Office Space

 

Although telework continues to be strongly encouraged, all offices in Montgomery County may reopen provided they comply with the General Operating Requirements.

Recommendations

  • Maximize extended telework for all functions where telework is successful.
  • Limit general occupancy within office space to no greater than 25% of pre-COVID-19 levels for Phase 2 and 50% in Phase 3.
  • Limit occupancy in communal or shared spaces, including conference rooms, lobbies, break rooms and other shared spaces to no more than 1 person per 113 sq. ft.
  • Create shifts, rotational schedules, or modify work as necessary to maintain physical distancing and occupancy levels in the workplace.
  • Address physical distancing strategies for the following specific areas:
    • Building and/or office suite entrances. Reduce the number of entrances and exits to direct occupants to use monitored and protected routes. Modifications must maintain code compliance.
    • Reception. Train reception personnel on safe interactions with guests and ensure processes and physical layout supports maintenance of physical distancing. Consider eliminating reception seating areas and request that visitors phone ahead or utilize appointments to the extent possible.
    • Lobbies, common areas, kitchens. Consider guidelines and recommendations that promote safety and guide building occupants through common and amenities areas beyond the entry. Use signs and decals.
    • Elevators. Utilize methods for physical distancing queue management for waiting passengers. Post instructional signage displaying healthy elevator use protocols including passenger limits and safe distances in the carriage. Manage flow and discourage over-crowding of elevator carriages.

Specific Office Considerations in Plan Development

These factors should be considered in the development of your individual office building strategies:

  • Higher Densities. Workplaces have been decreasing individual space allocations.
  • Open Plan. Open plan is the primary form of office planning.
  • Shared and Communal Spaces. Shared and communal spaces are common practice enabling collaboration and promoting large group gatherings.
  • Mobility. Mobile technologies allow individuals to change location within the workplace and gather easily.

Daily Behaviors - All Staff

Evaluate the entire employee workday. Identify congregation points where measures should be implemented. Maintain physical distancing and all other recommended measures. Ensure separation of 6 feet or more between individuals using methods for calculating physical distancing occupant loads discussed in this document.

Encourage use of virtual meeting tools, including phone and virtual teleconference, in lieu of in-person meetings, whenever possible. If in-person meetings are essential, consider limiting meetings to 10 people or less depending on guidelines.

Temporarily replace amenities that are handled with high contact frequency, such as water coolers, coffee makers, and bulk snacks. Examples include touchless sensor water dispensers; requesting workers bring in their own water bottles/coffee mugs; providing individually-wrapped snacks.

Reduce tasks requiring large amounts of people to be in one area. Design work to reduce or eliminate trade stacking in the same area.

Workspace Modifications

Close or reconfigure common spaces and high-density areas (break rooms, eating rooms). Rearrange workstations to ensure physical distancing. Install transparent shields or other physical barriers where possible to separate employees and visitors where physical distancing is not an option.

Separate tables and use distance markers to assure spacing. Reconfigure workstations so that employees do not face each other or establish partitions if facing each other cannot be avoided.

Repurpose meeting rooms, common areas for additional workstations to de-densify. Use methods to physically separate employees in all areas of the facilities including work areas and other areas such as meeting rooms, break rooms, parking lots, entrance and exit areas.

Establish directional hallways for foot traffic. Post clearly visible signage. Limit visitors where feasible and avoid congregation in lobbies. Use signs, tape marks, or other visual cues such as decals or colored tape on the floor, placed 6 feet apart, to indicate where to stand when physical barriers are not possible.

Continuous assessments are critical. Prior to proceeding to Phase 3:

  • Monitor utilization rates for workspaces and all collaboration and meeting rooms for under/over subscription; and
  • Develop adjustments to rotational schedules, space plans and/or percentage of workforce.

Resources