Getting Back to Work, Safely

Like a sociological tsunami, COVID-19 has washed over and through nearly every aspect of society. On the fly, we’ve had to rearrange the ways we interact. This includes the physical spaces we share, especially workplaces of all kinds, from schools to hospitals to offices.

With the restart of learning institutions, there is even more focus now on the safe return to the wide variety of work settings. After the long pause of homeschool and work-at-home arrangements, shared spaces are coming back “online.” This has brought to the forefront of business disciplines like space planning, —commercial and industrial construction, furniture solutions, office interiors rehabilitation, relocation assistance, and logistical support.

The physical tenacity of the COVID virus — its ability not only to hang in the air in enclosed spaces but capacity to linger on surfaces, where it can then travel by touch — has meant that our “normal” environment has to be profoundly rearranged.

Changing workplaces means things like wider corridors; limiting capacity; ensuring regular cleaning of high-touch areas like kitchens, lunchrooms, and restrooms; transitioning from open floor plans to more solo workspaces using glass panels and furniture solutions to create social distancing infrastructure that feels natural and comfortable.

This kind of comprehensive reimagining of workplaces — and subsequent reworking and reconstruction of the physical environment — calls for an approach that Horgan General Contractor Inc. specializes in, delivering efficient, effective project fulfillment by weaving the expertise of all stakeholders throughout the design, construction, and assembly progression.

Based in suburban Philadelphia, we provide a full range of services — space planning, budgeting, coordination with architectural and engineering professionals, construction, relocation services in tandem with IT and A/V implementation, and maintenance services — to northern Delaware, southern New Jersey, and the Princeton area. We also offer a dedicated project manager who works with clients on a national basis to provide space planning, relocation, furniture planning, and space preparation support.

COVID-19 is forcing us all to look hard at how we do business — including the actual physical reality of the work locations that shape how and where employees interact during their day — and adapt. It’s a sizable, complex job in and of itself.

What’s the best way to limit the number of surfaces that are communally touched? What’s the aerodynamic reality of an office space? How can a workspace be created that integrates centralized operations with the new reality of more work-at-home employees?

What an integrated project delivery firm like Horgan can do is provide intelligent solutions by, first, getting a handle on your needs by learning how your organization really works. This means understanding not only the specifications of your space but also what it is you do there. Then comes the creation of a realistic space plan —developed with any architects and engineers that are part of your team or brought on as part of the team — and then handling the work that flows from this concentrated planning process.

A safe return to workplaces in the COVID era hinges on making the social distancing that is now necessary into a fully integrated aspect of the workplace (supplemented by HVAC and ventilation solutions). This can entail strategic furniture placement that impedes too many people congregating in trafficked areas, the use of glass partitions to efficiently create solo work zones, implementing a cohesive ingress/egress system, and designing reception areas that hinder the development of queues.

None of this is simple. That’s why the kind of focused, evidence-based design support — and then subsequent project management and direct services — that Horgan General Contractor, Inc. can provide can be crucial in these interesting times.