Having a healthy working environment is important for employee morale, good health, well-being and productivity. If you can’t or don’t want to even get into the building to start with, the state of the working environment becomes irrelevant.
New Building, New Support Opportunities
Once we took over a new building, one of the first things we worked out was that we needed to assess whether everyone could gain access comfortably and efficiently. I didn’t want to open the company without the appropriate support for the building.
It was of vital importance to me to ensure that our clients and staff were adequately supported, which meant instead of taking on a building and opening after some basic work, we did something else. I wanted to make sure that the building and rooms were not only suitable for our building, but were safe too.
Company Support for Everything
Our access audit was undertaken in several steps – our preliminary discussions revealed that we needed to rebuild some areas of the building – adding some facilities such as more accessible toilets. We also had to decide what to do about our second floor – the ground floor had a basic ramp (which we’d already decided to resurface because it was slippery. This was a decision backed by the wonderful expert that visited us to do our final audit), but the top floor was difficult to access, and in reality, a lift would be too difficult to install. But, we did have a wide, wonderful staircase, which could have a stair lift installed, if we decided to use the top floor. For now however, we’ve decided that the bottom floor is perfectly contained, so we’re not using the second floor.
Our audit revealed some other areas that we needed to work on, to ensure that our building is designed with support in mind – we’ve added several layers of support, including signs that have braille included, at standard height. This was one of the things I really worried about actually.
We decided, from the outset, that the most important thing to do was ensure that the access was as broad as possible. We consulted with companies to ensure that the lighting was just right, that our bathrooms and other communal areas were accessible, no matter what the need, and that our building was, most of all, designed to work for those visiting us. The convenience factor rated quite highly, but it was most important to me and my team – to ensure that the best that we could offer is always available. It was critical in fact, to ensure that there is the best for our clients – using the Equality Act as a foundation, we worked with the group that we hired to create access audits that was perfect of for needs.
If we couldn’t create our access audits this way, we decided that we would hire a team to create and design our floor plan instead – the access statement versus an access audit concept worked quite well when we were designing our first building, so we used the same team. They decided that we could modify our new building, and that was one of the best things we could do – we’ve now got a gorgeous space, designed exactly for what we need and want, that is entirely compliant to standards. The access audit that we undertook has created a wonderful space for our business that is both supportive and elegant – nothing has gotten in our way, and we’ve made the modifications already – it was very easy to undertake the changes suggested and mandated by the Act itself.
About the Author: Access audits are critical to buildings that businesses own – it means that you can provide support and access to your clients at all times.