Path Forward Series Part 2: How Kimball is Retrofitting and Redesigning our Corporate Office

As we Reimagine what's next for the workplace, our focus has been on how we respond Now. We've crafted quick & effective solutions to Retrofit existing products and Redesigned our spatial interactions for a safer and more comfortable return to work. 
 
We are all in this together and Kimball wants to support you in any way we can. Within Kimball International, our Response Task Force put extensive attention into planning for our entire operation, and we want to share that with you for potential guidance. Part 2 of the Path Forward Series focuses on the workplace adjustments that have been made at our Corporate Headquarters to prepare for employees returning to the office. For more information on how we prepared the workplace from a building, safety, and cleaning aspect, read our Workplace Readiness Checklist.
 
Workspace Design Modifications
We reviewed the overall footprint of the building to assess if our current work areas met the 6’ social distancing requirements. We were fortunate in the fact that ALL employee workspaces met this criteria when employees are seated at their desk. There are some areas with a higher traffic flow of people going in and out of neighborhoods, so we provided those people with side Clamp-Mount Privacy Screens to give them added comfort. All screens are either at 24” or 30” above worksurface height to provide appropriate separation. 

Our newly designed and easy-to-install Divider Screens offer the ability to quickly retrofit existing products. The Privacy Screens were mounted to end panels along common corridors, Floor Screens were added between employees at benching areas, as well as side screens previously mentioned. In one open benching area, the use of End Panel Screens, Side Screens, Set-On Surface Screens and Floor Screens were utilized. 

To ensure that the small huddle spaces in some neighborhoods were not used for small meetings, we removed the seating for all but one person to utilize these rooms for additional privacy. 

 
 
Common Area Modifications
For the Heartwood Hub and conference spaces, we ensured social distancing by placing circles on the floor plan (similar to the open plan stations) and removed the seating where this requirement could not be met. We placed signage on the floor to ensure seating remains 6’ apart when using these areas. 
The dining areas in the Hub are the same, seating has been removed to meet the spatial distancing requirements. At the time of this writing, the employee kitchen, theater, and fitness studio remain closed to employees until we feel it is safe for employees to convene in these areas.

Hands-free door openers have been placed on all restroom doors so that employees can open the doors with their feet. By placing partitions between sinks, we are making it easier for employees to maintain a 6’ safety distance.
 


Temperature Checks, Signage & Traffic Flow
Entrances to the facilities have been limited for health screenings as employees enter. Temperature checks are required at the beginning of each workday.

Signage has been placed around the building on floors, doors, bathrooms, and digital signage to remind employees of new protocols. We have reinforced strict hygiene elements that include access to hand sanitizer and wipes throughout the entire facility and hand washing reminders.  To maintain safe social distancing when moving around the building, we recommend a clockwise direction traffic flow. If in 2-way traffic, stay on the right side when passing to maintain spatial distance. In shallow hallways, we added markers that instruct employees to stop in a certain area and yield to a person that is already coming down the hall to ensure 6’ distancing is adhered to.
 

Employee Guidelines & Support
We have established several guidelines for employees as they return to the office. They must maintain social distance and use disinfectant wipes on any surface they touch. Masks must be worn at all times when outside of assigned work areas and/or areas where they are not able to maintain the 6’ spatial distance from others. We have also provided a New Workplace Toolkit to each employee with information on what has changed, PPE, and other necessary communications.

One other unique thing that was done at Kimball International was the establishment of a HOTLINE for employees to call or e-mail that is staffed by our HR professionals to address any questions or concerns that an employee might have as well as to report an illness, symptoms, testing results or concerns about others that they may have been in contact with. The HOTLINE is a confidential resource for employees and a key best practice going forward.
 
Our return to work plan is a phased approach, with safety and comfort of employees being the top priorities. We will be bringing employees back in waves and will evaluate each one for potential changes and enhancements as we move forward to determine when the next group will return.
 
Planning for the Next
As we mentioned in Part 1 of this series, we are embracing the unknown during these unique times with integrity, determination, and an eye toward what lies ahead. Our path forward continues to evolve, and we are planning to do a more in-depth case study in the Next phase to share a more comprehensive look into our overall plan and ongoing efforts to support the Now, Near and Next. Stay tuned and check back here for the latest updates and additions: kimball.com/a-path-forward/.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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