Return-to-work strategies for space management
Space Managers and Planners are facing one of the most drastic shifts to the facilities landscape ever seen. As organizations plan to return to work there are completely unprecedented requirements related to how we can use our facilities, for which we don't have an existing playbook. New questions are being asked about overall reduced capacity, ensuring safe distancing, prescribed circulation, and changes to shared space in general. While planners strive to provide answers today, everyone agrees that policy will continue to change over time so it's paramount to leverage new tools and methodologies to quickly drive analysis in the future.
This online resource is organized into high-level themes, which are meant to help you work through different types of challenges as they apply to your facilities.
The first high-level question that most organizations are asking is related to the realistic capacities of facilities in a socially adapted world. There have been initial recommendations of reducing capacity by as much as 50-80%, but as we know the capacity derived through a generic formula doesn't really address our diverse facility layouts and uses. Getting this adapted baseline set early is critical because many others will begin their own planning processes based on those numbers. We also know that targets are likely to change over time, so it's important to have a methodology that you can leverage to adjust targets and get quick answers.
Not all space types will require the exact same capacity reductions. Depending on room contents and use, a different square foot per person ratio might be used to determine the room capacity. While it's ok to do rough estimates at the building or floor level based on overall square footage, getting a recommended capacity baseline for individual spaces will help space admins and planners further develop and evaluate plans. Rather than try to assess each space individually, the best strategy is to adjust a square foot per person value at the Space Classification level. This will automatically calculate the suggested 'Adapted Capacity' for each space based on those numbers, and also has the benefit of being updatable in the future as policies change.
Establish Adapted Capacity
The following shows how to generate Adapted Capacity values, and adjust them over time:
The nature of occupancy will undoubtedly change in the foreseeable future, both as the percentage of remote workers fluctuates, as well as how physical distancing practices are implemented for non-remote occupants. The following are a number of areas where social adaptation can be addressed through modern space assignment practices.
For Offices with multiple occupants, it’s important to determine if the size of the space can support physical distancing requirements effectively or if the space needs to be re-programmed for single occupancy. For higher education institutions, Residential spaces are also a high priority for social reconfiguration.
The normal layout of cubicles typically means lots of people in close physical proximity to each other. It’s critical to analyze the impacts of distancing to determine potential reduced capacity and assignability, as well as consider the circulation flow required to get to certain cubicle workspaces.
There are several strategies to work through adapting Space Assignments which our outlined here:
Space Management trends over the last decade have done a lot to make our facilities more collaborative, which means more social interaction across shared spaces. Adapting these shared spaces is an important part of preparing for social re-entry across our facilities. This section addresses some common challenges for shared spaces. The following are some considerations for focusing on different types of shared resources.
Shared meeting spaces today will have an existing maximum occupancy (regulatory), a current capacity (meeting attendee capacity), and will certainly need a socially adapted capacity established as well. Establishing the adapted capacity, or determining an alternate use for conference rooms should be a priority as occupants begin to return to facilities.
Hotdesks will introduce a real challenge in balancing shared flexible workspace capacity with occupant safety. In some regards, hotdesks are the new hot spots. Having multiple people using the same workspace without somewhat aggressive cleaning in between is a focused risk.
Instructional spaces are likely to have a much higher reduced capacity than some other space types, largely due to the amount of furniture, instructional equipment, and circulation required within a single space.
This video overview outlines some of the strategies for dealing with Shared Spaces:
Building circulation is something most people don’t think much about, though it is certainly front of mind in a socially adapted facilities. Understanding how people move throughout a building and then establishing prescribed flow, sections, and safety standards will be paramount in ensuring people’s wellbeing.
Depending on the layout of a building there may be few or many locations where two way foot traffic is not possible while maintaining physical distancing. These types of corridors with a width less than 8-10 feet are choke points where we need to establish single direction flow in order to avoid putting people in an unsafe situation. Identifying these choke points will then help us establish flow and set up sectioning to mitigate these risks.
After you’ve analyzed floors for choke points, you’ll want to try out different ways to establish the single direction flow of foot traffic through out the floor. In many cases there will be larger floors where establishing flow can become very complex, and you may want to introduce sectioning to make flow control simpler. Also make sure to read the note on Elevators below.
For larger floors, floors with complex circulation, or general open-office floorplans, it may be useful to establish sectioning as a means to better control circulation flow. This includes defining the physical locations where partitions will be deployed to prevent foot-traffic between sections while observing flow direction.
One of the biggest logistical challenges for large multi-story facilities will be distancing in elevators. Most elevators will only support a single occupant at a time, which means in any high occupancy building there will be an extremely long wait (not to mention long line) for these resources at peak times. For lower floors stairwells may provide a solution, but in high-rises the necessity of elevators as the only means of access will pose a major challenge. Elevators are also locations you may want to position Sanitization Stations, for those that may have touched elevator buttons.
This video overview provides an outline of how you can plan for Building circulation:
Helping constituents safely find their way as they return to work is more important now than ever, particularly as circulation patterns change and partial closures shift over time. Facilities that once felt familiar to constituents will need multiple forms of assistance to help people navigate and adjust to the new environment, everything from new signage to indoor routing support. There are a few strategies to help accomplish this for your constituents.
Because normal building circulation will be disrupted in most facilities, helping route constituents throughout buildings is more important than ever. Since you have an existing Facility data inventory, you can leverage ArcGIS Indoors to help constituents stay safe and find their way.
InVision data seamlessly integrates your Facilities data with ArcGIS Indoors, where you can use it to create 3D web views, deliver native mobile applications with routing, and set up advanced indoor positioning to monitor traffic in real-time. You can even use it to support contact tracing over time throughout your facilities.
Read more about ArcGIS Indoors capabilities here.
For organizations that want to add these capabilities, check out the following article or contact our InVision services team for a quick consultation.