Breaking the taboo: How an office can still function as a safe workplace

by Thom van Wijk

Slowly but surely, circumstances allow us to go to the office at an appropriate distance. The future of where we work will remain uncertain for now, but we know it will be a combination of working from home, in the office and elsewhere. But how safe is working at the office and is there a new role for the office?

Measures & collaboration for a safe office

Even though we are all recommended to work at home as much as possible, and most people do so, in reality it is necessary for many people to be in the office once in a while. At home, they might have unreliable internet or it may be difficult to focus because children are being home-schooled or want to play in the background. So, here are a few tools to make sure that you, as a employer or employee, take all the necessary precautions if you decide to spend some time in the office.

Create a floor plan

When selecting an office, the standard rule is to assume 6 m2 net per person. Normally 4 people can work in an office of 24 m2. In most standard rectangular offices it is now possible – with the 1.5 meter social distance – to work with a maximum of 3 people at a time. This is because you can assume ⅔ of the capacity of your current office.

Tip: Make a floor plan of your office and calculate where the desks can be placed at a distance of 1.5 meter. This can also be done with a free tool like Floorplanner.

Create a work schedule

As said before, we notice that (symptom-free) people still want to come to the office from time to time. Using an online registration schedule where everyone can indicate when they would like to work in the office is an easy solution for that. It is a creative, but also a safe way to be able to do that one consultation without too many calls back and forth. 

Tip: Copy our who’s-working-when in the office schedule and share it with your colleagues!

Other measures for a safe office

All locations of ScaleHub Offices are spacious. Since the beginning of COVID-19, all ScaleHub offices have been equipped with all the hygienic measures necessary to work in a safe environment. Automatic alcohol dispensers are mounted at all entrances and instructions and arrows guide everyone through the building.

We have also noticed that booking a spacious meeting room for half a day or a full day is increasing. We see this is also being handled very responsibly. Besides, our break-out rooms also provide a spacious environment for one or two colleagues after a meeting.

Air conditioning and filters

All ScaleHub offices are equipped with air conditioning via cooling. This means that every minute an x number of cubic meters is extracted and fresh air is blown in from outside. These are two separate systems, so there is no recirculation (blowing old air around), which is important in these times.

Each office space is fitted with its own air grille containing an air filter. These are there to prevent dust particles from entering the room to be conditioned, but also to prevent the air treatment system and air ducts from becoming dirty. At all ScaleHub locations, the filters have been replaced this year in order to ensure the best air quality.

Cleaning and hygiene

The cleaning team of ScaleHub Offices are making extra shifts. They also pay extra attention to all surfaces that are frequently touched, such as door knobs and handles in the kitchens. In addition, all meeting rooms are equipped with the latest skincare line from Marie-Stella-Maris. It is a hand sanitizer that cleans and cares well without the use of water.

Tip: A tidy desk helps cleaners enormously. An extra reason to reintroduce the clean-desk policy!

Focus and motivation

Last but not least: a change of scenery can compensate for what you cannot find at home: a neutral location without distractions that brings peace and concentration to work. Focused deep-thinking can be a luxury for some at this point in time. So make clear working appointments with your colleagues.

All ScaleHub Offices we do not only have meeting rooms, but also concentration booths, where you can get work done alone and completely closed off.

In conclusion: the upcoming period

We see that many companies are juggling with the purpose and work planning at their current office, or even their workplace design. Do we need to take action now, or do we have to wait? Do we need more or less square meters? Will everyone go back to the office or is working from home the new standard? Or will the office become a facility where you can just carry out teamwork?

At the beginning of this period, in spring, we experienced that work is primarily something we do and not necessarily a place that we go to. Now, we are learning that this matter is not black and white, and differs from company to company and from person to person. So the desire to achieve a good and flexible ‘mixed presence workplace’ is becoming all the more apparent.

More about this in our next item!