How COVID-19 Will Change Office Design

Franchesca Brawn

With businesses set to return to work over the coming months, these are some of the changes you might have to make to your office design and layout.


The UK government is taking steps to ensure that businesses can reopen their doors as soon as possible following the Covid-19 pandemic.

But when they do, they are going to have to make significant changes to the design and layout of their office to ensure staff are protected.

From moving desks and workstations to putting markings on floors and installing screens, there is a lot to be done before employees can return to offices.

Below, we highlight some of the key steps that businesses must take to make sure their offices are safe for staff to return to.


  • Ensure desks and workstations are 2m apart

Social distancing within offices is critical and the best way of achieving this is to ensure that desks and workstations are spaced two meters apart.

This may reduce the overall capacity of your office space and may mean that some team members will have to continue to work from home.

  • Move desks so that employees don’t face each other

There are many different layouts that can be used when it comes to where desks, breakout areas, etc are located within an office, but this looks set to change.

The government is advising business to arrange desks and workstations in a way that ensures employees are not facing each other.

Ideally, desks will line up side-by-side and in rows. If this cannot be achieved, then you will need to come up with a way of introducing “screening” around desks.

  • Reconfigure breakout areas with social distancing in mind:

When it comes to breakout areas, ensure that social distancing is achievable by moving furniture so that it allows staff to remain two meters apart.

This may mean closing off some seating or removing fun items such as ping pong tables and anything else that encourages employees to congregate together.

For the time being, breakout areas should be laid out in such a way that staff can take time away from their desk but without getting too close to other team members.

  • Use tape to mark areas and ensure social distancing 

To help employees’ social distance, you might need to mark out a one-way system around the office and also define where staff need to be to ensure they are two meters apart.

This can be achieved by marking out areas on the floor with tape – black or black and yellow stripes works best – so they know where to stand or which direction to move around the office.

  • Hand sanitiser stations

Help employees maintain the highest possible hygiene standards by installing hand sanitiser stations around the office – this can simply be tables with hand sanitiser solution on them.

Alternatively, you could install hand sanitiser dispensers in key locations around the office, such as the main entrance, the kitchen, toilets and lockers.


  • Install screens in reception areas 

If your office has a welcome area and reception, you will need to protect reception staff and the best way of doing this is by installing a screen.

Also consider rearranging waiting-area furniture so that visitors can social distance and remain two meters apart at all times.

While these changes may seem small, they have a huge impact on the safety of the work environment you provide to your employees post Covid-19.

These changes will be temporary, but businesses should think about how they can be applied to their office space now so they are ready to return as soon as the government gives the green light.