the use of desks. Using this approach, identify open plan work spaces that are 2 metres (or '1 metre plus' with risk mitigation) apart. Note each of these as single occupancy. All shared equipment should be removed and desks should be allocated to individuals on a pre-booked basis allowing for scheduled cleaning to take place between visits. Under no circumstances should workstations be used by multiple employees without cleaning taking place between occupations.
Identify enclosed spaces that can be allocated to individuals without modifications to the physical space e.g. offices, conference rooms, phone booths (with doors) – all of which can become workspaces for one person. Visitors should not be allowed in to the space and employees should not stand in doorways to talk to colleagues.
Other Enclosed Spaces (e.g. soft seating)
These can become spaces for individuals if needed by relocating a workstation or table, but ensure the ventilation is set up for office occupancy (i.e. storage rooms may not have adequate air circulation).
Open Collaborative Spaces
Each of these should be counted as single occupancy unless they can accommodate a 2 metre (or '1 metre plus' with risk mitigation) separation.
Meeting Rooms Greater than 5 Seats
Evaluate the occupancy of each room and maintaining a 2 metre (or '1 metre plus' with risk mitigation) separation to determine maximum capacity. A good rule of thumb is to remove 50-60% of the chairs from meetings rooms. Record the occupancy of the rooms after the new space plan has been agreed and change the capacity in your meeting room booking system and issue new room capacity diagrams to staff. It is important to remove the excess chairs from these conference rooms to help educate the workforce on the new capacity limitations. Consider taking a small number of meeting rooms offline to house chairs from workstations and meeting rooms which cannot be used to discourage any confusion.
Break / Café Capacity
Based on the phasing of employees returning to the workplace you’ll need to decide on the appropriate time to re-open the break out areas, cafes and restaurants. Using the social distancing 2m separation between occupants, identify seating that can maintain the required separation. For these spaces specifically, you may consider moving loose furniture to within the overall space to maximize single occupancy (i.e. chairs take up a lot of space and once you remove a portion of the inventory, you may find a more efficient layout of the room. Use tape or specific printed stickers on the floor to identify queues for the coffee machines, microwaves and refrigerators to help your employees understand the correct distancing as they wait to use appliances.
This webinar and Q&A document reflects our professional opinion of the factors impacting workplace transition in the context of our role as workplace specialists. It does not constitute formal advice and we recommend engagement with specialists, including your own internal or external health and safety advisors, if you are transitioning your workplace to a 'Covid secure' standard. Please also note that the Q&A contains responses to specific questions which therefore may not be appropriate for all types of businesses or workspaces. The spread of COVID-19 and the containment policies being introduced are changing rapidly, and some of the views expressed herein may not reflect the latest opinion of Avison Young. We strongly recommend that you continue to monitor the relevant UK Government advice, and any supplementary local advice. These sources provide regularly updated information on the COVID-19 outbreak: World Health Organization, Government of Canada, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UK Government, Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Case Tracker.