How to avoid your co-workers, for the right reasons!

Author:  Brian Stanley AIA, NCARB

As businesses are starting to return from state mandated stay-at-home orders, employers are tasked with operating in a new normal that hinges on your employees limiting personal interactions.  This idea is contradictory to the collaborative spirit most offices have embraced, up until February 2020 that is.  This idea of a free flowing open-office consisting of 1-on-1 meeting spaces, group gathering spaces, and areas designed for more casual social interaction, is over.  As we have become more aware of our surroundings and personal space, these ideas now seem problematic. 

As you try to adapt your workflow and processes, don’t forget about your office layout.   

Here are five things to consider implementing within your office today.

  • Room Occupancy – As a guideline for the 6’ of social distancing, you could roughly figure 1 person could occupy a 12’x12’ office and maintain recommended guidelines.  Time to remove the visitor’s chairs for the time being.
  • Conference Rooms – These can be tricky because of the permanent nature of some tables.  Consider removing chairs and posting which occupant sits where, based on order of entry to the room. 
  • Kitchen / Break –   If your break room is not sized to support social distancing guidelines, consider closing the room and temporarily promoting an eat at your desk policy.  It might go without saying but discourage shareable food dishes and yes, that includes doughnuts.
  • Vestibule –   If your business is able and willing to accept visitors, have masks, hand sanitizer, and instructions for entry, clearly visible and available.
  • Corridors – If your office layout lends itself, you can consider a mandatory clock-wise (or counter clock-wise) office circulation pattern.  If not, you can consider limiting trips or planning your day as to minimize social interactions. 

As you can see, there is not a one-size fits all solution and many variables exist.  Architects are trained in how people experience and interact with the built environment and are available to provide consultation for your specific circumstance.  For additional resources, contact your local health authority for other ways to protect your office.

I hope these thoughts have been helpful.  If you’d like to discuss more permanent solutions or alterations to your office space, feel free to contact me at   

To download pdf, click here.

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