Office design to ensure social distancing and help Unilever overcome COVID-19

The outbreak of Covid-19 epidemic created unprecedented challenges to the global economy as well as to Vietnam, leaving many businesses at risk of bankruptcy and negatively affecting the working environment of employees. Designing a workspace to ensure employees’ health and setting up ‘a new normal’ in a company’s daily activities is a prioritzed during the epidemic.

Facing the serious situation caused by the epidemic, Unilever Vietnam has quickly applied measures of social distancing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, while maintaining normal operations and stability in the company. 

Checking body temperature daily and conducting medical reports 

Unilever’s office design is supplemented with a thermographic camera system at the front desk and it can quickly check the temperature of the person who just has entered the office. This system helps screening for potential infections right from the entrance. Every person entering Unilever office, regardless of whether he/she is a customer, employee or business partner, must make a medical report and have his/her temperature checked before entering. 

Body temperature checking camera
Body temperature checking camera and distancing guide

Office design for the aisle dividing 

At the office, the aisle is divided for different types of people: customers, company partners, employees. At the exit, entry and turn points, arrows will be added. Crowded areas as elevators, corridors … are also monitored and managed, limiting the number of people per entry. 

Added arrows to guide throughout Unilever's office design
Added arrows to guide throughout the office space

Office design keeps employees a safe distance at work 

To ensure safety for employees, Unilever has rearranged the office furniture to keep a safe distance according to regulations. Some measures have been implemented such as placing seats at the workplace at distance, increasing distance, actively reducing the number of seats in common spaces to avoid gathering in groups. The Office design in common areas as meeting rooms of departments/divisions, conference rooms, co-working spaces, resting spaces etc. and the restrictions on the use and number of people entering and leaving each time are imposed. In addition, in order for employees to comply with safe distances, the office interior designers have used additional stickers to guide the seating areas and positions for employees. 

The office interior design are arranged by safe distance in Unilever Office
The office interior design are arranged by safe distance
 The stickers helps the employees stand 2m apart
The stickers in the corridor helps the employees stand 2m apart

Cleaning and disinfecting the entire office furniture

Unilever has carried out the cleaning and disinfection for the entire office space as well as has arranged antibacterial hand sanitizers everywhere in the office, especially in spaces where people enter and leave regularly and community areas. 

Providing employees with antibacterial hand sanitizers
Providing employees with antibacterial hand sanitizers everywhere

Thanks to the flexibility in the office design for social distancing, Unilever can still operate normally during the most severe disease situation. The smart and well-arranged office design helps people work effectively and interact well with each other but still comply with the social distancing and ensure safety for each employee and for the whole company. Unilever’s immediate response and office design strategy are valuable practical lessons on how to respond to an unexpected crisis for small and large businesses in the country.