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Back to Work: Space Planning in a COVID-19 World

As states begin to transition from shelter in place to open for business, we’re about to embark on yet another COVID-19 learning curve: How will we accommodate health and safety guidelines in our facilities and office buildings? How will colleges and universities safely welcome students back to campus? What will the "new normal" look like in terms of space planning and facility management?

There is no playbook for this because we’ve never done anything like this before. Guidance varies from state to state, organization to organization—which means we are all making this up as we go along. I’m a believer that, in most cases, two heads are better than one. So, I propose that we solve this problem together.

Here are the top 7 concerns we’re seeing and hearing related to post-pandemic space planning:

  1. Capacity. If the CDC recommends maintaining a 6-foot distance in the workplace—perhaps more for at-risk teammates—there will be a need to model and understand new space capacity issues. Depending on the space your organization uses, initial estimates show these recommendations could reduce your available capacity by 50-70 percent. Do you have the space to accommodate that shift? What needs to be rearranged to do so?
  2. Protection. In addition to space accommodation, space planners are also thinking about the need to protect people with underlying conditions, or anyone who may be more at risk of infection. What additional processes will you put in place to provide the extra protection these customers, students, visitors and colleagues who fall in these groups require?
  3. Disinfection. Your organization’s cleaning guidelines are about to level up. What will this mean for your janitorial schedule and protocols?
  4. Restricted Access. Some businesses and agencies need to restrict access or require personal protective equipment within certain zones of their buildings. How will you monitor and enforce that?
  5. Building Alterations. To continue to reduce the spread of the virus, many teams will need to install building alterations like new sanitation stations, motion sensitive lighting, and protective shields for customer service stations. Where should they be located and how will you maintain them once installed?
  6. Circulation Controls. To help enforce the new use of space, you may also need to install barriers and floor signage to control circulation patterns within the facility. Again, where should they be located and how will you maintain them once installed?
  7. Communication. You will need to communicate all these planned changes to anyone who may need access to your facilities. This may require new signage and web tools that help your facilities users understand the new rules of the road related to facilities use.

Whether you’re managing space for a city, a campus, or a utility, it’s likely that you’re thinking about these space planning and facilities operations issues. And we’re here to help.

If you’re an InVision customer, you already have the tools you need to start working on your space adjustments and planning. Check out this article to get started—and don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to discuss your questions and ideas. And if you’re not using any facility management software today, that’s okay. All you need is a floor plan and we can start visualizing your back-to-work options. Let’s connect to get started.

I’d love to hear what other issues you’re facing related to space management and facilities operations—and I’d especially appreciate hearing any solutions you have to share. Please email me directly at We’re all in this together.