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Adapting your workplace to the 1.5m economy

Workplace norms we once knew are a thing of the past. In light of COVID-19, businesses need to change the way they operate to be safe and remain competitive. It is evident that digital transformation is on the rise. But for many companies, remaining remote is not necessarily a long-term option.

So how can businesses adapt to create a new normal?

In this instance, we’re seeing new vocabulary emerge such as ‘flatten the curve’, ‘herd immunity’ and ‘self-regulation’. These new terms lend themselves to the world’s overall shift into a concept called ‘The 1.5m Economy’.

Let’s take a look at what a 1.5m economy may mean for businesses and how your business can adapt to this new state of work.


This new concept gets its name from the familiar COVID-19 physical-distancing regulation. As a result, society is now having to adjust to remain connected whilst being physically apart.

Part of this adjustment includes how businesses will approach re-opening their workplaces.

Importantly, the question isn’t whether we should return to our place of work, but what kind of workplace will this look like? And how can we make workplaces as safe as possible?

Above all, these questions show that the 1.5m economy is not intended as a quick fix. It is a concept that aims to activate the economy whilst keeping the workforce safe in the long-run.


Every business is different. Nevertheless, there are a few measures all companies can put in place to make their workspace as safe as possible going forward.

Here are a few best practices we’ve kept in mind for the recent re-opening of our Kloof Street, The Harrington, Tabakhuis, West Street and Firestation coworking spaces:

Screening & Cleaning:

  1. Designate one entrance and exit door only.
  2. Require employees to bring their own crockery and cutlery to the office.
  3. Screen all people entering the workplace for a high temperature and signs of COVID-19.
  4. Frequently clean touched areas such as door handles and light switches.
  5. Place hand sanitiser dispensers throughout the space, especially in communal areas.
  6. Encourage no-touch payments with mobile payment apps.

Workspace Measures:

  1. Require 1.5m between employees at all times.
  2. Incorporate floor markings in waiting areas to enforce physical distancing.
  3. Include workspace dividers to create more space between people.
  4. Remove unnecessary chairs and desks to encourage more space.
  5. If employees don’t have a designated desk, use disposable desk sheets to protect the next user from surface germs.
  6. Keep food consumption to a minimum or encourage employees to eat alone and with their own cutlery.

Employee Best Practises:

  1. Wear a mask at all times, apart from when eating.
  2. Check your temperature regularly before entering your place of work.
  3. Wash your hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Practise ‘cough etiquette’ by coughing and sneezing into your elbow or a tissue and dispose of it immediately.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  6. Be aware of your surroundings and keep a 1.5m distance from people around you.


Without a doubt, the global pandemic has blindsided the world. However, that doesn’t mean a ‘wait and see’ approach is the best way to survive. For example, hoping for things to go ‘back to the way they were’ is not only a risky move but is also a waste of an incredible opportunity to learn and grow.

With that in mind, we believe creating a new way of work, a new way of connecting with people and a new approach to business is the way forward. We’re acting now and adjusting as we go.

Above all, this is our chance to use our present situation to create a new future that’s fundamentally better than the past. Let’s take it together! DM


Find out more about Workshop17 and flexible coworking options in South Africa on their website. www.workshop17.co.za


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