The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a new normal for workplaces across the nation. As states are reopening and return to work strategies are being implemented, businesses are examining every detail of their workplace environments with the health and safety of their teammates in mind.
For Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company in Seattle and experts in delivering dynamic corporate interiors solutions, unprecedented times called for resiliency and a rapid response in service to our clients and partners.
Shortly after the pandemic hit U.S. shores, a large international retailer approached our Seattle team to retrofit their corporate offices. Within 24 hours of receiving the client’s request, our team developed an innovative plan to transform these spaces into safer environments for employees.
“With many businesses returning to work, retrofitting office space has become an immediate need to mitigate risk to employees’ health and safety,” says Don Severide, business development director in Seattle. “By applying progressive design, procurement and construction strategies, our teams were able to rapidly retrofit the large international retailer’s workplaces and create safer environments for returning employees.”
De-densification was a central goal for the large international retailer. To meet this need, Balfour Beatty created additional space between workstations, which were previously in close proximity, and installed wayfinding floor graphics to navigate foot traffic and maintain the appropriate physical distancing throughout the office and common areas. Additionally, the Seattle team designed, sourced and installed protection barriers throughout the buildings.
In less than a day, Balfour Beatty conducted an on-site consultation to identify high traffic areas in the client’s offices that required additional safety barriers. In response, team members installed engineered acrylic sneeze guards that were also designed to accommodate ADA requirements for wheelchairs, power scooters and more. The sneeze guards at the retailer’s Washington-state offices were such a success that Balfour Beatty fabricated and sourced nearly 3,000 additional units to retrofit more than 200 of the client’s office locations across the U.S. and into Canada.
“What started out as a request to retrofit our client’s Washington-state corporate offices quickly grew into fulfilling construction needs across North America and beyond,” says Don. “In less than three weeks, we were sourcing our fabricated safety barriers across the country at a rapid-fire rate with methodical precision. Our client has been extremely impressed with our coordination efforts thus far and valued our designs enough to request additional referrals of fabrication drawings to be sent to their offices overseas.”
Balfour Beatty is currently working to support the client’s global operations by fulfilling warehouse stocking orders and procuring and shipping additional custom-engineered acrylic barriers.
Retrofitting corporate offices to COVID-19 safety standards can be a tremendous challenge, but Balfour Beatty’s people-first commitment to achieving Zero Harm served as a guidepost to deliver essential, critical work for our valued client. We are grateful for the opportunity to provide our expertise to further fulfill our client’s interior construction needs, and we commend our teammates for their resiliency in delivering a successful and timely design solution that will provide a safer environment for employees returning to the workplace.
Learn more about Balfour Beatty’s global response to COVID-19.