Preparing Your Facility for a Safe & Welcoming Post COVID Re-Gathering

  • “Overall, it’s important to consider the human experience. The built environment should promote wellness, optimism and celebrate life.“ (Gensler)


    Your “Grand Re-Gathering” will be an incredible opportunity to welcome guests, newcomers and those returning home. As we move toward this exciting day, some of you are taking this time for facility improvement. Below are some tips on preparing your existing facilities for social distancing best practices.

    Create a seamless and touch-free experience


    • Touchless access/controls can be controlled by foot, motion-activated, voice activated, or through personal devices (cell phones and iPads). This can be applied to lighting control, window shading devices (drapery, shades, blinds), doors, etc.


    • Consider foot-controlled trash and recycling receptacles or use receptacles without lids.


    • Faucets, soap dispensers and paper towel dispensers/hand dryers can be touchless, motion-activated.


    • In lieu of pulls that require use of hands, consider touch-latch hardware on cabinetry (use of elbow or foot to open) This may require more durable surfaces and finishes.


    • Install keyless entry.


    Children’s Spaces


    • Replace iPads with volunteers and Touchless Check-In.


    • Bring your own child identification labels that coincide with registration/ check-in.


    Commons + Cafés


    • Provide masked and gloved volunteers to serve coffee, removing self-serve option.


    • Serve and sell pre-packaged, individually wrapped pastries and snacks.


    • Add hand-sanitizer stations throughout the facility. While freestanding dispensers are a great space saving option, they may be hard to find. Small bistro tables with pump dispensers, along with sanitizing wipes and disposable masks are a great alternative.


    Occupancy and Social Distancing


    • To reduce occupancy for church and other assembly institutions, consider adding additional worship services.


    • Convert formerly public / shared spaces (i.e. conference rooms, focus rooms, break-out spaces) to assigned space, in an effort to “thin-out” occupancy in other spaces.


    • Remove excess seating to help users properly distance.


    • In larger facilities, assign restrooms to be used by certain occupancies or time frames, in order to properly rotate and maintain cleaning schedules.


    • Provide an isolation room in the event an employee or visitor feels ill.


    • Provide tools for fever testing, with a means of egress that does not expose other occupants.


    • Provide outdoor spaces for work and meetings with proper distancing; or at least fresh air options with operable windows and retracting walls opening to covered decks, courtyards, etc.


    • Conduct virtual meetings even when attendees are within the building.


    Cleaning and Air Quality


    • Implement cleaning protocols and schedules.


    • Install UV lights to air handlers.


    • Provide indoor air quality displays in public areas with information pushed out through an app to tenants / employees / visitors.


    • Add natural plant life (biophilic design) with benefits such as decreased stress, enhanced creativity and accelerated recovery from illness.


    Surveys indicate that “mostly open” spaces perform best.  Try to maintain this sense of openness while creating safe separation. Team members value options and the ability to have input in where and how they work.  Flexing in and out of the office environment can offer this choice and aid in providing less density in the work environment.


    Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment


    • Consider naturally biocidal finishes such as copper and copper alloys.


    • Consider products that have integrated anti-microbial coatings (floors, hardware, faucets, paint, fabrics…) however, research has proven that much of this coating protects the “integrity of the product” in lieu actually protecting the health of the user, and may even cause environmental harm. (White Paper published by Perkins + Will March 2017). Research the specific treatment and proven results.


    • Erect portable partitions within larger waiting areas to create “pods” for 6-8 people.


    • Utilize non-porous finishes for contact areas where possible.


    • Consider the use of seamless surfaces.


    • Use of hard flooring in lieu of carpet.


    • Utilize upholstery, furniture, flooring, and wall surface products that have high durability and can be bleach-cleaned.


    • Consider products commonly used in the HealthCare environment. Flooring examples include: LVT (luxury vinyl tile), rubber, solid vinyl, terrazo and multiple other hard surfaces.


    Signage + Wayfinding


    • Signage and graphics should communicate a friendly and human design and tone – for example, instead of “Masks Required”, a sign might state “Let’s Wear Masks”. This may assist in reducing stress.


    • In the transition from home back to office, church, school, etc., consider introducing friendly messages like “Welcome Back” at entrances, physical distancing floor decals in elevators and lobbies, and “Let’s wash our hands to protect each other” signs in restrooms. (Gensler) Accompany this with an overall communications plan that sends friendly uplifting messages via email, social media, etc.


    • Keep signage more personal by reflecting your corporate brand.

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