Whether it’s for a group of fresh faces eager to learn or a roundup of employees furthering their knowledge, a training space is a dynamic area that differs from other meeting spaces. They’re already designed to be configured and rearranged on a whim, but today’s social distancing guidelines have posed a whole new set of challenges.
Because these dedicated training spaces often house a large quantity of people, physical changes are the most effective way to make sure everybody follows the rules. Several easy and inexpensive updates can enhance the flexibility of these spaces to meet requirements now and in the future.
1. Arrange Safe Seating
While some may have interactive or physical components, training sessions are often fairly idle in nature. Most tried-and-true furniture layouts can be modified, though they’ll need to be spread out in order to maintain adequate social distancing. Tables and desks that usually seat two should be reduced to single-person stations, and aisles between areas should be expanded to accommodate a greater breadth between students.
The easiest way to prevent the natural tendency to overcrowd is to simply remove the opportunity. Only provide the exact number of chairs and tables necessary, opting to put overflow furniture in storage. When outfitting a new space, choose a combination of nesting tables and stacking chairs in order to keep excess items neatly tucked away and ready for future use.
Combine the best of all worlds by opting for a series of tablet arm chairs throughout your space. These freestanding solutions are the modern-day answer to dated student desks, keeping your adult training environment from feeling juvenile or kitschy. This all-in-one solution often includes a shelf beneath the seat for storing personal belongings safe and out-of-the-way.
2. Stock Up on Supplies
For trainers and trainees alike, access to FDA-approved cleaning supplies is a necessity for cleaning before, during, and after training sessions. Disinfecting wipes are the easiest way to provide a quick solution that can be used in between more rigorous cleaning. Use individual canisters, along with an option for more heavy-duty solvents, within a cleaning caddy located at a central place in the room. At the entrance and at other aisles, a standing or wall-mounted canister can enhance access without crowding the area.
Consider providing additional personal protective equipment, available on an as-needed basis. Since this is a communal space, masks of any kind are recommended. A stocked box of disposable facial masks can prevent—but not eliminate—the spread of the COVID-19 virus, notably by preventing infected parties from exhaling airborne droplets. Non-latex gloves provide an added layer of protection, particularly when shared pens, paper, or other supplies are made available.
3. Place Visual Cues
Especially if you’re using tablet chairs with casters, creating visible-yet-unobtrusive guidelines is key. Use visual symbols on the floor to mark out areas that provide the recommended six feet of distance between workstations. Be particularly mindful of pathways and means of egress to ensure proper social distancing is maintained as trainees are filing in and out of the room.
Companies have ramped up the production of stickers and decals for different flooring types, providing solutions that won’t leave marks or goo on carpet, tile, wood, or laminate flooring. These are more visually pleasing than rough tape outlines. For temporary solutions, use removable tape to mark off appropriate spacing. Gaff tape, which often is used in movie sets, provides an ideal temporary fix.
4. Expand Power Options
When technology is involved—and these days, when is it not?—keeping charged up is more important than ever. Gathering tables around outlets, however, is a dangerous game. Seek out mobile power solutions that can keep outlets on hand and accessible to a well-stratified group of trainees. Power towers, often mid-height yet highly mobile structures, feature the combination of outlets and USB ports necessary to keep devices charged and ready.
To cut down on shared supplies, seek out a larger fleet of training accessories, such as in-house laptops or tablets. This will cut down on sharing between trainees and also accommodate multiple back-to-back sessions. To properly clean technology, all devices can be collected and easily disinfected while another group is using the space.
5. Prepare for Future Changes
Right now, social distancing guidelines are a rigid set of rules that need to be followed to ensure safety. In the future, it’s possible that these rules may become more or less strict. We need to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best; it’s possible the COVID-19 disease could reemerge this fall or at any other point in the future.
Modular, mobile solutions should be prioritized, allowing for social distancing guidelines to be expanded. As things calm down, these tables can be pushed together and rearranged, allowing for more people to use training rooms at a time. Companies with large, expansive lines of training tables and chairs will maintain stock of their more popular products, allowing for future purchasing to expand the capacity of training rooms.
As for disinfectants and cleaners, it’s clear that the need for better communal hygiene should be a mainstay. Implementing great solutions now can be carried on into the far future. Permanently mounted solutions and heavier-duty dispensers are investments in a much cleaner, healthier future.
Tonya Dybdahl is a space planning and design assistant manager for National Business Furniture based in Milwaukee, WI. Founded in 1975, the company offers quality furniture and service to corporate offices, government facilities, and more.