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Vortex Design Solutions / Articles  / Reimagine Your Office Space For COVID-19
Human Distancing Design by Vortex Design Solutions

Reimagine Your Office Space For COVID-19

In South Africa, aside from daily media statistics on COVID-19 infection and death rate, we are also moving into our annual flu season. It is therefore imperative that businesses explore space planning solutions that are in line with COVID-19 regulations, and support their staff in minimising the risks of infection/re-infection even after the dust has settled beyond the global pandemic. Vortex Design Solutions has therefore taken practical steps to implement a new service within their space planning offering and have launched Office Quarantine Solutions and Human Distancing Design.

What does this mean for a business/landlord?

Revisiting staff routine by analyzing previous traffic flow patterns throughout the day, including lunch breaks, interdepartmental interaction, use of internal meeting rooms and direct meetings with clients will assist in implementing design solutions to aid business restructuring for both densely populated office layouts and encourage staff habits to include social distancing as a long term effective precautionary measure.

Vortex Design Solutions endeavours to design holistic solutions for either retail or corporate office environments that can be implemented during and after the lockdown. We work with our current clientele on turnkey fit-outs and supply facilities solutions post-occupation based on examination and application of viable solutions specific to their needs. Turnkey fit-out involves everything required to create a fully functioning office from scratch. We have studied what works, what breaks, what lasts and what becomes the optimum long term solution for commercial and retail implementation.

In our new normal, going forward the corporate business will need to address areas relevant to layout, surfaces, forms and shapes inside previous workspaces. Also consideration on interaction with building services such as Access Control and Aircon (HVAC) systems about the implementation of sustainable methods of utilising our work and retail spaces.

“As a sector, we have had the answers to “green building design principles” and the applied knowledge in rolling out these measures. It has taken a pandemic to bring us to our knees and help us adopt “clean building design principles” beneficial to the sector.”

Raghmah Solomon | CEO Vortex Design Solutions

Do we need to re-evaluate open-plan offices?

The business owner needs to evaluate the validity of the surge in recent years, of the increase in open-plan office layouts with larger numbers of staff crammed into spaces with the aim of increased collaboration. Could we see a better yield in staff performance and return on investment by the acquisition of more rental space and adaptation of existing layouts to provide staff with slightly quieter space, to allow for social distancing, and less distraction as a more viable solution to the efficient operation of conducting future business? 

In former years, fully constructed offices were expensive to build and led to high maintenance costs, at times to the exclusion of open and clear collaboration. Benefits of these constructs included an understanding of office hierarchy and incentives, privacy for concentration, with an inspired area for memorabilia and focused work. The advance of technology and design have opened up many channels; that when implemented correctly, the office layout can accommodate efficient privacy, key activity scheduling and communication.

We can do a quick calculation utilising statistics and data at hand, comparing the number of staff occupying a space with an existing layout versus the number of staff that can be accommodated in an ideal “Office Quarantined Layout” with solutions which allow a perfect balance for social distancing and optimal business interaction.

What is Human Distancing Design & Office Quarantine Solutions?

Vortex Design Solutions can apply quick and easy methods to ensure an office environment is better equipped by the time lockdown has been lifted and staff can return to the premises include:

  • Changing access-controlled finger biometric units to card systems
  • Changing manual door closers to automated door closers, the cost will be negligible if people don’t need to share a door handle 20 times a day
  • Changing countertops that are porous to more robust materials that don’t allow germs to breed. Adding areas for cleaning and disposing of consumable goods packing next to refrigerators and at delivery entrances. Many germs can be found on the top of a packet or can in which your food is contained. A quick test of wiping kitchen areas with a wet wipe will reveal a colour change as this area attracts germs and dirt.
  • Ordering systems at retail entrances so that staff can package it in-store and retail clients can collect when they get to the till. Sneeze guards made available at till points.
  • With Human Distancing Design methods, people that were previously clustered together can be realigned to sit in “cubicles” and have standing screens surrounding them for privacy. Desk clusters can have additional tops and side screens added for demarcation and further privacy on the left and right as opposed to just in front of them.

Vortex Design Solutions office quarantine solutions as an add-on facility to existing office layouts can be utilised with immediate effect. Features range from physical barriers, tech-savvy additions to working teams, automation of your existing tenancy with strategic business partners, available to ensure a smooth transition of your current space to a “safe zone” for your staff. Our complimentary service is available whereby our team can assess your existing layout and advise you on best practice to safeguard your employees. New clients have the best chance of achieving the optimal layout, as our designs are modular and can be implemented to accommodate the most robust building and interior solutions.

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