Going back to work? Adapt your workstations

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As Dubai returns to 100% functionality, here's how to organise your workspace to protect yourself and your colleagues.

By Mihir Sanganee

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Published: Thu 4 Jun 2020, 10:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 12 Jun 2020, 11:28 AM

Since private offices are now permitted to operate at 100 per cent capacity, you might be gearing up to return to your office after a while. While going back to work can feel slightly surreal at first - everyone with masks, social distancing at all times, and no more physical contact such as handshakes and hugs - we will eventually reach a new 'normal'.
To ensure enhanced safety, here are a few tips to organise your office space to protect yourself and those around you:

* Retrofit the workplace to enable easy flow of people throughout the office space. Remove additional furniture and accessories and add physical barriers to ensure hassle-free social distancing is always maintained. If a barrier cannot be used, additional space between workers should be created. For example, ensure they have at least one vacant desk on either side of them.
*  De-clutter your desk and only keep items that are vital to helping you work efficiently.
*  Choose bleach-cleanable or easily washable fabrics to easily clean and disinfect upholstery. Making sure you have a spray that cleanses is always going to be handy.
*  You still might have colleagues and stakeholders working from home, so keep an elevated stand and some earphones handy for those Zoom meetings.
* Keep disinfectants handy for all working surfaces and wipe them down regularly. This extends to your digital screens and keyboards, phones and any other items on your workstations.
* Set yourself reminders to wash your hands at regular intervals. You can use post-it notes or your phone, but we suggest keeping them visible and accessible throughout your working period.
*  Use more signs in general across the office. Think road markings, but for professional spaces. From court-style line markings in entrance areas to standing spots in lifts, and from circles around desks to lanes in corridors, the floors and walls of our offices are likely to be covered in visual instructions.
*  Another possible approach is to encourage employees to walk clockwise, creating one-way flow to minimise transmission, as adopted by many hospitals during the current outbreak.
*  Keep emergency contact details easily visible at your workstation.
*  Schedule your breaks with your colleagues. This might be part of the new 'normal' but to ensure common spaces like corridors, lifts, pantries aren't congested, connect with your colleagues and schedule meetings and breaks that don't overlap.
* Finally, avoid excessive workload on your cleaning staff by taking appropriate measures, such as assigning additional staff to the tasks and leaving your workspace tidy. Make sure you have tissues and waste bins lined with a plastic bag so that they can be emptied without contacting the contents.
*  Coming back to work may seem like a bit of a hassle, but people are going to appreciate this lockdown being lifted and the overall benefits will ripple through the economy. We are lucky to be in a country where sanitation is already given a high priority - with some additions to that list of do's and don'ts.
In the meantime, stay safe.
by Mihir Sanganee, Design Director, Designsmith

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