Returning with Purpose
As we begin to venture out from our bubble to our offices, businesses and public spaces, we do so with a mix of emotions and a fair amount of trepidation. We are hopeful our efforts to safeguard against the virus and mitigate its spread are paying off, but recognize that we need to reenter with purpose and a plan. We are not virologists despite the abundance of research we have done to make sense of the challenges presented by COVID-19. What we are though are designers and architects skilled at identifying, evaluating and resolving complex issues with thoughtful, purposeful solutions that foster health and wellbeing.
As we have worked to develop a re-entry plan for our own company, three guiding principles have emerged and given shape to our response:
- Make the environment safe
- Take care of people
- Be flexible and adaptable
Make the environment safe by approaching safety from many scales – from the individual to a group, from an employee to a guest to a vendor. Set the tone early with secure access to your facility. Screen all who wish to enter the building at an identified point of entry. From there, clearly communicate protocol for moving about and using the facility to ensure social distancing and to foster a clean and healthy environment. Empower your employees and guests to create and sustain a safe environment.
Deep clean and sanitize all surfaces and shared spaces using chemicals that have minimal impact on people, furnishings and the environment. Minimize and reduce touch points. Provide cleaning stations throughout the facility, especially in high -trafficked, commonly shared spaces. Set protocols to clean before and after use of all surfaces and devices.
Improve indoor air quality to help minimize the viral load by reducing the amount of recycled indoor air, replacing and upgrading air filters, cleaning air ducts and setting controls to achieve recommended humidity levels between 40% to 60%.
Consider upgrades such as touchless faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers, as well as motion and occupancy sensors for building systems such as lighting. The continued development of voice-activated and facial recognition technology will advance to support a touchless environment.
Take care of people by listening, expressing empathy and acting with sincerity. Remember, we are all in this together. Reach out to your staff, customers and providers to help inform a plan of action that resonates with their concerns, promotes their health and wellbeing and provides a safe environment.
There is a lot about this pandemic that is out of our control. In response, we are looking for remedies to bring order to the chaos – utilizing set protocols to maintain a 6’ distance, frequent hand washing/sanitizing, and wearing PPE when appropriate. In the workplace this may mean initially reducing the number of work points, adding screens or implementing other interventions, while supporting those who might need to continue a work from home format.
We cannot stress enough the need to be flexible and adaptable. We know recommendations for creating safe and healthy environments will continue to change and evolve as we receive additional guidance from experts on how best to safeguard against COVID-19. Responding to changing recommendations will be important as will continuing to care for your staff, customers and business partners. Know that measures taken today are not futile, but another step forward in the evolution of your organization.
SFS is here to help! We are good listeners and problem-solvers and we can work fast. Most importantly, we are in this with you and stand ready to help guide you through these uncertain times with staff engagement and change management; evaluation, planning and implementation of modifications to your facility; and strategic facility planning to best position you and your facility for the future.
We are all in this together!
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