How the day-to-day will change following COVID-19
Across Europe, businesses are slowly looking to ease the lockdowns imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic. Although each country is adapting at its own pace, one thing that is certain – life will be quite different from now on.
In Agilité Solutions’ hometown of Paris, life is very different to how it was at the turn of 2020. Social distancing, face masks and shuttered shops signal a time of great change for our city. But, in the months to come, what changes can we expect to see as we venture outside once more? Development director, Kirsty Shearer explores further…
Naturally, organisations of all shapes and sizes would like to be ‘open for business’ as soon as it is safe enough to do so. However, the question is whether people will look to leave the security of their homes in order to shop and socialise – or even work – in the coming months.
When we do venture out, the most obvious change will be around social distancing. It’s a given that people will be wary of passing others in corridors or shop aisles, following another person into a WC or sitting down at a recently vacated table in a coffee shop.
So whether it’s overhauling an existing linear office layout, or re-evaluating a close-quarters café culture, the design of places where people meet will have to be revisited. And, alongside the reactive changes which will need to be made before organisations reopen their doors, there will inevitably be a longer-term shift in the design of communal areas.
Take one of Agilité Solutions’ existing projects, for example – a planned breakout space needed to be reconsidered in order to reduce the number of surfaces which have the potential for contamination. We didn’t have to make revolutionary adaptations – simple solutions such as automatic on/off sensors for taps, new seating layouts and alternative materials, all play a vital role in making places safe. But the key to all of this is the careful evaluation of workplace details that many people would never have previously considered.
The shifting hospitality and leisure landscape
The hospitality sector was one of the first to close, and in many countries, it will be among the last to reopen. While businesses across the globe have adapted their offerings to include delivery and take-out options, the prospect of having to dramatically reduce the number of patrons when reopening will prove a challenge for many. Tables must be a safe distance apart and can only seat the number of people from different households which are allowed to meet at any one time.
Elsewhere, gyms and health centres have long encouraged users to sanitise equipment after use, but layouts must be revisited to try and separate clients as much as possible. During this time, a clear sense of empathy, adaptability and a willingness to do what it takes to make clients feel safe, will pay dividends in the long run.
Across the board, public spaces will see ‘keep your distance’ signage likely join the ‘no smoking’ infographics we’re so used to seeing in communal areas, and will become a staple inside restaurants, waiting rooms and bathroom facilities.
The changing world of construction
As we have seen with the recent reopening of the construction industry, it is vital to work hand-in-hand with clients, suppliers and staff to ensure a joined-up approach to keeping colleagues safe.
Given the nature of building work, it is often the case that two or more employees may need to be in close proximity during the fit-out process, therefore sourcing and distributing the correct PPE before workers even enter the site, is key.
Internal footfall and the layouts of corridors, staircases and walkways need to be completely reconsidered before teams return to site. And if a pathway isn’t wide enough for two people to pass safely, routes must be established to ensure individuals travel in one direction.
An alternative outlook for office workers
While many are still working from home where it is suitable to do so, when offices do reopen, life there will change significantly. Everything from small layout alterations to full redesign and fit-out projects will be considered.
Aside from their homes, the office should be the next-best place in which people can feel safe. But, for work to resume, changes must be made to instil a sense of confidence with those venturing outside. Those with open plan offices have an advantage in that it’s likely there will be more space to play with – meaning social distancing and hotdesking can be quickly established in the short-term – but proper procedures will need to be implemented in order for it to work.
The 2-metre gap between workstations may cause additional problems for organisations with linear layouts – featuring lots of staff and little ‘extra’ space. Alternate working hours, conversion of meeting rooms and a rota system could therefore all be brought into play as bosses look to keep their workers safe.
To speak to us about how you can make the most of your interior space – and keep colleagues and clients safe when you do reopen – contact us for more information.