Post-COVID era: How to plan the return to the office?

post-COVID era: How to plan the return to the offices?
post-COVID era: How to plan the return to the offices?

We know that the arrival of the “new normal” comes with many changes and challenges for people both in their daily lives and in their work spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an event that has come to transform the way in which we carry out our activities in our day-to-day life and for this reason various measures have had to be considered so that we can gradually return to our office without this pose a danger to our health and that of others.

Ruben Bran, commercial manager of the foreign area at PM Steele, a company that provides consultancies throughout the country for the configuration of office spaces in the post-COVID era, comments in an interview with Entrepreneur in Spanish that the two main challenges that Perceived for employees in the return to the new normal are: overcoming the fear of infection and providing security and confidence so that people can perform and be productive.

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“Being afraid is something very normal and it will happen everywhere, it is the first thing that people will express; however, we must get used to it and move on because this is not going to go away overnight, “he said.

Regarding the way in which the return to the offices will be made to guarantee the safety of all collaborators, the specialist added that two stages or scenarios should be considered.

First stage: preventive measures for the return
The first stage consists of returning, as is, to the offices as they were before the health emergency and carrying out all the pertinent sanitization measures. You should start thinking about the configuration and conditioning of the spaces and for this, the use of protection screens will be essential. This system consists of the installation of vertical protections that are covered on the floor and help to create gaps between each of the users. They are made with materials such as acrylic and glass, as they are easy to clean and allow visibility from the inside out and vice versa.

In the same way, you will have to make a visualization of the number of people who will be able to return to the office and based on that number, alternate the days in which they work in person. There should only be a percentage between 30 and 50 percent of the collaborators per shift.

Within the office, the accommodation will also be alternated, that is, in a space made for four people, there may only be two and they should never be accommodated face to face: “the healthy distance will be mandatory by federal regulations and according to the guidelines of health we must respect the 1.5 meters of distance between each user ”.

Also, within the measures to prevent contagions and crowds, Bran commented on the importance of avoiding conversations in the corridors, moving outside the assigned work place as few times as possible and creating traffic zones in the sense of the hands of the clock. watch, as indicated by the Ministry of Health to avoid face-to-face meetings between staff.

To avoid contact with surfaces, he recommends leaving as many doors open as possible, including those leading to the toilets.

Similarly, it will be important to have signs that indicate both the sense of mobility of the staff, as well as the areas where employees can find antibacterial gel and sanitation utensils that the company must provide.

Second stage: the total reconfiguration of space

As for the second stage, we think of a total reconfiguration of the office, that is, the desks should be moved, think of new furniture that allows there to be more space between one collaborator and the other (1.5 meters apart as minimum) and the conditioning of open-air meeting rooms.

It is important to take into account that whatever the activity to be carried out, mobile partitions are highly necessary to protect the sides and front of where a person sits, without losing sight of the user’s comfort.

On the other hand, Bran stressed that the use of vegetation inside the offices will be very useful, as he mentions that it is proven that including plants in the decoration transmits tranquility and peace, in addition to improving air quality.

Other considerations to take into account
The face masks, masks, sanitary mats and antibacterial gel from the main entrance to the apartments are other supplies that we must not lose sight of. Placing all these things within reach of the collaborator minimizes the risk of contagion significantly.

“The objective we have to achieve is that the person is working calmly, without fear of contagion because then not even at work will he concentrate, that will be another issue that we will have to work on. Prevent the well-being of workers from being compromised in order to build trust and avoid low productivity, ”added the commercial manager. “The companies that succeed will be those that adapt better to these changes and that invest in environments focused on well-being.”

Regarding the support that companies must provide to employees who suffer from a condition that makes them high-risk people, they will continue to be allowed to work via the home office.

On the other hand, it will be vitally important to have filters at the entrances to measure the temperature and check that no one arrives with any symptoms that may indicate a risk of contagion. If so, Social Security will be sent to take the corresponding tests. The specialist added that any collaborator who is infected must receive all the necessary support from the company for their recovery and in the same way, it is expected that the staff will be able to raise their voices in time in case of presenting or knowing of someone who presents a symptom.

To avoid misunderstandings and ensure that the measures are followed to the letter by all staff, the Human Resources department of the companies plays an important role in informing and training employees in everything related to this new work system. Bran even mentioned the importance of providing psychological help to overcome the fear of returning to the office.

Finally, the specialist commented that it is difficult to estimate how large the investment will be that companies will have to make, since aspects such as their size have to be taken into account. However, it calculates that in the case of medium and large companies, they will be investments of 100,000 pesos upwards, while for small companies it could be an investment of around 50,000 pesos.

Clearly the total reconfiguration of the office represents a great challenge and a great investment, to which Fernando Núñez, deputy director of Human Resources at PM Steele, says that “business reinvention cannot be postponed. It is time for leaders to analyze the adaptation of their offices, optimizing the furniture they already have and investing in the infrastructure that the new normal is demanding. This may seem like an expense, but it is more of an investment in health. ”


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