Design firm prepares a handbook on how to make workspaces safe in the post-COVID World


Blank Slate, a Mumbai-based socially conscious collaborative design firm has designed ‘Back To work’, a handbook that presents design strategies to make workspaces safe from the spread of COVID-19.

The book is a cheat-sheet of affordable and doable retrofits for offices that can help us get our offices running without spreading the infection. We are getting back to work post-COVID and thus it is a matter of urgent concern to transform offices into safe workspaces. A guide book to make workspaces safe from the spread of COVID is precisely what we all needed. ‘BACK TO WORK’ is an open-source handbook of post-lockdown guidelines and design interventions for contemporary offices. This book presents design strategies, where living and working while social distancing will become the ‘New Normal’.

The handbook is a cheat-sheet of easy-to-apply solutions that can be retrofitted to existing workspaces of various scales and layouts. It suggests steps that are directly applicable and hence makes the book very practical. Some suggestions mentioned are reorganising furniture to add partitions and silos of ply, acrylic sheet, or glass between work desks. Small changes such as fixing the chair 6′ apart and name tagging them can prevent multiple exposures. The comprehensive handbook also handles the aspects of helping employees overcome isolation without connections like handshakes or embracing in a professional atmosphere. One of the ideas it suggests is using projectors in the common spaces for playing virtual games for entertainment and socialising instead of playing games like table tennis that require more physical contact between the players. All steps mentioned in the guidelines are directly applicable and hence makes the book very practical.

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  Here’s a sneak peek into the design solutions that the book offers for workspaces :

  • Lobby and Elevators
Social distancing strategies for the lobby and elevator
  • Conference Rooms
Revised conference room setup: Placing chairs 6ft apart

 

“We are a bunch of socially conscious millennial architects. We wanted to give back to society in these tough times like everyone else. This handbook was our way of helping with our expertise. And we hope more workspaces benefit out of it.”

Bina Bhatia, Co-founder, The Blank Slate.

Pratik and Bina, the co-founders of the The Blank Slide

We spoke to Bina Bhatia and Pratik Daulat, co-founders of Blank Slate. Here’s how the rest of our Conversation with Bina went :

What prompted you to create the handbook?

Our team is always keen to create a positive impact. The handbook is another product of our thought process to bring a positive change. The government retrofitting airports and other public spaces worked as validation for us to bring out such a guide in the emergency hour.

Throw some light on the context of the book and its practicality.

The handbook has easy-to-apply solutions that can be retrofitted to offices of all layouts and scales. Say reorganising furniture to add partitions and silos made of ply, acrylic sheet, or glass between work desks can work effectively. Small changes such as fixing the chair 6′ apart and name tagging them can prevent multiple exposures. Using chairs and desk covers out of newspaper or plastic and disposing of them after use can help reduce contamination. Regular sanitisation of the entry that is the first layer of contact in a building is crucial. These are all steps that are directly applicable and hence makes the book very practical.

You may also like to read: IIT Delhi alumnus develops a low-cost audio-tactile device that helps visually impaired kids comprehend real-life images

Does the book help employees overcome isolation without connections like handshakes or embracing in a professional atmosphere?

We have considered that while making this book. The comprehensive handbook handles these aspects in detail. One of the ideas we suggest is using projectors in the common spaces for playing virtual games for entertainment and socialising instead of playing games like table tennis that require more physical contact between the players.

Do you plan to bring in design solutions to administer effective distancing in public spaces as well?

Yes, we are also planning to create design solutions for public areas to practice physical distancing in social places. We understand that people will eventually go to these places. So it makes it even more important to bring the alternative retrofits out now. We are working and are hoping to make it available at the earliest. 

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