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WeWork has devised a plan to keep the tenants renting its office space safe as the U.S. economy reopens from a shutdown meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company, whose business model relies on small firms renting shared office space, will increase its sanitization procedures, prioritize personal space and post signs with health guidelines.
"While distancing may be part of our new normal, collaboration and connection remain more important than ever -- and having a safe place to do that is essential," WeWork said. "We want our members to know that they can make WeWork part of their day and still feel comfortable being with friends and family outside of work."
The move comes as local governments slowly loosen stay-at-home restrictions to get the now-battered economy back up and running.
Following are more details on the three key steps WeWork is taking to prepare for a new workplace reality:
1. Prioritizing personal space
WeWork is modifying its shared spaces with what it calls staggered seating and buffer zones. For WeWork's lounge areas, the company is rearranging seating to help tenants keep an appropriate distance away from each other. The company will also put signs in meeting rooms, normally collaborative workspaces, recommending seating arrangements.
2. Increased sanitization
WeWork has strengthened cleaning practices to ensure its staff and tenants stay healthy, aligning its policies with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and local health agencies.
The cleaning measures are as follows:
- Increased frequency and scope of daytime cleaning and sanitization
- Higher availability of hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, alcohol sprays, and gels throughout the building
- Provision of masks, gloves, and other protective equipment to staff and tenants
- Installation of touch-free soap dispensers in all restrooms and pantries
- Reduced touchpoints in pantries and expanded offerings of single-use cutlery, dairy products, and condiments
Additionally, "high touch" spaces such as print stations and phone booths will have wipe dispensers and hand sanitizer available. Restrooms, in particular, will receive more frequent and regimented cleanings throughout the day, according to the company's plan.
3. Behavioral signage
The heightened sanitation efforts will be aided by "strategically-placed" signs, emphasizing the importance of social distancing as well as proper hygiene and sanitation. Among the spaces to display the signs will be elevator lobbies, which are primary entry points into office spaces.
There will also be signs in lounge areas, meeting rooms and work nooks, all of which are normally used as collaborative workspaces. For now, the signs will dictate how many people can sit in the given area and where.
Aside from the three major steps, the company is trying to maximize the amount of clean air within its spaces. One way it's doing so is by working with engineering consulting firm Arup to improve indoor air quality using its air distribution systems.