Melink Corp Headquarters open office workstations

Is your workspace ready for your employees to return?

When people go back to an existing environment, they tend to revert to old habits. You want visual cues, signage and other indicators around the office to remind employees and visitors to be considerate of other’s private/personal spaces.

As workers are welcomed back to offices this week, we’d like to highlight some tips to allow for a smooth transition. Here are our ideas for you to consider as you open your office:

Visual cues for physical/social distancing

  • Add visual markers on the floors indicating six-foot distancing.
  • Waiting areas should have markings on floors indicating places to stand to maintain adequate distance.
  • Add floor markers for cueing areas like at elevators, stairwells, copiers, restrooms, doorways, etc.
  • Hallways, corridors, and walkways should indicate two-way traffic direction with a center line and arrows on floors indicating direction to prevent crossing of paths, just like a roadway.
  • Implement one-way direction for narrow corridors.
  • Remind employees to stay aware when walking through the office – no reading or checking phones to prevent “collisions.” Even better, leave your phone at your desk if you need to walk through the office.
  • Entrances to private offices and all open office/cubicle areas should have tape on the floor to remind of physical distancing.
  • Keep in mind that even if seats in cubicles/workstations are more than six feet apart, when people walk to or from their desks, they need to adjust their path to maintain adequate distancing.
  • Have protocols for use of restrooms and indicators on how to use them – limiting the number of people allowed in a restroom at one time, how to get in and out of the restroom, using toilets and sinks. You want to create as much of a touch-less environment as possible with soap, paper towels and hand sanitizer available.

Need help with signage? Click here to download our health safety signage toolkit.

Two-way traffic direction with a centerline and arrows.

Identify “high touch” areas and safety protocols

  • Indicate protocol for cleaning equipment after each use and have hand sanitizer nearby.
  • Use a pen or key to push buttons on “high touch” areas.
  • Coffee machines and pots, microwaves, printers, copiers, computers, devices, conference rooms, bathrooms, appliances, door handles, railings, etc.
  • Have a cleaning schedule and log to make sure all “high touch” areas are regularly cleaned.

Gathering spaces

  • Remove guest chairs in waiting areas and private offices.
  • Discourage use of collaborative counters, tables, seating arrangements.
  • Chairs should be minimized and placed six feet apart – remove chairs that are not to be used.
  • Libraries and common resource areas should have sanitizer for use after touching materials.

Communal spaces

  • Turn on lighting during the day so people do not have to touch light switches.
  • When using communal refrigerators, employees should know that there is a risk of others touching containers.
  • Water fountains, ice machines and coffee machines should be turned off.
  • Provide a sign up sheet for time slots to use cafe/eating spaces.
  • Regularly clean “high touch” surfaces, including:
    • All handles (doors, cabinets, refrigerator, dishwasher, coffee pots, faucet)
    • All buttons/switches (copier, printer, coffee, microwave, lights, elevator)
    • Counter tops, tables, and sinks
    • Bathroom fixtures, toilets
  • Remove phones, computers, remotes, and equipment from communal spaces.
  • No communal food, candy dishes, group catering, potlucks, or sharing of food.
  • Close smoking areas or at a minimum indicate six-foot distance on ground.
Visual reminders of six foot distancing.


  • Verify all workstations are more than six feet apart. Relocate employees or reconfigure workstations to accommodate physical distancing.
  • Place a physical barrier between staff if desks are less than six feet apart.
  • Even if seats in cubicles/workstations are more than six feet apart, when people walk to or from their desks, they need to adjust their path to maintain adequate distancing.
  • If corridors are less than six feet apart, identify circulation routes and one-way directions. Provide a floor plan to all employees indicating such.
  • Clean and disinfect workspaces daily, including frequently touched objects.
  • Do not allow others to sit at a workstation chair that is not their own.
  • Do not use others’ computer, mouse, keyboard, phone, work tools or equipment.
  • Do not allow others to lean over your shoulder while you work.

Shared offices or private offices

  • Only one person should be allowed in a private/shared office.
  • Remove all visitor/guest chairs.
  • Add a physical barrier where face-to-face interaction must occur.
  • Always keep office doors open to improve airflow.
  • Trash cans for evening cleanup should be placed outside of offices/workstations to prevent maintenance staff from entering a workspace.
  • Do not use other people’s phones, supplies or computer equipment.

Conference rooms

  • Limit face-to-face meetings – hold virtual meetings whenever possible.
  • Never use a conference room without a reservation.
  • Add signage indicating maximum number of people and adequate distancing.
  • Do not use phones, computers, remotes or equipment/supplies in the room.
  • Chairs should be placed six feet apart – remove chairs that are not to be used.
  • Always keep conference room doors open to improve airflow.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces before and after using a conference room.
Post maximum number of people for meeting rooms and remove extra seating.

Reception and Guests

  • Post signage indicating office protocols for visitors to review upon entry.
  • Provide hand sanitizer for guests after touching door handle to enter.
  • All guests should wear a face covering that covers the nose and mouth.
  • Limit number of visitors in the office and schedule arrivals so there are no conflicts with others.
  • Visitors should proceed directly to reception to check in and should not enter any other part of the building.
  • No handshakes or elbow bumps.
  • No outside vendors and salespeople – convert to virtual.
  • Segregate space for deliveries to allow for cleaning/decontamination.
  • No carpooling to the office with co-workers or visitors.

Elevator and stairwells

  • Push elevator buttons with a pen, key or your elbow.
  • Only one person in the elevator. Stay six feet apart when waiting for a elevator. Make sure you leave room for people to exit the elevator safely.
  • Remain one flight apart in the stairwell.
  • If you must cross paths with someone in the stairwell, do so at a landing rather than the stairs themselves to create as much distance between people.

Improve Building Ventilation

  • Increase ventilation rates.
  • Increase the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system.
  • Open operable windows to introduce more outdoor air.

General advice and considerations

  • Have a plan in place early with roles and responsibilities clearly outlined.
  • Make sure you know how you’re going to open your office, your policies and processes, and health safety guidelines.
  • Make sure you have a communications plan to make sure you’re effectively communicating with your staff.
  • Critical items like self-assessment for COVID-19 symptoms, face covering requirements and temperature checks may require extra communication.
  • Hold a virtual training and Q&A session for all staff to directly communicate changes to the office setting, new policies and procedures, and allow staff the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Consider a phased approach to reintroducing your employees back to the office. This will allow you to test with a smaller group to make sure you have the right procedures in place.

Is your workspace ready for your employees to come back?

We’re available to review your workplace plans and suggest improvements. Speak to our workplace expert, Michael Kelley, to discuss your workplace strategy by emailing or call 513.621.6211.

Nothing herein constitutes legal advice or other formal direction or guidance of any kind. The information herein is offered for general informational purposes only.

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