Parallel Design Group Parallel Design Group

Thought Leadership

Tactical Safety & Wellness Practices to Consider When Re-entering your Workspace

Through an unexpected and devastating global pandemic, Parallel Design Group is committed to leading our clients well as we encourage forward-thinking ideas and practices in interior design and business as we serve in the space we love, to the best of our ability.

In our first Covid19 Blog Series post, we discussed how business leaders can lead amongst uncertainty in returning back to the workplace. This article talks about how those who lead organizations can provide a sense of safety and assurance for employees who understandably might be hesitant to return to their workplaces, which previously were places of comfort and normalcy.

As our team keeps up-to-date with the City and State regulations re: the stay-at-home order, re-entering back into our places of work, and how we can be safe in our places of work, we thought it would be helpful to prepare a few practical steps that all businesses can follow. We are also willing and able to provide our specific interior design recommendations for both new and past clients, on a case-by-case basis. But, because every space and the circumstances within are different, it is important that we speak to our clients directly to provide our best professional opinion for next steps.

In this article, we will share a quick hit list of safety and wellness advice/strategies that we have learned and discussed with others within our industry re: teleworking, staggering work flow/times, technology sharing limitations, additional cleaning protocol, temperature control, and more. Should you want to share Thought Leadership regarding this topic or others, feel free to email us at


As a business owner or a decision maker in your position, you can encourage the choice for employees to choose teleworking, so long as their productivity and efficiency remains strong. Empowering people to make their own decision about where to work given the current health crisis gives employees a greater sense of security within their place of work. The end result? Providing a higher level of comfort to employees across the board because they know their employer values them as a person; in addition to their and their families’ own health, safety and well-being.

Re-thinking technology is key as we navigate this crisis. Previously technological devices that were shared amongst staff should not be normal protocol during this time. Encouraging employees to use only their devices, whether they be iPads, laptops, etc, will provide a level of security against the risk of transmitting germs amongst devices.

Further thoughts related to technology would be to consider providing motion sensor devices and eliminating mandatory touch buttons. Sensor-activated controls could allow less people to touch highly-used surfaces.


Because the ability to work from home will undoubtedly increase, we still need to be clear in our communication to staff. Creating mandatory safe distances within the office and at in-person meetings, even if eventually not mandated by the government will be a safe practice for all to follow.

Additionally, considering staggering start times for employees to limit the amount of people in the office at the same time is an option that many businesses are considering as we approach re-opening in the future. Even returning at half occupancy to ensure proper distancing will make a big difference, no matter the size of your team. This could also look like employees working in the office on various days throughout the week. Not sure what this means.

Within the office, staggering desks so that employees are naturally further apart and aren’t facing one another will be helpful. Sitting every other chair in conference rooms as you leave empty chairs in place will keep necessary space between users. Lounge areas, and multi-purpose rooms by way of limiting occupancy will also create more security and safety. Physically moving the furniture around in communal areas and posting signs with regulations will empower employees to follow the occupancy guidelines set for them.


Workers returning to the office can definitely expect additional cleaning procedures in common areas. We expect to see touchless hand sanitizer stations in most lobbies and lots increased cleaning and wiping down high touch areas. Within tenant spaces, creating a protocol of disinfecting more frequently will encourage confidence. In our office, we have mandated that when you get up from your desk, that employees wash their hands first. That way anything employees touch after that is clean. We have also asked that items like light switches and high-touch areas be treated like dirty dishes; if you dirtied it, clean it.

Additionally, encouraging or supplying individuals with their own set of disinfection wipes or hand sanitizers will minimize potential spread and allow users to create their own habits to make themselves comfortable.


We cannot expect our employees and clients to follow the same rules, as everyone will handle this pandemic differently, based on their own needs and experience. However, we can encourage business leaders and office managers to do their part and make their best efforts to communicate the following procedures to staff to minimize the risk of spreading Covid19:

  • Encourage virtual meetings.
  • For in-person meetings, make masks mandatory for employees and clients.
  • Maintain physical distance; do not handshake, hug or high-five.
  • Do not eat in shared communal spaces, such as a shared company kitchen or break area.
  • Temporarily close shared vending areas and company provided snacks to minimize high touch areas.
  • Implement no-touch fixtures where feasible within your office space.
  • Increase frequency of washing hands and utilize touchless hand-sanitizing stations.
  • Utilize design products that are able to be disinfected. Keep in mind that cleaning and disinfecting are not the same.
  • Consider implementing new features within your office that help to keep shoes clean, such as sanitizing walk-off mats.


Be proactive in asking employees if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, shortness of breath or chills. The EEOC has made it clear that employers may engage in temperature checking for employees. Although it is important to note that COVID-19 positive individuals may be contagious, but may not, in fact, have a fever.

Additionally, be very specific with instruction to employees as to what is and what is not acceptable inside the office, recognizing that this will hopefully go back to ‘normal’, sooner rather than later. Specific instruction should be spelled out in a presentation to employees and also reiterated through signage. These changes for the health and safety of those working in shared business spaces could have a lasting effect on how offices are thoughtfully designed for years to come.

We will be sure to share more as we closely watch the change in environment and as we adhere to city, state and CDC guidelines.

Thanks for tuning in. Be well + be safe.