How to design your post COVID-19 office signage

On Sunday 10th May Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, laid out the beginnings of how our lives will start to slowly go back to an unknown normal. As internal communicators we might be tasked like I was with thinking about and laying out the guidelines for designing and writing workplace signage that would help employees feel assured and safe when they are in the offices. My main tip is that all the messages in our signage should be in your face type of messages, what do I mean? below are my thoughts.

First, we need to remember is that this is a huge behavior and culture change that we are asking employees to adopt. Our interactions, ways of moving through space, ways of working, ways of traveling and ways of thinking will 100% shift and through signage or as Gensler called it “ways of findings” we as internal communications could help ease this pressure and instill the physiological safety our colleagues would need.

Second, the messages within these signage should be a combination of health, safety, care, assurance, and empowerment.

1.   Care & empathy: we care about you, so if you are sick please go home and if you need to speak to someone about your fears we have the resources for you.

2.   Assurance: we assure you that all the measures have been taken into account ahead of opening the workplaces. Your health and safety is our priority

3.   Empowerment: if you do not want to be here, you do not have to.

Third, we need to bare in mind that employees will feel anxious about their personal health and the health of their loved ones. This is why the tone of voice used when designing workplace signage need to be gentle, caring and assuring to reflect our sense of community, values and purpose. For example Instead of alarming messaging such as “Put on a mask!” try signage that is less harsh, and illustrates how new behaviors might benefit the collective, such as “Let’s wear masks.” or “lets work together to keep each other healthy” Gensler

Fourth, We need to think of where these signage will be placed, so take a tour of the office before you start designing your messages and signage and think about the spaces which will be the most populated. Some of the best places to place your signage include:

1.   Close to constant touch surfaces such as door handles and lift buttons

2.   Stairways exits and entrances

3.   At desks next to monitors, telephones, chair arm rests

4.   Smoking areas

Finally, some of the most unusual topics which you can tackle in your signage could include

1.   How to correctly wear masks

2.   How to use gloves and dispose of them

3.   How to wash hands

4.   Where and how to sit in a meeting room

5.   How to queue and where to stand

6.   Where to stand when you are in the elevator

7.   How to clean the hotdesk after using it

8.   Arrows in the floor to guide employees when moving within the office

The above are all about the employee’s journey from the minute they leave the comfort and safety of their home to entering the workplace. So do take this into consideration when designing on your messages, tone, look and feel of your signage not only for your current employees but for your future talent who will join you. They all need to feel part of a community and understand your company’s values and purpose through your signage.

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Gihan Hyde
Gihan Hyde is an award winning corporate communication expert with a deep passion for internal communication. Her roles spanned different organisations including HSBC, Barclays, M&S, and Department for International Trade, and the Riyadh Metro Project.
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