People-First Workplaces in the Wake of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a new normal for workplaces across the nation. As 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.

Experts in delivering dynamic corporate interiors solutions, our teammates have responded to the evolving needs of our clients and partners with people-fist and innovative building solutions.

“With many businesses returning to work, retrofitting office space has become an immediate need to mitigate risk to employees’ health and safety,” says Andrew Marshall, project executive. “By applying progressive design and construction strategies in collaboration with our trade partners, our teams are prepared to create safer environments for returning employees.”

De-densification is a central goal for many of Balfour Beatty’s corporate interiors clients. To meet this need, Balfour Beatty teams are prepared to help our clients create additional space between workstations by installing partitions and revising floor plans and seating arrangements. Wayfinding floor graphics also help direct foot traffic to ensure appropriate physical distancing.

Highly trafficked areas such as reception desks, copiers or water coolers can benefit from enhanced protective barriers such as custom-engineered acrylic or glass sneeze guards. With these retrofits, Balfour Beatty teams understand the importance of meeting the needs of all employees, ensuring solutions meet or exceed ADA requirements for wheelchairs, power scooters and other mobility aids.

Automation will also play a key role in creating the safer workplace of the future. Doors in high traffic areas can be retrofitted with auto openers installed with touchless buttons. Bathrooms can be updated with automatic flush valves, soap dispensers, faucets and paper towel dispensers or hand dryers.

Many Bluetooth and voice-activated options are available for other high touch building systems such as lighting, blinds and elevators.

Although indoor air quality is not a new topic in the workplace, COVID-19 has surfaced its importance in new and heightened ways. The WELL Building Standard, for example, includes strategies to optimize air quality by limiting the spread of pollutants and contaminants like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bacteria and mold.

As the definition of green buildings is evolving, so too are ventilation systems and air purification technologies. Negative Air Machines, for example, are being installed in many healthcare facilities. Long used in asbestos abatement projects, these machines remove contaminated air from sealed areas, preventing the spread of pathogens within the same structure, and then exhausting that filtered air to the outdoors. By establishing lines of collaboration across our diverse market sectors, Balfour Beatty’s interiors teams gain leading-edge insights on the future of HVAC systems in the workplace.

As champions of a people-first workplace experience, Balfour Beatty is honored to be entrusted with the delivery of safer workplaces. Whether our clients are seeking a renovation partner or a partner to provide front-end pricing and systems guidance, Balfour Beatty has the expertise to deliver the safer and smart workplace of the future.  

Learn more about Balfour Beatty’s global response to COVID-19.