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Design your way back to the office

COVID-19 is forcing companies to reimagine how 'the office' will function in both the short-term and long-term.  Many companies are slowly opening their offices up to employees again, and the big question is whether existing workplaces are up to the challenge. How are we going to maintain social distancing measures to keep everyone safe?

We’ve been putting our minds together to find solutions to help organizations across the world who have decided to go back to an office working setup get back to work safely. Follow our steps below to start exploring your journey back to the office.

Step 1: Create a 3D model of your workplace

Design your way back to the office

The easiest way to understand and discuss the capacity of your workplace is by creating a 3D model. Floor plans are sometimes hard to understand but everyone speaks 3D! SketchUp is the fastest and easiest to use tool to create a 3D model and collaborate with your team without being in the same space. 

Get started by bringing in a CAD plan, or just an image of your space and start creating it from scratch. If you are not sure how to do that, try this SketchUp Campus course on 3 Ways to Boost Your CAD to 3D Workflow. If you are ready for more, follow Aaron along with this Skill Builder on Architectural Modeling Tips.  

Step 2: Populate your model with accurate 3D assets

Populate your model with accurate 3D assets

(Image credit: Rosanna Mataloni)

Once the digital model of your office is ready, add furniture, equipment, and assets, to make your 3D model more accurate and representative of the actual space. With over 4 and a half million pre-built models in SketchUp’s 3D Warehouse, you’re very likely to find the exact same furniture you have in your office so you don't have to model them from scratch. Talk about a time saver!

Don’t worry if you don’t know the exact furniture you have in the office. With Categories, it is now easier than ever to find assets for specific uses such as Furniture for Business & Institutional

Step 3: Optimize your space for the new social distancing norm

Optimize your space for the new social distancing norm

Now it’s time to customize your model to fit your needs. With SketchUp Extensions, you can add functionalities to SketchUp to suit your modeling needs, including optimizing your space for social distancing.

To prove that, we asked our friends at AgiliCity to quickly hack their popular urban design extension Modelur and turn it into an alert system that notifies the user once objects like chairs or even people are placed too close together. Check out the CoviDistance Extension page, download the tool for free, and start using it in your space!

If you need to make a custom extension head over to our Developer Center to get started or ask a member of our community to help.

You can also check out some cool ideas from our community on how to rearrange existing furniture to fit the new social distancing norms. The model below is by Mihai Stancu:

Step 4: Get consensus on the new layout

Get consensus on the new layout

(Image credit: Rosanna Mataloni)

Dealing with change can be hard. After months of working remotely, your team might find it challenging to adapt to the new environment. So what better way to help everyone to get familiar with the new layout than by sharing a digital twin of the adjusted workplace.

Get your team up to speed on the upcoming changes in the workplace by uploading and sharing your model via Trimble Connect. Trimble Connect is included in all SketchUp Subscriptions and everyone can join a project for free by creating a Trimble ID. With Trimble Connect, your team can add their comments to the 3D model and voice any concerns they might have. 

Never used Trimble Connect before? We got you covered!

Step 5: Turn your updated SketchUp model into floor plans with LayOut

SketchUp model into floor plans with LayOut

(Image credit: Rosanna Mataloni)

Once you get the green light from your team, turn your 3D SketchUp model into a 2D document in seconds using LayOut. With LayOut, you can generate drawings to scale and add annotations, dimensions, or tags. What’s even better is that your document stays dynamically connected to your 3D model so any changes you make in 3D are automatically reflected in your 2D drawings. Once finished, you can share your LayOut document as a pdf, dwg, or even an on-screen presentation.

Get started with our LayOut Essentials SketchUp Campus course and if you want to learn more, head over to our brand new Let’s Talk Layout YouTube series.

Step 6: Design and deploy your operation plan

Design and deploy operation plan

If you are involved in workplace management, you know that space layout is just one of many things that need to change to safeguard your team.  Splitting your workforce into groups, and managing logistics and services are equally important operational considerations. 

Trimble’s Real Estate Group has the technology and tools to help organizations optimize the utilization of properties and management of people:

  1. Capacity and distancing planning - Automatically generate social-distancing compliant layouts.
  2. Rotating to de-densify - Efficiently split your teams into groups and formalize a rotating schedule.
  3. Deploy, track, audit - Track the effectiveness and safety of the ‘new normal’.
  4. Dynamically schedule space - Empower the occupants to decide where they can sit safely using Trimble space scheduling.

What are the ways your team is adapting to physical distancing norms in the office? Share them with our community!


About the Author

Before joining SketchUp, Aris worked as an Architect-Engineer and Urban Designer for more than ten years. He is fascinated with the way stuff works, and can't stop envisioning what the future will look like!

Profile Photo of Aristodimos Komninos