Everyday we talk about social distancing in enclosed spaces, public spaces and in any occasion where people gather. By default, offices fall into this category and as such should be rethought to allow proper prevention and safety for those who work in it.

On this subject, Assufficio has published a useful guide for the Italian market, promoting its circulation day after day, on which Frezza has collaborated too. Assufficio is the national association of furniture and office furnishing industries, which gathers together over 140 manufacturers, representing 80% of the sector’s turnover in Italy.

Architect Gianluigi Sacchetti, Frezza’s Technical Furnishing Director, contributed to the drafting of the manual. We interviewed him to understand the most important guidelines at this particular moment in time.

The proposed guidelines refer to regulations already contained in other publications, and in particular to:

– UNI 11534:2014 Office furniture – Office workplace – Criteria for the arrangement of furniture

– UNI EN 527-1:2011 Office furniture – Work tables and desks – Part 1: Dimensions

What are the types of desk that require a workspace
re-designing?

First of all, we need to evaluate which workstations don’t allow to keep a 1.15m radius circular area around the individual (defined as an area of interpersonal distance).

Overlaps in the designated circular area are allowed, as we can see from the explanatory drawings in the guide.

We have adopted various drawings in the guide to try to be as clear as possible, indicating for example what additional measures should be taken with desks near corridors.

In which cases is it advisable to install a partition screen and how?

Partition screens are necessary when the safety distance between individuals cannot be respected due to lack of space (e.g. for side-by-side workstations or for desks of reduced depth) or due to a continuous movement of people during the day.

The height of the dividing screen should be assessed according to the needs of the specific office: for example, it should be higher if there are often visitors standing next to the desk during the day.

In general, the size of the workstation will define the number and size of required dividing screens, in accordance with the guidelines.

What measures should be implemented in the meeting rooms?

In this case there are no defined guidelines, because the tables can be configured in different ways and have different sizes. In order to maintain the adequate distancing, however, it will be necessary to:

  • eliminate or leave one chair out of every two empty;
  • provide signs indicating which seats can be occupied and/or the distances to be maintained, bearing in mind all directives contained in the various Prime Ministerial Decrees and any additional indications that the various companies might adopt.

How can distance be best maintained in the case of front office workstations?

For workstations where there is public contact, transparent dividing screens must be provided, with a minimum height that guarantees the safety of the individual (600mm for seated visitors, 800mm for standing ones). It is also advisable, in this case, to erect signs, together with checking on the number of people waiting, in order to avoid overcrowding.

The complete Assufficio guide can be downloaded on this link: https://www.federlegnoarredo.it/ContentsFiles/layout_ufficio_distaziamento_sociale.pdf 

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