Transforming Office Space for A Post-Pandemic World
MOI partners with clients and design firms to transform workplace interiors and enhance corporate culture. With many questions about the strategy of returning to the office, we turned to MOI for answers on transforming office space in a post-pandemic world.
It has been quite a journey for local interior solutions leader, MOI, as they have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic and are planning a strategic return to the office. In response to the pandemic, MOI proactively closed their showrooms, instituted company-wide teleworking, and hosted virtual meetings to conduct everyday business across their four locations. All of these measures ensure the health and safety of their clients, partners, employees, and communities.
“With so much uncertainty, our leadership team truly came together to focus on a proactive plan. Being the innovative and resilient group that we are, we established a task force comprised of leaders from each department to create a return to the office strategy that addresses key aspects of our team’s safety in the days ahead.” said Amanda Heptinstall, Director of Marketing at MOI.
Planning the Return
Realizing that they were in a unique position to define what the post-pandemic office space should look like, MOI’s task force met virtually 2-3 times each week to collectively make decisions. Some of the discussion points included screens and products needed to ensure staff safety, how and where to get PPE, and most importantly, how the space needed to transform.
All four of MOI’s locations closed when the pandemic spread to the U.S. The only area of the business that remained partially staffed was the warehouse, with only three employees in the office and a handful of others working on project sites. The warehouse became the kickoff point for MOI’s larger plan for comprehensive safety protocols that could later be implemented across the other four locations.
The first step in the plan was to figure out who wanted to return to each office and when. There are many factors that may determine an employee’s ability to come back to work including childcare, health concerns, elderly care, and comfort level of being around others. MOI surveyed staff about their interest in coming back to the office to understand how to transform the space most effectively.
MOI recently opened its Baltimore location, which has 63 seats with ample space for social distance. Employees are coming to work on their specified day and the task force is monitoring what strategies are working well and continuing to develop improvements thanks to an employee feedback forum on the company’s Intranet.
The Baltimore location has a large outdoor terrace where employees can collaborate six feet apart, take personal phone calls, and work outside safely. In the past, this terrace was primarily used for events but has become a destination space for employees and visitors alike.
Workplace Adjustment Strategies
Most modern offices include an open floor plan; this has become a safety concern due to the lack of barriers between individual workstations. The average sneeze sprays approximately 40,000 droplets that can travel up to 200 mph to a distance of 26 feet. In an open work environment, one uncovered sneeze can quickly spread germs across shared surfaces and working areas.
MOI conducted a very thorough safety comparison, discussing how to communicate with visuals and signage, and where to place sanitation and PPE. Traffic flow was equally important to consider, given the narrow walkways between workspaces. They placed stickers to indicate the new path of travel to help staff maintain safe distances. MOI’s Director of Design, created a 12’ radius around each seat to ensure a 6’ separation, even while people are walking around the room. Removing furniture from collaborative areas and encouraging staff to spread out was another part of the social distancing solution.
“In places where it is possible to group, like around the copier, we placed reminders to stay 6’ away. Shared use areas have signage requesting a wipe down after use. We also supplied our employees with a stylus pen to prevent the need to touch technology, reducing shared touch points.” said Amanda Heptinstall, Director of Marketing at MOI.
Here are a few examples of the signs you will see when visiting MOI.
Speaking of visitors, MOI has established a specific day of the week to accept visitors. To accommodate visitors for any other day of the week, a request is sent to the Director of Facilities who notifies employees at least 24 hours in advance giving them the option to telework if desired. After every external visit, a professional deep clean is performed to reduce the risk of exposure to internal staff.
In the planning stages, it was assumed the Baltimore headquarters would have the highest number of employees in the space at any given time. To plan for this, MOI created an alternate seating diagram for Group A (labeled in blue) and Group B (labeled in purple) to indicate where employees could sit on the rotating schedule. This protocol ensures social distancing guidelines as well as helps cleaning crews identify which areas need extra attention when cleaning at the end of the day.
The diagram below is a layout of the Baltimore showroom pre and post-pandemic. The key shows how MOI implemented each of these features throughout the office.
Thinking Outside the Box
This forward-thinking company developed creative and viable solutions for a safe return and adopted a whole new technology so customers could virtually tour their stunning showrooms from the comfort of their home.
MOI used a Matterport camera to capture and convert the showroom space to a 3-D virtual experience that wows anyone who takes the time to go for a tour. [MOI Baltimore Virtual Tour]
This technology not only shows the space, but created a seamless shopping experience that allows customers to click on furniture showcased in the tour, linking to additional information about the piece. This state-of-the-art service crafts a true customer experience as close to reality as possible.
Bottom line – no one really knows how long this pandemic is going to last, but this may just be the opportunity to pivot and transform the way business gets done. The best thing businesses can do is to evaluate their shared workspaces, get a pulse on how employees feel about returning to the office, and implement a plan that keeps the safety of everyone involved at the forefront of the strategy.
Organizations choose MOI because we partner to create interiors that transform their workplace and enhance their corporate culture, all within budget. We are a client-centered interior solutions provider that furnishes any commercial space from floor to ceiling. Taking interior outfitting to a new level, MOI’s consultative approach to furniture and space management greatly benefits our clients. As a 100% employee-owned company, MOI’s staff measures our success alongside the success of our clients’ projects.
|Sara Rowan | MOI
|Amanda Heptinstall | MOI
Director of Marketing