Preparing for the “New Normal” in Commercial Design
Many people would agree that the COVID19 pandemic has changed things permanently, or at least for the foreseeable future. The way that we interact, socialize and work has been transformed, and by all appearances, it seems that we will never go back to the way things were.
Business owners are going to be keen to go back to work and reopen but also nervous about how to keep their employees and customers safe. Interior design is going to be a key component in how those pieces come together. Let’s take a look at what the right design strategy looks like in a post-COVID environment.
Clean (and Easy to Clean) Commercial Designs
Cleanliness, something that was once taken for granted, is a priority in a way that it has never been before. As hotels begin to be booked again and commercial spaces re-open, owners will want to build confidence in their customers and guests that the space is clean.
We have talked before about how our clean hotel designs are great for your staff and allow them to keep rooms spic and span easily and efficiently. As hotels roll-out more stringent cleaning standards, having a clean hotel design will be more and more crucial to being able to meet those standards.
Retail businesses and other commercial establishments will want to look at the number of touchpoints and how accessible they are to clean.
We will also need to look more carefully at materials. As well as meeting brand and Building Code standards, there will also be consideration to how the materials can be cleaned and disinfected.
Come Together, but Stay Apart
How can we come together and stay apart? This is the question that has been asked throughout the pandemic and as an industry, design will continue to be part of the answer.
In office scenarios, cubicles may become a little more spacious and partitions may become a bit higher. Retail businesses will have to reconsider how many touchpoints they have, how they want customers to move about and how to protect their frontline staff.
In hotels, lobbies had become communal, multi-functioning spaces in the recent past. Guests were using them to socialize, to meet and to work. We will see a change in how that space is used, but we may not need to pedal back too far.
Design elements can be put in place so that social distancing behaviours can be subtly reinforced. Whether its carpet spans 2 metres to create that distance or pointing foot traffic in one direction, commercial design can bolster other policies put in place to maintain distance. Furniture choices will also support those policies (i.e. using lounge chairs instead of a sofa loveseat to keep apart). Visual cues that let us know to space 2 metres apart while waiting in line can become an aesthetically pleasing part of the design.
Having your business thrive in the upcoming months is going to be difficult. People want to be reassured that they can visit your business again and be safe doing so. The companies that are innovative, that keep up with this change, and that design their space to reassure their customers will be a step ahead.
The right design will help you get from dealing with the new normal to having it simply feel normal.
At Lesley Wong Interiors, we are up to date on how our industry is meeting the challenges of the post-pandemic workplace. Contact us if you want to chat about how to change your space to keep up with this ever-changing environment. We would love to talk.