A Happy and Healthy Return to Work

Navigating through this time of crisis, and the unknown future of workplace design, here at Ocee we draw on the knowledge gained from a vast and diverse network of global clients, expert collaborations and architects to understand the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it will have on how office spaces are designed in the future.

This guide, and floor plan, intends to share knowledge and help organisations in returning employees to work safely through three important criteria: Health and wellbeing, Space Division and Zone Reconfiguration.

Our aim is to empower choice and allow people to find out what works for them; a safe work environment that follows new safety guidelines and will enable people to connect, create and collaborate without compromising social distancing. Or the feeling of being happy at work.

Let’s not forget the power of human connections in helping us be the best we can be.

Health and Wellbeing

Feeling safe at work is fundamental. People need to be safe in order to feel safe. Returning safely to work requires a variety of choice and flexibility in the office.

It is about empowering choice – not prescribing. Allowing people to find out what works for them.

Creating adaptable spaces means the space itself and its contents must evolve as people drift in and out during work hours.

Accommodating different needs, feelings, and work styles is essential. Reducing density is vital as is a common-sense approach to frequent cleaning, smaller meetings and the ability to work from home.

All these actions help to prevent the transmission of disease.

Space Division

Defining areas to collaborate, catch up or work alone. Using screens, panels, or alternative division, such as biophilia, to create barriers can transform any open-plan office space into agile workstations which adhere to social distancing regulations.

By dividing space, you provide acoustic and visual privacy and make your open-plan space more purposeful.

Zone Reconfiguration

Making quick changes to the layout of the room enables adaptability and full utilisation of a given space. Rearranging and reorientation of workstations will play a big part in the success of the space and its ability to support meaningful work.

As social distancing rules change and the user needs develop, the physical spaces must adapt.

The ability to change and reconfigure to suit the activity needs to be made as simple as possible. The principles of activity-based working are still relevant and effective, but only if the spaces lend themselves to reconfiguration.

Zone 1

Zone 1


A single person touch-down workstation with partition allows for open plan solution and privacy at the same time. The flexibility of this solution offers agility and adaptability within the open-plan space because of the easy to reconfigure setup.

Zone 2

Zone 2


Decreased density around the table enables people to work together with a safe distance between them. As social distancing rules change so additional seating can be added enabling more people to work together. Grouped individual soft seating softens the space and allows for almost face-to-face interaction while maintaining social distancing.

Zone 3

Zone 3


Fabricks in-between desk space creates natural separation allowing people to feel part of the team. The acoustic features add calm to the area. This option creates the illusion of a considered design solution as opposed to creating barriers. When social distancing regulations change, so can your space. Fabricks adapts to changes in the built environment through simple and quick reconfiguration.

Zone 4

Zone 4


A relaxing break out space prompts human interaction or a place to just pause. Incorporate ‘do not disturb’ options with acoustic properties to shelter from the hub of the office to offer a space for head down focused work, a sanctuary or an area to hide. By adding elements of biophilia you provide the associated benefits to wellbeing.

Zone 5

Zone 5


A line up of single panel-based desks eliminates shared desking and reduces face-to-face orientation. The space division complies with social distancing regulations and provides a private space for those in need of focused task solving within the office.

Zone 6

Zone 6


Reducing visual and acoustic noise enables productivity, reduces stress, and enhances wellbeing. Taking time out to reflect is key. Moveable furniture with castors empowers choice and allows for quick changes providing an opportunity to create shared and private spaces. By using small modular pieces that slot together perfectly, organic shapes that support chance meetings can be placed into the workspace.

Zone 7

Zone 7


Video conferencing enables remote collaboration. This space allows four people together according to social distancing measures, and more participants online, whether it be a private meeting space or room for creativity.

Zone 8

Zone 8


The adaptability of any given space is imperative. Create rooms with multi-function capabilities, Meeting, training, focus, board meeting or video conferencing. Choose furniture which allows for easy reconfiguration.

Zone 9

Zone 9


Create a relaxed zoned off area for social interaction, or just a simple change of scenery to recharge, catch up or chat. Customise soft seating upholstery to indicate appropriate seating according to social distance regulations with either a back or corner cushion in a different colour choice.

Additional Safety Guidelines

Cleaning and Surfaces

Materials and finishes should be selected to be easily cleaned; they should be hard, smooth and resistant to appropriate cleaning chemicals. Surfaces should be free from irregular features (nooks and crannies) that may harbor contamination.

Specify fabric and finishes with antimicrobial properties and/or bleach-cleanable surfaces

We recommend thorough, conspicuous and scrupulously implemented cleaning protocols.

Fabrics and Finishes

Look at materials like leather, vinyl and plastic that are easy to clean. Wood should also be considered.

It is a warm and natural material that is easy to clean.

We recommend all soft surfaces such as seating upholstery and vertical surface fabrics to be cleaned according to our fabric partners’ guidelines.





Communication is paramount.

Floor, and wall graphics should be integrated to help people with wayfinding, direction and maximum occupancy in a given room or area.

Develop presentation material to be consistent with social distancing regulations for each work zone.

Create and incorporate collateral with new health and safety protocols; Sanitisation, disinfection guidelines, symptoms and desired behaviours for social distancing and cleanliness.


The coronavirus pandemic will inevitably change the way organisations operate in the future.

This calls for new approaches, new perspectives and new ways of thinking office design, office furniture and remote working.

The way we work, learn, meet or engage has changed fundamentally.

We believe that the furniture we design and the spaces we fill should enrich and inspire the lives of the organisations and individuals that use them, despite enduring this unprecedented global crisis.

We will keep a close eye on how this development is progressing and what impact it will have on workspace environments.

Let’s furnish the world better...

Pertinent now more than ever, don’t you think?

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