Perkins and Will, a global design practice and one of the world’s leading workspace design firms is helping clients across the world plan how they can safely return to working in office spaces.

The firm has produced guidance to support businesses with their transition back to the workplace, including design tips for social distancing in office spaces to keep employees safe and healthy.

To access the full guidance: Download Here

You can read more about Perkins and Will’s guidance in this Wired UK article- Click Here and listen to this LBC interview with Jack Pringle – Click Here

What must businesses consider as lockdown is eased?

What will be the ‘new normal’ for office workers when the UK returns to work?

Business guidance:

* Businesses need to be aware of the risks for employees at every step of the employee journey – the commute, building entry, elevators and stairs, and at workspaces

* Businesses should set a ‘maximum capacity’ for each floor, then gradually build to that capacity as new ways of working are tested

* A huge amount for businesses to think about – a phased return from remote working, physical distancing analysis, ensuring supplies of protective equipment, safety in cafes and other common areas, managing visitors and deliveries, and introducing new maintenance protocols.

The guidance shows:

* ‘Dynamic social distancing’ is the capacity to maintain safe social distancing while staff move around the office. ‘Static social distancing’ is safe seated or stationary occupation. Test plans show how both solutions can be achieved with team shifts and minimal furniture removal. 

* Static distancing will cut office capacity to about 40% of what it was before – Perkins and Will analysis shows a typical office for 126 people could be used by50 people with static distancing.

* Businesses should be prepared to provide face coverings to all employees and guests. Shaking hands with guests should be stopped.

* Hot-desking should stop completely due to risk of transmission. Where 2m social distancing cannot be maintained, mitigating measures are recommended, for example floor to ceiling screens or PPE, but these options won’t replace social distancing

* Return to work will be phased and should be voluntary. Businesses should expect more people to volunteer than they will have space to accommodate, but should allow for those not comfortable, or able, to return

* Clearly communicated distancing guidance and will be needed, including signage and floor markings to show circulation routes allowing for one-way walking around the office and 2m distancing.

* People could be asked to alternate weeks days in the office, e.g. Group A – Week 1, and Group B – Week 2. As businesses transition into future phases of return and government guidance is relaxed, non-overlapping shifts may be an option e.g. Group A – AM Shift or Day 1, and Group B – PM Shift or Day 2.

* It is important to consider the needs of differently-abled people – eg brail or audio cues on temporary signs, accessing narrow pathways for social distance, equal access to cleaning supplies and protective equipment

* People should not have personal deliveries such as internet shopping delivered to the office