Plexiglass and Cubicles
As law firms scramble to retrofit their offices for COVID safety, two unlikely winners are plexiglass and cubicles.
On the way out are shared workspaces and open floor plans.
“Office spaces are rapidly evolving for the post-coronavirus era,” says Sean Peek in this article for CO. “The modern workplace environment may see some permanent changes. Creative office space and furniture ideas will help keep your workers safe.”
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Here are 9 ways to make your office safe for your employees. All quotes are from Peek and the CO article.
- Plexiglass is back. “Temporary plexiglass shields can be placed in conference rooms, on employee desks or in hallways to separate people and maintain social distance guidelines,” writes Peek.
- Turn communal spaces into something new. “These spaces include larger conference rooms, cafeterias and employee lounges. Rather than avoiding these rooms altogether, businesses can repurpose the rooms as temporary workspaces so employees can spread out. Furthermore, if your company has space outside, you can move employees outdoors with weather permitting.”
- Don’t overlook cubicles. For research, peruse these hundreds of Dilbert “cubicle” comic strips.
- Repurpose your reception area. “Some companies are reimagining the reception area as a decontamination lounge. New procedures, such as taking temperatures at the door, placing hand washing stations in waiting rooms, or even instructing people to take off their shoes, may become commonplace. Meanwhile, amenities that pose a higher risk of spreading germs like self-serve coffee will likely go by the wayside to reduce the risk of transmission. In its place, you may see a sink or hand washing station that you must use before entering the office.”
- Spread furniture out. Rearrange desks and chairs so they are six feet apart. Route hallway traffic so it goes one way only, to avoid unnecessary contact.
- Open those windows. “According to researchers from the University of Oregon and the University of California-Davis, opening windows is the optimal way to climate-control the office while preventing the spread of coronavirus,” says Peek. “Central air conditioners and heaters re-circulate the air, which can transmit viral particles from one space to another. If your office building does not allow you to open windows, avoid standing near the air conditioning exhaust, where particles are often trapped.”
- Pass the hand sanitizer. Set up hand sanitizing stations throughout the office, especially in break rooms, entrances and reception areas.
- Upgrade your HVAC. Can’t afford an upgrade? Use portable air purifiers, keep windows and doors open, and change filters regularly.
- Limit the number of people in the office at any time. You can achieve this through staggered schedules and working remotely. Avoid large conferences and in-office gatherings. Post signage indicating the maximum number of people at any time.
Jay Reeves is author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World. He practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Now he writes and speaks at CLEs, keynotes and in-firm presentations on lawyer professionalism and well-being. He runs Your Law Life LLC, a training and consulting company that helps lawyers add purpose, profits and peace of mind to their practices. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-619-2441.