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Social Distancing in the Office

What can you do to create more space in the office?

Social Distancing in the Office

There was a time in the not too distant past when the term ‘social distancing’ would have been meaningless to most people. Now it’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue and has necessarily become a focal point for all human interaction. Regardless of the specific government regulations, we can be certain that social distancing in one way or another will be with us for some time. In a time when the advice was to ‘stay at home’, social distancing didn’t pose too much of an issue; retailers have adapted and implemented queuing systems and managed this by limiting the number of people allowed inside at any one time. The bigger challenge now is how to maintain social distancing in the wider workplace.

For sectors and companies that are heavily reliant on offices and having a team of people present, creating a social distanced office is a particular challenge. With high rents, particularly in London, offices have evolved to be very space-efficient, to facilitate team working and maximise the use of every last space. It’s of little surprise then, that creating a socially distant office is very unlikely to simply be a case of moving desks further apart and creating a queuing system for the coffee machine.

Working from home has often been cited as a potential solution to this problem. There are many articles that proclaim that this pandemic has caused a fundamental shift in working habits and will lead to the decline of the office. Whilst this may be true for some, there are some industries that are heavily reliant on the physical presence of a team in the office and while there is room for home working, it is not the ultimate solution nor the best way to drive the business forwards.

Hot desking has also become a buzz word over the past decade, driven by the above need to minimise unused office space. With the government advice now being to avoid the use of hot desking, the challenge is how to adapt the office for this new way of working.

There are of course solutions that are easy to implement very quickly to enable some sort of return to the office. These include things that many businesses have already adapted such as;

  • the use of face masks
  • an increase in the frequency and intensity of cleaning
  • the installation of Perspex screens
  • taping off of every other desk

Whilst these measures are helping to get people back into the office, these often create an environment that feels very ‘temporary’ and not necessarily conducive to productivity and team building.

One alternative, that’s far simpler than it seems, is to rethink the layout of the office. Rather than starting with what you have today, imagine the office as a blank canvas and plan it out according to how it would work for your business today. Actually, aside from the pandemic, this can be a very useful exercise generally. Offices often are the ideal size and layout when we first move in but over time with the gradual accumulation of furniture and equipment and increased employees, the current layout is often not one that we would design from the outset. Rethinking the layout could have a fundamental improvement on the way your current team works together too and just one example of how to create a positive outcome from the pandemic. You might just find that you can actually fit a lot more employees in, whilst creating a social distance compliant office at the same time.

When doing this exercise, it’s important not to be constrained by the current office furniture and practices. Take a step back and think how things would work in an ideal situation and re-evaluate. What equipment do you actually need to have in the office? What is the ideal flow of the office? Are the desks positioned to facilitate the type of work you do?

One of the outcomes of this is likely to be that you have too much furniture, equipment or files to implement your ideal solution. This however doesn’t need to be an obstacle.

One area that takes up a large amount of space and unsurprisingly is rarely used, is filing and storage cupboards. If this is true for your office then self-storage is a simple solution. Attic Self Storage have a by the box archiving service, you can simply label your boxes, we can arrange collection and secure storage at our facility until you next need them. At which point, just let us know and we will arrange for them to e brought back to you. This is a quick and easy way to potentially free up a significant amount of space quickly. You can read more about our archiving and document storage service here or call us on xxx for a quotation.

The same is often true for a lot office equipment. Perhaps your industry has evolved, practices have change and you no longer or rarely use certain equipment? Self-storage is a perfect solution here. Self-storage allows you to retain all of this equipment, have access whenever you need it but crucially means, it doesn’t have to take up valuable space in the office. Creating social distance in the workplace will mean that you need to really optimise every lasts space. Using self-storage is a very cost-efficient way to do this. Attic has a rang of units available from 10 square foot up to 500 square foot that are all individually alarmed and can be accessed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – that’s probably better access than you have in your office!

You may find that addressing the above creates enough space for you to rearrange the desks to create a social compliant office anyway. But should you still need to create some additional space then placing any excess desks and chairs into self-storage will mean that you can create additional space quickly, creating a social compliant office to which it is safe for employees to return. As self-storage is flexible, it’s a great place to start when rearranging the office. Whilst in the longer term you may decide to get rid of excess equipment or furniture, keeping it in the short term means that you can really access how the new office layout works in practice and make any adjustments before disposing or selling of any unnecessary desks or furniture only to find that you need to purchase new ones if something doesn’t quite work.

At Attic, we always put the customer at the heart of what we do and we would like to show you around our facilities to demonstrate how self-storage can provide a simple, easy and cost-effective solution. Our teams are trained to find the right space for your needs to save you money. You can take one of our virtual reality tours if you want to look now, get an instant quote online or contact us to arrange a visit or for help in deciding how much space you might need.