COVID-19: How to manage limited occupancy in shared meeting spaces
Managing limited occupancy and social distancing in meeting rooms is a multi-step process that will change as COVID-19 guidelines evolve.
In this post, we’ll outline a step-by-step strategy to help you:
- Determine the maximum occupancy of each room
- Create meeting room layouts that keep employees distanced
- Monitor social distancing in rooms throughout your facility
- Communicate your distancing policy to employees
Let’s dive right in.
Determine the maximum occupancy of shared meeting spaces
To determine how many people can use a meeting room while remaining six feet apart, you’ll need to know:
- The dimensions of each meeting room and its contents (e.g. desks, tables, chairs)
- The physical distance between each usable seat
- Your facility’s current COVID-19 social distancing guidelines
With these measurements, you can calculate each meeting room’s maximum allowable occupancy as per your jurisdiction’s social distancing guidelines.
Tools like Distancing Planner and Move Manger can handle this process for you automatically.
Just indicate how much physical distance you’d like between each available seat, and Distancing Planner will calculate maximum occupancy and produce safely distanced seating configurations for your meeting spaces in seconds.
To make sure rooms are safe, you can find the size of each room in Move Manager and change its maximum occupancy accordingly.
You can also refer to your virtual floor plans in a tool like Visual Directory®, or any digital floor plans (e.g. CAD) that your team or building landlord may have on file, to quickly determine the dimensions of your shared meeting spaces.
Create room layouts that keep employees distanced
Simple physical adjustments in a meeting room can help your employees remain socially distanced at all times. As you’re preparing each meeting room, consider adding:
- One-directional physical signage on the floor to control the flow of traffic into/out of the room
- Physical signage to make every second seat unusable (leaving unusable seats between each available can help to remind employees to remain distanced)
You can also use workplace management software to encourage social distancing in meeting rooms by:
- Adding the room’s maximum allowable capacity to your virtual floor plans and room booking software
- Limiting surface sharing by asking employees to find, book, and check into rooms using their personal smartphone or work computer
Monitor social distancing in meeting rooms throughout your facility
Once your meeting rooms are bookable and in use again, you’ll need to monitor how each room is being used to ensure that social distancing and occupancy limits are being respected at all times.
Room booking software can show you how rooms are being used throughout your facility by giving you access to room utilization data and attendee information.
Workplace sensors can automatically measure employee density within rooms and shared spaces, and send your facilities team an alert whenever the set maximum occupancy limit for a particular space has been exceeded.
Communicate your distancing policy to employees as COVID-19 guidelines evolve
With so many new policies and floor plan changes to deal with, it’s unrealistic to assume that employees will follow COVID-19 workplace guidelines at all times.
Taking this into account, facilities leaders at companies like BRG and Equinix have introduced the following practices to better communicate and reiterate their workplace distancing policies to employees:
- Returning employees receive a detailed welcome kit before they return to the office. This welcome kit outlines distancing guidelines and meeting room usage policies.
- Employees must revise and sign their workplace’s COVID-19 guidelines before they can return to the office.
- All COVID-19 workplace policies are available on the internal wiki
- Visual Directory® and room listings include reminders (maximum occupancy, digital signage, etc).
- Regular emails are sent to update employees, even when there is no new information to share. Driving this decision is the observation that frequent communication has been shown to put employees at ease.
Need some help with your return to the office plans?
Thousands of companies are leveraging the features in OfficeSpace to create a safe return to the office for their employees.
If you’d like to see OfficeSpace in action, and learn how tools like Room Booking and Visual Directory® can help you manage social distancing in meeting rooms, book a demo with our team.
Photos: Drew Beamer, OSS, yann maignan, iMattSmart