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Workplace Design and Consultancy

What will your new normal look like?

According to the Office for National Statistics, over 60% of people are worried about the future.

At Rap Interiors we have created a strategy that eliminates the worry and creates a safe and supportive environment for employees in your workplace design. We are here to assist businesses who are unsure of how to return to their workplace safely and need some guidance that suits them and not just provide a one-size-fits-all solution.

5 Step Workplace Design Strategy

This strategy is going to prepare you for the changes that you need to make to create a safe workplace design and we can guide you through this process. Taking each step one at a time, and exploring all options within your workspace analysis with our guidance is going to provide you with choice, solutions and support that you wouldn’t be able to achieve on your own.

1. Who is returning back to the office and who is working from home?

Carry out a Workplace Role Assessment with a Staff Survey

Bringing all of your staff back at once is an unlikely scenario that your workplace design won’t be able to cater for with it’s the existing layout. Therefore the number of people you bring back will depend on the capacity your workspace can accommodate social distancing guidelines.

Carrying out a workplace role assessment along with a staff survey will give you a great starting point by knowing the numbers in and out of the office.

Your employees are going to appreciate these efforts, that you are taking the current health pandemic seriously and so their response to how you have handled their return will be positively received.

Rap Interiors' Kent office designers Rap Interiors' Kent office designers
the rap interiors design team discussing a fit out project with a client the rap interiors design team discussing a fit out project with a client

Role Assessment

By evaluating everyone’s roles you can determine who needs to be in the workplace and who’s role can be managed by them at home.

23% of people have said they are finding working from home difficult so this assessment will tell you why:

  • A role might require certain tools and resources that can only be accessed within the workplace or the tools needed could be adapted to be able to work from a person’s home.
  • 61% of people are missing face-to-face collaborations with colleagues so roles that require creative thinking could benefit from returning to the workplace.
  • Another role might require quick decision making that can only be communicated effectively through face-face conversation rather than over video calls or Whatsapp chats as 72% miss face-to-face chats.

Staff Survey

Asking your employees some simple questions will give you an insight into their situation, what they are thinking and how they are feeling.

Their feedback is a vital part to provide a solution for them and will make them feel a part of the decision-making, reducing workplace stress.

A study in April 2020 found that:

  • 49% of workers were looking forward to going back to work
  • 59% are worried about maintaining social distancing while at work

Knowing these statistics specific to your own workforce will allow you to cater to the needs of those who are returning to the workplace and the needs of those who are working from home, so you can create a personalised solution for all.

2. What measures do you have in place and what measures do you need to put in place?

Carry out a Workplace Risk Assessment

Workplace Risk Assessment Workplace Risk Assessment

Carrying out a workplace risk assessment specifically focusing on how COVID has impacted the workspace will uncover what is missing from your current measures in place. Therefore you can identify what you need to implement in the workplace and/or in people’s homes.

Of course, these actions will all depend on the nature of your business but ensure you are communicating the actions you are making to your staff, clients and community.

The Government expect all businesses with over 50 employees to share the results of your risk assessment.

44% of workers are worried about hygiene and other cleaning standards so the following measures can be analysed in the risk assessment check.

  • Cleaning operations frequency increased, especially around high-traffic touch-point areas.
  • Deep clean of the workplace before your staff return.
  • Health and Safety signage is an easy way to communicate your practices with your staff and to remind them of their responsibilities too. This is a good example of a notice the Government have supplied, click here to download it.
  • Health and Safety checks of the building including lifts, security and water and fire systems.
  • Air ventilation system to be serviced as well as leaving doors and windows open to encourage fresh air throughout the building.
  • Check employees temperatures as they start and finish work for every shift.
  • PPE.

3. Where does this affect the office and environment?

Evaluate the employee’s workspace both in the office and at home.

Now you know who’s in the workplace and what measures are in place, we next have to analyse where all these changes will be made as there are two working environments to address. The adjustments you’ve already decided on will make these next steps easier to answer as you know the capacity for each scenario so it’s now more about implementation and action.

Bright Open Plan Office Design in Kent for Voyages sncf Built by Rap Interiors Bright Open Plan Office Design in Kent for Voyages sncf Built by Rap Interiors
Working From Home Office Desk with Ergonomic Chair Working From Home Office Desk with Ergonomic Chair

Office Environment

Your current workplace design and its layout will most likely need to be re-designed to accommodate the social distancing guidelines and to minimise the contact employees have with one another. The number of people you have returning to the office will determine what measures need to be considered in the new layout.

Our experience in space planning will make this process quicker and easier and less stressful for you to work out yourself.

Some changes to the office layout might include:

  • Side-to-side or back-to-back working are ways to plan out the desks in the office instead of employees working face-to-face.
  • Protective desk screens can act as a barrier between employees who sit next to each other or those who have to sit face-to-face to eliminate the spread of airborne germs.
  • A one-way traffic flow throughout the office can also be created with floor signs and/or full height protective screens.
  • 34% of workers are worried about getting used to the corporate office culture again so you want to ensure that employees are returning to a positive environment with no hostility.
  • Their well-being is just as important as their safety so finding ways to manage and monitor this should be a part of the process. We spoke with West Kent Mind about managing stress at work, you read the interview here.

Home Environment

75% of workers feel that they can do their work effectively from home but 41% don’t have an appropriate working environment.

Employees working from home are most likely going to be working with Display Screen Equipment (DSE) so employers, by law, must carry out a DSE workstation assessment to ensure it’s suitable for the user. We can carry out this assessment on behalf of the employer.

This could include the following:

  • A suitable desk, chair and storage will minimise the risk of repetitive strain injuries and provide the same comfort as an employee in the office would experience. We have a 3 piece suite, as pictured above, available for £360.00+VAT or they can be sold separately – email us to order.
  • Adequate workspace with suitable lighting and comfortable air, heat and noise levels so they aren’t compromised outside of an office environment.
  • Introducing more flexible working long term will require your support to help them create a productive working environment.
  • The communication they receive from their team members including frequent check-ins, group chats and Zoom calls will keep their interaction consistent so no one feels left out.
  • Properly planned work activities to encourage regular breaks, preferably shorter breaks often, so that users can get up from their workstation and move around.
  • Capable internet and IT systems that are suited to their role. 25% of people have tech issues and these issues can be rectified with the support of a good IT provider, like JJ Systems. Listen to their advice here.

4. When will the office be at full capacity again?

17% aren’t sure when life will return to normal and 22% think that it will take more than a year.

What do you think?

Evaluating the changes in your workplace design will lead you to make a decision. Are these changes reacting to the current environment as temporary workplace solutions, or have they made you think about the long term to make some permanent choices?

Nearly half of companies asked said that they plan to restructure so more permanent changes are being made to business models to create a new normal rather than going back to normal. This isn’t a one size fits all scenario and that’s why other companies will be focusing on the right now which is better for them.

Temporary Office Planning

The decreased number of staff in the workplace might mean you have some free space in the office that you aren’t currently using.

Utilising excess workspace could generate some cash flow into the business as a short term solution by sub-letting the space. You may need to consult your landlord if you are a tenant to get permission but many landlords are keen to keep tenants paying so are being very accommodating.

Office Fit Out Project for Oui-sncf by Rap Interiors Office Fit Out Project for Oui-sncf by Rap Interiors

Permanent Change

65% of leaders in business believe that the purpose of the head office will change with nearly three-quarters admitting that they won’t attend it as often.

A longer-term solution might be to introduce more employees working from home and therefore not need as much office space so you can move to a smaller location, reducing overhead expenses. You might consider negotiating your lease conditions and effect a break clause if possible.

Commercial Office Furniture with Shared Desks and Task Chairs Sourced and Installed by Rap Interiors Commercial Office Furniture with Shared Desks and Task Chairs Sourced and Installed by Rap Interiors

Surrendering Your Office

If you have decided to vacate your office space then normally dilapidation clauses will apply if you are a tenant.

Leaving your premises might require you to fund restoration works at the landlord’s request and the amount will depend on the clauses. Some landlords will want the office returned to the state you occupied it in, but if you have created a betterment then there are financial negotiations to be held, in your favour.

Dilapidation Project Conducted by Fit Out Company Rap Interiors Dilapidation Project Conducted by Fit Out Company Rap Interiors

If you need smaller space, to find the perfect new location too, so we’ll have a chat with our contacts in Commercial Estate to help.

Your new space will require the perfect workplace design to suit the new you, which our designers can take care of, and then hand over to our projects manager to carry out the fit-out.

Check out our Dilapidations advice article here

5. Why Do I Need Support?

Know that you aren’t the only business that might be finding that making these decisions overwhelming and confusing with the fear you are making the wrong one. Even without the urgency that COVID is creating, we have been helping businesses make these types of decisions for over 30 years and supporting them with options that are specific to their businesses needs.

We can provide a service that is catered for your new business’ strategy to return back to work after lockdown safely, quickly and efficiently, alleviating the stress for a smooth transition.

The Benefits of Workplace Design Consultancy

  • Relevant solutions
  • Focus on employee well-being
  • Raise productivity levels
  • Prove flexibility when responding to change
  • Improved communication
  • Welcome support
  • Encourage forward-thinking
  • Promote good cultural changes
  • Reduce expenditure where possible
  • Improve short term cashflow problems

How we can help you make these changes efficiently and smoothly?

office design and Cat B refurbishments Manchester office design and Cat B refurbishments Manchester

Enquire about our workplace design consultancy services.

To get advice and support on your new workplace design, get the experts in and Rap Interiors are happy to help.

Please call one of our team on 0333 600 1234 or fill out the form below and one of our team will call you shortly to discuss your workplace strategy further.