As the county returns to work and businesses expand or locate here, making the best use of space during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical.

The Lunz Group has ideas to help you make sure your workspace is as safe and functional as possible, whether you’re working in logistics, health care, entertainment or an office. Team members understand most companies have a limited amount of space and can’t double or triple their size to add offices for everyone.

“We often recommend to our clients, when faced with concerns surrounding the return to the office, to think about temporary, cost-effective options that may be put in place during this time,” said Brad Lunz, president of The Lunz Group. “Identifying opportunities where we may be able to increase distancing between workspaces, incorporating one-way aisles, adding in temporary sanitation stations, switching community furniture for easily cleaned or antimicrobial fabrics or adding in plexiglass shields to decrease the spread of germs are just a few of the recommendations we have proposed to some of our clients.”

The firm’s architects generally recommend “more cost-effective, temporary options that can be more easily integrated into already established spaces and investigating opportunities for implementing newer design trends into our projects currently in the early onset of a project,” Lunz said.

They understand some trends can be costly, and more permanent. “Some trends we are seeing may be here to stay, while others will fade with some return to normalcy in terms of best design practices,” he said.

Other trends cost little, in comparison, especially visual clues.

“While visual cues are not new to the workplace, we will be seeing them incorporated more and in different ways,” Lunz said. “These may include additional sanitation stations, handwashing instructions and tips, 6-foot distance indicators, floor stickers, wall markers and more.”

Visual cues are easier to incorporate and keep a collaborative atmosphere more than changes like individual offices. But, in reality, businesses are having more employees work remotely, which opens up more avenues for architects.

“Through the integration of today’s collaborative technology, our company has been able to easily adopt and adapt to remote work. We use video conferencing via Microsoft Teams to hold team meetings, screen share through a design problem, give and receive feedback, and keep our projects moving during this time” Lunz said. “Our offices have also held VIRTUAL social hours, such as coffee breaks during the week, to gather together much like they would naturally in an office setting to share ideas and updates among the teams.”

Having even some staff members work remotely gives employers more opportunities to incorporate extra space in areas like break rooms. “Maintaining social distance during breaks and mealtimes may be more feasible than it may seem,” Lunz said. “As we see more and more people going back to work, utilizing visual cues and markers to indicate appropriate social distancing may be incorporated. We may also see shifts in furniture within these spaces to help maximize efficiency while maintaining social distance.”

The Lunz Group has written several articles that offer deep dives into several categories. Those include:

An article on logistics will be posted soon. Mike Murphey, director of the group’s Distribution and Logistics Studio, said most distribution and logistics companies they work with have only five to 10 employees working in their warehouses, so all are “essential” for business continuity.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we are accounting for the health and safety of every individual,” Murphey said. “Luckily, within these spaces, we often have the opportunity to increase office space by modifying certain elements of the tenant space. One trend we are seeing is the decrease in open office design and transitioning to more individual offices with a lobby for guests. More of our clients are continuing to transition to remote work, which also reduces the need for office space within the warehouses.”

Lunz said he expects the effects of the coronavirus to be temporary.

“While today it may seem contrary to say, this will not be a permanent way of life forever,” he said. “What we will see and continue to implement in our design is greater consideration for increasing health and wellness opportunities for those utilizing the space, and continue to establish new, best practices moving forward.”