Many governments, including that of the UK, are in the process of implementing new guidelines to permit a safe re-opening of the workplace. While uncertainty still exists, the current consensus is that social distancing rules may be required for 1-2 years minimum.
This 2m society will require companies to put systems in place that will support the maintenance of social distancing and ultimately keep their employees safe whilst supporting the business’ key activities and work processes.
Recently the UK government released a document to outline these challenges and provide guidelines for organisations and employees on how they can achieve a safe return to work. Here we outline several recommendations that will likely form the backbone of modern office settings and highlights how office management solutions such as GoBright can support this change.
How can you maintain social distancing in the workplace?
Social distancing may require a change to the capacity of a meeting space (as chairs are removed etc). Room capacity in GoBright can be amended, if the room layout has changed and resulted in a lower capacity (if chairs are removed for example) – this ensures when staff need to book a room, the rooms shown in the search results accurately reflect the number of people the room can support. This is important to avoid unsafe overcrowding in rooms.
Specific rooms can also be ‘closed’ to booking entirely if required. The panel outside the room can be set to sleep automatically during this closed period, ensuring power savings and offering a clear visual view that the room is unavailable (as no light is displayed).
Keeping 2m distance in many cases will require specific desks to be made unbookable. With pressure on remaining space, a booking system for desks becomes necessary.
Desks that remain in use can be given an availability status via GoBright’s Desk Connect. Employees can book desks in advance of commuting (via GoBright portal or mobile app), or whilst at the office. The check in feature will ensure desks are released automatically in the event of no shows.
It is possible to set desks as ‘closed’ (made non bookable) in GoBright, preventing them from being visible to those searching for a desk in the portal/mobile app. Closed desks are also invisible on the interactive map. This ensures no confusion during the booking process and guarantees provision of a safe space. Closed desks can be easily re-enabled as rules change.
While visitor numbers to office spaces are likely to be reduced, as visitors are able to join remotely, there will still be instances where onsite visitation may be required.
GoBright’s visitor management allows for elimination of traditional sign in process for visitors – speaking up visitor processing and eliminating risk of queues.
The pre-registration feature allows reception to see how many visitors are due to come in (if there is a policy on maximum number of daily visitors). Pre-registration also vastly reduces check in process, eliminating risk of queues, as details are already known.
To improve hygiene, touching the screen can be eliminated entirely, by the receptionist signing in the pre-registered visitor direct in the GoBright portal (receptionist’s PC). Alternatively, the organisation can use QR codes for visitors to reduce (but not eliminate) use of the screen (if unmanned reception).
Signing out can also be done via receptionist (if manned), or via QR code (if unmanned).
Minimising face to face working where possible
To comply with face to face guidance, it may be necessary to close off desks that directly face another ‘open’ desk. With GoBright, desks can be strategically ‘closed’ as to ensure that desks that are still available do not face each other. This also overcomes the need to physically reposition furniture or implement screens between spaces.
The below diagram highlights a suggested layout, with specific desks closed to booking to enforce this guidance:
Staggering arrival and departure times
To avoid the risk of overcrowding in certain areas of the building (e.g. entrances), it may be necessary for a organisation to issue guidance on specific arrival and departure times for staff.
GoBright permits room and desk spaces to be booked out specific dates/times. This allows staff to choose when they come in at their discretion, based on how busy the office is during a specific period. Alternatively, the organisation can set specific start/end times to groups employees.
Building/facilities managers can use occupancy data to monitor business days/or hours in office in real time, and issue guidance to employees on designated start/finish times accordingly.
Minimising use of touch-based devices in office
Room booking can be done via mobile app and GoBright portal (and Outlook plugin if room booking). Booking from map kiosk and booking from room touch screen can be temporarily disabled (and re-enabled as rules change). These screens can still be left on for display of availability information, but no longer require touch.
Room booking and desk booking can be done via mobile app and GoBright portal (and Outlook plugin if room booking). Booking from map kiosk and booking from room touch screen can be temporarily disabled (and re-enabled as rules change). These screens can still be left on for display of availability information, but no longer require touch.
Managing Occupancy levels to enable social distancing
Room occupancy levels should be amended to reflect the current maximum number the room can safely support. Employees searching for a room will now be shown only rooms that support their required numbers.
For Facilities Managers, understanding current and historical occupancy data is key to setting workplace advice. GoBright analytics can be used to monitor live or historical data on room desk use. This makes it possible to understand where the levels are currently, and any trends (busiest days/working hours).
First consideration should be closing desk spaces to ensure 2m distance between desks spaces remaining. This will immediately reduce capacity of building, ensuring overoccupancy is not possible. As desks would be booked in advance, staff numbers in the building are easily managed (as they won’t travel to the building if there is not a desk available beforehand).
Facilities managers can also monitor the effects of the changes in the GoBright analytics – where they can monitor occupancy rates. This data can then be used to adapt current workplace policies (such as a staff rota, or advice on who should be coming in, if the occupancy close to maximum for example).
Avoiding hot desking, or implementing cleaning routines between desk use
Hot desking can still be used safely, if hygiene protocols are in place. Desks that are booked for the day are viewable in the GoBright portal, allowing cleaning staff to monitor where desks have been used. To ensure there is a consistent window where cleaning can take place, it is advisable to allow fixed booking slots only (AM session, PM session, or All Day). Cleaning can then take place on desks between the AM and PM sessions, based on desks that were booked that day according to portal (so cleaning of desks unnecessarily is cut).
(Upcoming feature – 1st September) – Desk needs cleaning status, visible light indicates desk requires cleaning before it can be used again. This provides a visual (purple) indication of when a desk should/should not be used and allows for hot desks to be used dynamically (no fixed start/end times etc).
Avoiding transmission during meetings, such as avoiding sharing equipment or other objects
Within meeting spaces, a common challenge is minimizing common areas of touch (remote controls, on/off switch of display etc)
GoBright’s AV Room control allows for the automation of certain AV elements when a meeting starts/checked into (screens turning on automatically, setting to correct AV input etc). This not just cuts the amount of touch required, but also reduces the amount of equipment preparation time as these task become automated.
It is now more important than ever for organisations to put systems in place to support a safe return to work for there employees and we at VideoCentric firmly believe that GoBright offers the solution to do this.
For more information on how GoBright can help with the return to work contact us on:
Call: 0118 214 2300