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Space Considerations for RTO

We are all a little anxious for things to get back to normal, but what exactly does normal mean after COVID?  For many Americans, returning to work means heading back to the same office, the same desk and the reconnecting with our workplace family.

It is true; we need to restart the economy.

As we prepare to return to office (RTO), we recognize things will be different. Managers and leaders are already busy addressing workplace improvements with the health and safety of their workforce being paramount. So what will our workplace look like after COVID?

Before COVID, personal workspace and close interactions with fellow workers was commonplace. Expect things to be different after COVID. Americans were quick to adopt socially distancing as a preventative measure against the virus and continue to find comfort in distancing. As experts continue to praise the impact social distancing has had on reducing the spread, it is likely people will have a heightened sense of their surroundings and personal boundaries.


How will these new distancing norms transition to the workplace? 

Knowing that a company’s success is highly dependent on the performance of employees, managers and leaders must be conscious of their employee’s physical and mental health. Ensuring employees feel safe and secure in their environment should be top of mind as we look forward to re-entering the workplace. Two things to ask:


  • Are work areas properly spaced?
  • Does the space offer adequate walls, screens and dividers?


Rethinking space should not be limited to work areas or cubicle environments, but also common areas including entrances, elevators, halls, time clocks, copy and supply areas, meeting space, break rooms and lunch areas. The intent of common areas is not for employees to spend an excessive amount of time in the space however, the areas do experience a high level of traffic and often provide for social interaction among employees.


Common areas are essential to business operations. Ensuring these areas provide a safe environment for employees is as important as providing individuals with safe workspace. Based on the purpose of each common area, the way the new social distancing norms are applied will likely look different. Here are ideas to consider for common areas:


  • Spread out seating in meeting rooms, break rooms and lunch areas; store extra tables and chairs
  • Apply directional signage in walkways
  • Reposition equipment to a safe distance
  • Identify safe distance guides in all areas


Reconfiguring space prior to employees returning to work will help ease anxiety and restore confidence. Employees will be able to focus their energy on the work at hand knowing you have their best interest in mind.

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