Office/Workspace Layout

Information reviewed and updated 18th January 2022

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In shared offices the aim should always be to maintain 2m physical distancing between occupants. The wearing of face coverings in lieu of 2m physical distancing in an office environment is not appropriate; offices must be set up such that staff can always maintain a distance of 2m apart. If this is not possible to achieve, but for operational reasons it is necessary to have staff physically share an office, then physical distancing between staff may be reduced below 2m if screens are used to separate such staff from each other. Consequently face coverings should not be required when seated in shared offices.

However, when moving around a shared office or visiting a colleague in their office, a face covering must be worn.

Due to the requirement for maintaining 2m physical distancing in some shared offices it may not be possible for all participants to share the office at the same time. In such circumstances Managers may have to allocate different persons or work pods to the office on different days, with staff working from home or located elsewhere when not allocated to the office. Information on this model of hybrid working is available from UCD HR.

When considering office layout, the following is suggested:

  • Maintain 2m physical distancing (measured on a ‘nose to nose’ basis) between users
  • Consider circulation routes to reduce the requirement for physical interaction between people
  • Consider how material is stored; avoid the need for persons to come into close contact with each other when accessing material
  • Remove the need for persons to ‘stand over’ others when accessing stored material, using photocopiers, etc.
  • If possible, avoid seating persons directly face to face. This is not essential when 2m physical distancing is being maintained but may help reduce the risk further.
  • If 2m physical distancing cannot be achieved and it is essential that staff occupy the same space at the same time, then they must be separated by screens. The use of face coverings is not an appropriate measure for continued occupation of the same office space by persons who cannot maintain 2m distancing.
  • Consider using COVID-19 signage, e.g. physical distancing signage, freely available from HSE and Government websites, to aid in setting out the office layout.
  • Provide cleaning materials for persons to clean their desk and workspace