Redesigning Workspaces in the Pandemic Era Through Signage (Part 2)

As discussed in the previous post, workplace reopening protocols require implementation of the latest Centers for Disease Control workplace guidelines (hand hygiene and social distancing policies, office room cleaning, and workplace controls such limiting usage of shared spaces). These guidelines need to be effectively communicated to staff, which can be achieved through visual signage.
According to the CDC, employers have to “use verbal announcement, signage, and visual cues to promote social distancing,” so no matter which formula is chosen for an office redesign, new protocols have to be conveyed to staff. This will help create a safe environment and communicate to staff that the employer is taking their security seriously through the implementation of safety measures. An effective way to reinforce new health measures is to add signage around the workspace to direct the user.
Below are some tips to display signs that will help employees understand what safety measures the company is putting in place to decrease exposure. To make them catchy and be sure they’re seen, signs should be highlighted through unconventional - but easy to understand - elements.
Display the entry protocol.
Consider conducting daily in-person or virtual health checks (e.g., symptom and temperature screening) of employees before they enter the facility, in accordance with state and local public health authorities (CDC statement). Employers need to make sure employees complete an entry screening and a hand hygiene routine upon arrival to the office, use face masks in specific common areas, keep their personal belongings in a dedicated space and use designated phones to communicate with other departments. These guidelines can be communicated as icons or illustrations right next to the reception area along with hand sanitizer. Movable murals can provide flexibility and make a future redesign easier and cheaper.
Use icons on the ground for direction.
The goal is to avoid excessive path-crossing among employees. Companies can establish one-way routes or two lanes if the alley is wide enough. In the case of a one-way lane, remember to design the return route. Arrows or a sign strategically placed on the floor can indicate the direction of each lane.
Rapt Studio x DoorDash
Rapt Studio x DoorDash
Use visual signs on walls for direction.
The user will need direction to get to their destination (kitchen, reception, restroom, etc). Again, floor signs are extremely effective and will serve as an enduring reminder of the proper safety protocol. Signs on walls can also be used to communicate rooms names and allow for more descriptive guidance.
Use colors or specific elements to separate areas.
Alternatively, companies can find ways to separate office areas to follow CDC recommendations for social distancing.  For instance, each department can be assigned a specific color, with the same color used within the department and for floor arrows leading to it for clear delineation of space.
Wall and Wall x Confidential Client
Wall and Wall x Google
Visually highlight policies of common areas.
If there are established guidelines for use of the kitchen or restrooms, companies can reinforce them through visual elements, either written or illustrated, placed directly next to the door or on a strategically placed panel.
Set up the floor plan.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the aspects that integrate a safe environment in a company, it’s feasible to imagine a mix of covid-free measures using both open and closed floor plans. This is how it could look like, from a general perspective:
  • Common spaces, such as the kitchen and reception area, should be accessible from multiple points to avoid crowding and prevent exposure. Plants are a great alternative to break up large spaces without using furniture,
  • If there are closed rooms within departments, one-way alleys can be used to direct the flow of traffic coming from common areas. For a more open space feeling, glass can be used instead of solid walls, which also helps by improving visibility.
  • Meeting rooms should be sparsely decorated: only chairs, a table and maybe a projector are necessary items for a meeting room. Consider concentrating all of the casual gatherings there. Most likely, in-person meetings of more than 6 people will be rare in the coming months, so utilize a 4-people meeting room, including a 6-foot distance between chairs.
  • The number and location of restrooms depends on the workspace capacity. If only one restroom is needed, the best location is next to the reception, where it is accessible to everyone. Otherwise, the restrooms should be distributed throughout the different workstation areas. That avoids employees traveling throughout different departments whenever they need a bathroom break.
If you are open to applying workplace innovation to adapt to social distancing requirements, you may need to adjust them to fit your company’s needs. Don’t hesitate to consult an interior designer for advice to make the most out of this transformation. Wall and Wall can give you tons of ideas about how to implement new protocols through impactful hand-painted murals. Besides improving communication, the colors will make your employee’s day more joyful. Let’s start transforming!