Insights: Post-COVID Best Practices
As we are in the midst of the sixth full week of working from home and some level of quarantine from public spaces in most areas of the country, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel where perhaps we can look to get back to “normal” soon.
In this time of continued uncertainty related to COVID-19, we know everyone has been thinking about how this, or a future, pandemic will continue to affect our way of life upon return to that “new normal,” both in the short term of reoccupation but also in the long term, with modifications to how our buildings and spaces are used and experienced.
The design, construction, and operations team at C&S has been doing the same; thinking not only about our internal practices, but also how new realizations will inform future design decisions and impact your facility operations. The results of our internal brainstorming are the possibilities in the attached Best Practices guide, which will continue to be a living document, evolving as conditions change.
Just as other major events in our country’s past have influenced updates to building codes, the lasting impacts from this pandemic are sure to influence the adoption of conventions within our industry. In addition to regulatory changes that will be non-negotiable, there will be many elements of a holistic approach to design that will be considered across the industry in order to afford occupants and visitors a level of trust for the built environment and spaces they will experience outside their home.
This transition back will certainly be an interesting time and done in waves to ease the concerns of density and social distancing; it will also be a stressful experience for many. It will take planning and flexibility by all in order to make it successful.
In the near term, we are going to need to adapt our existing equipment, spaces, and individual actions to accommodate the necessary changes easily, such as:
- Masks as a standard fashion accessory
- Shifts and staggered work schedules to reduce density
- Increased means of sanitization; sanitizer and PPE dispensers
- Signage and visual clues to direct circulation, identify queueing spacing, and maintain distancing
- More frequent and visible housekeeping
- Smaller or no in-person meetings; diminished seating capacity
This Best Practices document focuses on areas for enhancement to existing facilities or items for consideration in new projects. Not all items will be suitable for all markets. The intent is to create a resource with a menu of options that can be implemented immediately, in the near future, or long-term. As the nation – and indeed the world – transitions through this next phase, the Best Practices guide provides options to support occupant health and operational efficiencies.
In the longer term, many of the more aggressive items, such as “sneeze shields,” may not be required during typical operating conditions, but designs need to provide adaptability for redeployment. Buildings should have the contaminant control infrastructure built in so elements can be reinstalled should “pandemic mode” be needed again.
Just as this Best Practices guide is a living document, so must be our approach to this new normal; we will have to be open-minded and flexible with not only our built environment but also each other to navigate these challenges and opportunities ahead.
Keep an eye out for additional Insights related to building use and design as the C&S team continues to think about our Post COVID-19 workplaces and buildings.
Mike LaMontagne, AIA
Principal Architect, Architecture Department Manager
To discuss what measures may benefit your facility, Mike can be reached at (315) 455-2000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.