When the world comes back to work at the offices after the lock down ends, things will not be the same as before. While video conferencing has become a commonly accepted form of engagement, there will still be the need to meet face to face. While some activities can be carried out in the convenience of home where only a reliable internet connection is required, other activities that rely on human interaction will still require a space for people to meet face-to-face. Besides, human beings still need that kind of physical connection for their own mental well-being and social cohesion.
So, given the new world of work, how will the office reception be transformed? What are the things that you need to look out for and implement when the office re-opens after the lock-down?
While a lot of changes will happen through out the office in terms of layout, seating arrangements and policies, we would like to breakdown the entire office into sections. In this article we will throw a spotlight on how the reception or lobby will be transformed.
The reception or lobby is high touch point place with a lot of activity and interaction between staff and with visitors who arrive to meet with someone. So, it is essential that we look into and secure your reception first prior to even getting into the office.
While most offices have some kind of partition that separates the lobby from the main working area, we find that modern office designs, especially co-working spaces have their reception as part of the common meeting area for members. In this setting, members are unnecessarily exposed to random stream of people walking in and out of the spaces. For example, co-working spaces entertain walk-in inquiries, delivery personnel, couriers and visitors.
Therefore, office managers may want to think of having some kind of separation that segregates and contains the reception from the main working area. This will significantly reduce the exposure of the members from visitors.
COVID-19 has been shown to have a long gestation period before outward manifestation of symptoms. So, it is essential to catch carriers as early as possible. The taking of temperature will have to become a necessity and will need to be a long term, if not a permanent fixture at the reception. This will be required for both the staff as well as visitors. While most offices can make do with hand-held temperature at the lobby, this can only work when the number of visitors is manageable by the receptionists. With a large number of visitors walking in and out, it becomes tedious and in most cases unnecessary to track each and every temperature.
Automated thermal imaging cameras can be a worthwhile investment in such scenarios that relieves the receptionist of having to take the temperature of each and every person. So, receptionists are only alerted to situations where the person has a high temperature. While these are quite an expensive investment now, we think that the prices of these thermal cameras will fall once we get past the COVID-19 pandemic situation and work resumes.
Disinfectants will become part of standard policy to interact with people or devices. Visitors will be asked to use the disinfectants to clean their hands prior to touching the kiosk to register or even the pen to write down their details in a traditional paper based log book.
Receptions will need intercoms to allow people inside after validating their request for entry. We think that intercoms will help filter the traffic through the reception. For example, walk-in visitors and marketing and sales personnel will need to justify their entry prior to even entering the reception. delivery personnel may not be allowed to enter the reception. Rather, they may be met by the receptionist outside the office to sign the package. delivery personnel for such items as food may need to place their items at a designated location and leave before the staff can collect them. These may be near terms solutions but can be considered for long-term implementation as well as it eases the workload on the receptionists.
One of the key things that a reception must have is a visitor registration kiosk. Visitors need to be asked to enter their details and contact information as well as the person they are planning to meet. In most offices, there are pre-registered visitors and walk-in visitors. While pre-registered visitors have a prior appointment, they can be easily on-boarded by staff using the built-in visitor management system in ecobook to reserve the meeting room as well as invite visitors. This provides clarity to the receptionists on who they are going to meet and which is the meeting location.
Walk-in visitors will now be required to enter some details of their own to assist in contact tracing. Information such as name, identification and telephone number must be entered. This applies to even couriers and delivery personnel. In most cases, walk-in visitors may not be allowed inside the first place.
While traditional offices and buildings use smart cards or badges that are issued to visitors, this becomes an unnecessary touch point that can cause spreading of infection especially when the cards are re-used. So, policies such as disinfecting the cards will be required. An alternative to this is the ability to use disposable labels that can be printed after the visitor has registered and then thrown away or use non-touch based registration such as scanning of QR-Code. ecobook visitor management provides for both situations.
the reception is a place of high activity with a lot of people moving around. It is important to keep the environment clean regularly to avoid contamination.
Cleaners need to be scheduled to clean up the place regularly. While common touch points such as seating, kiosks and table tops need to be cleaned more frequently, often multiple times per day, there must be regular deep cleaning at least once a week during weekends or after office hours. Deep cleaning will help in including the whole of the reception space.
Removal of magazines and coffee table books that can be potential points of contamination.
Including air-filters, purifiers and ionizers that can clean the air circulating in the reception.
Providing exhausts that dispense with re-cycled air to allow for fresh air to flow into the office.
Air-Shields that prevent air drifting from the reception to the office if there is an exposed pathway between the two spaces.
COVID-19 is harder to fight than most other infections we have encountered during our life time main because of its long gestation period, rapid spreading and lack of vaccine. The steps to secure your reception area, in some cases may be difficult or costly to implement. However, in the long term, this can prove effective in ensuring that offices are safe places to work.