Return to the Corona-proof office

Workplace Happiness - Published July 9, 2020

Step by step we go back to the office. Although working from home is still the advice, a “hybrid” work situation is becoming more and more apparent. Here, you work partly at home and partly in the office, in a working environment that is as safe as possible. At Fellow Digitals, we have also taken the necessary precautions to make this happen, for example by limiting the number of people in the office and taking precautions to improve hygiene. But how can you best tackle this yourself? We are happy to share our experience.


The Dutch government wants to protect our health, our jobs and our income. To ensure this, it has taken a number of measures. These rules not only reflect the restrictions, but also provide answers to how to deal with this situation (especially for employers). The question I want to answer today is: how can employers create a really safe office situation? Is that even possible? It is expected that the restrictions will be gradually dismantled, but we will certainly stick to the restrictions where physical security is the norm for quite some time.

Corona-proof. Does that exist?

You will never be completely safe unless you remain in full isolation. But then how do you do it? How do you give your employees a safe environment in which they can start their work “normally”? Adapting the office environment is an obvious solution. And it is quite realistic, I can say that from my own experience. In our office, we have taken various measures to start slowly again in the near future. Further down in this article, I would like to give you an insight into how we have approached this.

You have several options for making your office Corona-safe. As I said, you will never be 100% successful, but with the following tips, you are definitely on the right track. Thanks for this to Pim Bressers from HEVO (consultancy and building management organization), who can be considered an expert in this field. I will briefly summarize his tips, supplemented by the measures we took at Fellow Digitals in Amsterdam and Cologne:


1. Follow the known Corona rules.

Keep your distance. 1.5 meters even in the office. Wash your hands regularly, sneeze in your elbow, do not shake hands. And stay at home when you feel sick.


2. Disinfection.

This will be a challenge. Remember elevator buttons, meeting rooms, door handles, coffee machines. Just washing your hands regularly does not seem to be enough here. Provide a “personal disinfection kit” and put it on the desks of the employees, which is what we do at Fellow Digitals. We even have a “hygiene column” where everyone can sanitize their hands. Practical for visitors! We also provide wipes in more “public” places, such as the coffee machine and our very popular biscuit tin.


3. Hygiene.

This corresponds with my previous point. Make sure everything is clean! We have asked the cleaning company to keep the office clean twice a week. As I mentioned before, there are wipes in several places and there is more hygiene material available. Screen, mouse, keyboard, and landline phone are cleaned by the employee at the end of the day. After a meeting room is used, it is cleaned by the respective employee, including the landline telephone, and remote controls.


4. Route planner.

Depending on the shape of your building or office space, it may be useful to create a kind of route planner. Determine the direction of travel (one-way traffic) and avoid bottlenecks.


5. The workstation.

Push desks apart. If you cannot do this, you can use Plexiglas. The biggest challenge is probably the flex places, which are always occupied by other people. It is impossible to keep them decontaminated all day long. One tip is to use placemats that are taken with you when you leave your desk. But here too, everyone cleans their workplace at the end of the working day with disinfectant wipes. I have already mentioned another solution, which is to maximize your office occupancy.

At Fellow Digitals, we arrange this with what we call an “attendance chart,” a schedule that shows everyone when he or she can come into the office. Pay attention to who you let in and when, e.g. it may be useful for marketing colleagues to work at the same time, and adjust the number of office days to the amount of work. At our company, colleagues on full-time contracts spend more days in the office than part-time colleagues.


6. Meetings.

This is a tough one! After all, you are always dealing with these 1.5 meters. That’s why we meet either in a small setting or online as before. We simply removed a number of chairs in the meeting rooms. That leaves nothing to be desired.


7. Lunch.

The crowded canteen can be prevented by allowing people to have lunch or take a break at separate times. Or eat your sandwich at your desk and then take a walk outside, avoiding unnecessary crowding in the corridors and the busy canteen. I myself can’t wait to get another delicious sandwich Bolgeri at the Kinders sandwich shop on Westerstraat!


How to inform your employees

Assuming you have arranged all this, the final challenge awaits you: How do I tell my employees? Of course, this can be done by email, but that is not really practical. It is more practical to find a central place where people meet every day. For us, this is logically our Viadesk Social Intranet, ideal for communicating centrally with everyone, even if they work from home! Moreover, everyone receives a notification in their mailbox. If you do not yet have a digital platform or a social intranet, but you have screens/displays in your office, corridor, or canteen, for example: Use digital signage to spread your message. Even better if you can combine this (social intranet with digital signage integration), something we can now offer in cooperation with our partner Easyscreen.

Anyway, good luck! And if you have specific questions about office design, contact Pim. I will gladly provide you with information about the digital working world.

Hans Koekkoek

9 Jul 2020