When this pandemic began, one of the first things that we did was to require that all non-warehouse staff work from home. As time went on, and as New York has loosened its restrictions, we’ve moved all of the staff back to the warehouse and us owners have resumed our regular rotating schedule.
Even with our rotating schedule, our office wasn’t quite spaced out well enough to provide everyone a socially distanced 6 ft between desks. Part of the problem is that when we built the offices as a part of our 2017 expansion, our office staff consisted of three full-time employees and us three owners rotating in. At most we’d have six people. There was plenty of space for at least four more without feeling crammed. When we expanded in early 2019 again, we didn’t think twice about adding office space because that had remained unchanged.
In the time since we have added three desks to that space, with plans for a fourth. We have two Chromebook stations for our warehouse staff to use, a desk for a graphic designer, and plans for another desk for customer service. While that setup would have been possible in our office pre-COVID, it’s a no-go now.
We made the obvious decision: utilize the conference room as office space. We moved the conference room table and chairs out into the warehouse to free up space. We then moved me, our customer service employee, and the desk for the planned customer service employee into the conference room. One of the challenges of training someone new is that you can’t hover over each other’s screen anymore, which is something you do often when teaching customer service. Thankfully, our conference room has a mounted TV with Chromecast support built in. This will allow any of the three of us to cast their screen to the everyone else.
With that out of the way, we were able to space out the remaining seven desks in the office pretty easily. We ordered two new desks to space out the Chromebook stations better, but otherwise we were able to accomplish this without spending any money. If we absolutely needed to add another desk, one or both of the Chromebook stations could be moved out into the warehouse (there is already one out there for incoming inventory).
The downside of course is the lack of a conference room. We aren’t having any meetings anytime soon, however it was still nice to have a dedicated area to talk privately for employee reviews or HR stuff. For the time being, we’ll just have to use the break room or find an empty spot in the warehouse to conduct that type of business. If this goes on for a prolonged period of time, we could construct a new conference room somewhere. A small compromise given what’s happening in the world. I’m just thankful that we had the conference room available as a space that could be easily flexed into office space.