From the customers you serve to the vendors you welcome, the repairpersons who keep your building safe and everybody in-between-- the people that pass through your reception space are decidedly unique to you. Your entryway sets the tone for the health and safety of the entire office, making these some of the most important areas to optimize.
While returning to work, these spaces need special consideration for immediate safety, and as we transition to the all-new workplace, further purchasing can enhance wellness for years to come. Whether you're retrofitting, renovating, or reinventing your reception space, we've got the tools to help you make a safe return to work.
No matter the surface, every touch point needs a routine clean. Having the right cleaning solvents, casual disinfectants, and personal sanitizers is the best defense against casual contagion. For staff, create expectations of cleaning behind oneself and ensure the safety of visitor touchpoints by implementing a routine and frequent wipe down schedule throughout the room.
As you determine your policy on mask, it's understandable to enforce masking on all outside visitors. To ensure that the parties coming into your office have access, purchase a supply of disposable surgical masks for those who are without. Even if masking is only a soft suggestion, the availability will affect their use.
For the most part, these supplies are universally beneficial for the far-flung future. Invest in heavy-duty dispensers, efficient wall-mounted devices, and permanent cleaning caddies that can be maintained indefinitely.
SET UP SNEEZEGUARDS
The best barriers are physical barriers and, when used with ample spacing, can keep everybody happy and healthy. Companies are increasing the availability of sneeze guards, fashioned from completely transparent acrylic to remain unobtrusive. Ensure that your guard is the right height, exceeding the height of tall-stature guests or seated receptionists. For valets, security staff, or other standing employees, full-body guards are available to satisfy these needs.
Paper goods are known to be one of the most porous surfaces to hold on to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. When possible, mitigate or eliminate all paper goods and implement new easy-to-clean options, such as:
- Laminated signage or required reading materials
- Tablet-based sign-in systems to replace paper log books
- Web-hosted materials that can be accessed on visitors' cell phones
- When paper is necessary, provide ample recycling areas for disposal and use small desktop scanners to immediately digitize all forms
As for writing utensils, opt for single-use pens or short golf pencils for an inexpensive and disposable solution. While appealing, options with antimicrobial coating aren't efficient enough against SARS-CoV-2 to be beneficial.
REMOVING & SPACING SEATING
The easiest way to prevent overcrowding? Make it impossible. By removing seating, adding barriers between chairs, and spacing out seats, there's no option for visitors to crowd around one another. Keep single-seat chairs 6' apart, place tables between them, use movable partitions, and add cleanable fake plants to areas to make it difficult to overcrowd.
If you need added capacity and have the facilities, consider transforming an adjacent room into an overflow reception space, only opening up this area as needed. Ensure that it remains easy let guests know when it's time for their meeting or appointment. Maintain the same strict surface cleanliness and spacing measures as you would in the main area.
WAYFINDING & DISTANCING
To regulate in-and-out flow, as well as the movement of employees within the space, create physical pathways that clearly dictate the way people walk. One-way paths of entrance and egress are integral at this time and a combination of physical and visual cues makes expectations clear and easy to follow.
For distancing, floor decals can be stuck to any flooring with easy-to-remove adhesive that won't permanently alter your space. Station these cues six feet apart for waiting queues and add signage to any crowd control belts to dictate appropriate spacing.
The little details have always mattered in a welcoming reception space and who doesn't like a cup of coffee while they wait? These high-touch areas, featuring single-use goods that see a lot of interaction, should be removed and, as restrictions are eased, should be some of the last additions to a post-COVID workplace.
Magazines, made of highly-porous paper, and correlating literature racks should be emptied and stored for the time being, and instead ensure that your WiFi signal is accessible while visitors are waiting. For child-friendly waiting rooms, any toys should remain in storage indefinitely.
Before your employees settle back in to their workspaces, your workforce might share an entrance with outside visitors. There's game-changing challenges for mixed reception and entry spaces, and we recommend creating separate aisles for in-house and external entries. Use crowd control belts, wayfinding decals, and clear signage to denote internal and external walkways. See our guide to Policies & Procedures to lean more about employee onboarding.
Whether it's amid the COVID-19 pandemic or beyond, the use of porous and hard-to-clean materials can make waiting room cleanliness more difficult. Avoid fabric upholstery at all cost, wood and veneer surfaces, and hard-to-maintain leather, opting for hard plastic temporary seating and tables in the interim while seeking out exceptionally durable vinyl upholstery and laminate tabletops for the long haul.
Healthcare furniture is specifically designed to be highly cleanable, featuring durable vinyl upholstery, synthetic or metal arms, and a cleanout space at the back of the seat to prevent debris buildup. These days, seating solutions for hospitals and clinics have become increasingly stylish and serve as universally attractive choices for waiting areas everywhere.
In the meantime, our complete guide to furniture cleaning can help you maintain both durable and fallible materials alike.
To increase the space between chairs, decrease the space that the chairs take up. Narrow options, with a few bariatric selections throughout, allow for a higher waiting area capacity without taking up any more space. Avoid multi-person seating, such as benches or sofas, and try to keep chairs staggered apart from one another or back-to-back in order to keep direct airflow at a minimum.
While we'll all miss those cups of coffee or simple snacks, they're just not feasible for the fairly distant future. The changes applied at the outset should be maintained and, once meetings are underway, offer your guests a beverage in an employee-controlled way. Similarly, magazines may not be a great addition to spaces, but keeping an open wireless connection or a muted television can provide entertainment during extended wait times.
STICK TO A SCHEDULE
While return to work changes were made immediately, relaxation schedules will take time. As the need decreases, slowly reduce your countermeasures proportionally. It won't be an overnight overhaul and there's some changes that are here to stay, but the process will inherently take time. Though they will change as situations develop, craft a tentative schedule for reductions. At the same time, be prepared to quickly pivot to original alterations.
HANG ON TO SUPPLIES
If anything, we've learned the importance of great hand hygiene and respiratory awareness. Keep stock of hand sanitizer and disposable wipes while maintaining an appropriate periodic cleaning schedule to touch up between deeper cleaning. The dispensers and holders you purchase aren't just for disaster remediation; they're investments in the future wellness of your visitors and staff.