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Implement Physical Distancing

When implementing physical distancing strategies in your workspace, please keep in mind the following best practices for employee seating and circulation within the office areas.

In areas where departments share space, leaders will need to work together on a coordinated approach to physical distancing. 

Workstation locations

  • Occupied workstations should be two metres (2m — approximately 6 1/2 feet) away from other staff in all directions. 
  • Where possible, staff seating arrangements should have workstations that position staff so they are facing away from each other. 
  • Workstations put into use should be away from high-traffic areas (internal corridors, entryways, lunchrooms, washrooms) where people would be passing within less than 2 metres of a seated worker.
  • Staff should have designated workstations. Limit or omit completely any shared desks or workstations (touch-down/hoteling stations) to limit cross-contamination. 
  • Remove seating or add signage to desks that are to remain unoccupied to clearly identify which workstations are available for staff use.
  • Track who sits where to be able to assist with responding if there are cases of illness in the office.

Common spaces

  • Where possible, create an approach to shared areas (lunchrooms, print areas, washrooms) that limits the occasions of close contact such as one-way systems, staggered scheduling for use and maximum-capacity restrictions.
  • As all meetings should be conducted on digital platforms, meeting rooms should remain locked unless used only for additional workspace on a limited basis. Maximum occupancy rates that support physical distancing should be posted at doorways. 
  • Consider designating kitchen space as limited use for warming food, making coffee etc., and not to be used as eat-in space. Post signage identifying the maximum capacity of this space based on area and reminders of physical distancing requirements. 

Corridors and paths of travel

  • Where corridors do not permit passage of 2 metres or greater, where possible, establish a one-way system that will limit employees having to cross paths. Floors can be marked using masking tape and signage.
  • Give consideration to pinch-points in the office layout where there is no ability to circulate within the physical distancing guidelines and if possible, close off access to these spaces or use signage to indicate maximum-capacity restrictions and physical distancing reminders.

Private offices

  • Post signage identifying the maximum capacity of private offices to limit the number of people who may enter the space.

COVID-19 Space Planning Tool for Administrative Spaces

Facilities Management and Development (“Facilities”) has created a simple tool and guidelines to help managers plan their departments’ work areas. Through these materials, departments are able to initiate space planning in response to COVID-19 on their own, but can also call FMD for support if needed. To do so, contact the Facilities Help Desk at or 416-979-5091.

What does the tool include

 It consists of a digital floor plan, a two-metre marker and directional arrows that can be inserted onto the floor plan to assess dimensions and two-metre measurements. This will help managers:

  • Develop seating arrangements that ensure adequate distance between workers.
  • Designate directions and paths of travel.
  • Identify the maximum occupancy of shared spaces like lunchrooms and meeting rooms.

How it works

Contact the Facilities Help Desk at for a copy of your department’s floor plan. The floor plan will include two-metre marker shapes drawn to scale and arrow tools that you can apply to your floor plan. Use the document’s copy-paste functions to place the shapes from the legend onto the floor plan as needed. 

  • Use the two-metre marker to identify workstations that can be occupied while maintaining physical distancing requirements. 
  • Apply the arrows to the floor plan to develop a circulation plan that avoids two-way travel in narrow corridors.

Once you have created a working floor plan, use signage to help communicate this plan to your staff.

Space Planning Toolkit in practice

The example below shows the application of the physical distancing space tool. Red dots in this example note seating assignments that maintain two-metre distancing.

An example space plan of a floor in VIC.

Engineering controls 

In spaces where physical distancing cannot be maintained through the strategies outlined above, and leaders determine additional engineering controls such as the installation of plexiglass is required, please contact the Facilities Help Desk by email at or call 416-970-5091. The Facilities team will work with departments on an assessment and installation strategy and will prioritize public-facing spaces first.