Touchless, hands-free, no touch, automatic, voice activated; it really doesn’t matter what you call it, this technology is the new standard thanks to the COVID-19 crisis. These are certainly interesting times. As the coronavirus continues to shape the world, the impact is being felt at all levels of society and across all industries including commercial interior design.
We all want the economy to bounce back, and quickly, but with each passing day of quarantine it’s becoming clear that an ‘all clear’ may not come for a while. However, health officials, business leaders, and now politicians seem to be coalescing around the idea of a gradual return to normalcy. In fact, in remarks Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the ‘worst is over if we continue to be smart’ and that reopening the economy may feel more like slowly opening a valve and letting the data drive each next best decision in New York and beyond.
The primary concern is for public health, and for comprehensive, real-time information about precautions to take. Many of us have already adopted new procedures into our daily lives like wearing gloves, masks, and practicing social distancing has become the new normal (for now).
However, something that has been largely overlooked is when society starts reopening, what will that look like? It is hard enough to live in the present at the moment, but it is vitally important to prepare for the future. Specifically, with the majority of the workforce working from home, what will returning to work actually look like, and what precautions can you implement today to make employees feel safe when they get back into the office?
“A building or office is only as healthy and well as the employees in it feel,” said Infinity Group Design Strategist Savannah Dominguez. “There are several elements that can be added right now, to help the workforce safely return to work, and feel confident about their environment when they do.”
Hands-Free and No Touch Fixtures and Appliances
“We are looking at everything [including] how we utilize more touch-less technologies in our day to day interactions” stated Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo.
If you’re going to make changes right now – this is where you want to focus.
According to a hand washing survey conducted by Bradley Corp.
• 65% of people use a paper towel to eliminate hand contact with doors and faucets and
• 44% of people operate toilet flushers with their foot.
These numbers should shoot up dramatically post COVID-19. Think about your space and ask yourself, do you have touchless:
• Bathroom doors
• Lighting Fixtures
• Toilet paper dispensers
• Self-flushing toilets
• Soap dispensers
• Paper towel dispensers
There are other outside the box updates that can be made as well. According to the CDC, people should wash their hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. If you currently utilize touchless options, they can be configured to leave water running for the proper duration to encourage safe procedures.
People have largely adopted to the 6 foot rule at places like the grocery store or in conversing with family or friends, but how do you implement this in the workspace, where most desks are tightly packed into a small space?
Leading Commercial Real Estate firm, Cushman & Wakefield has recently introduced The 6 Feet Office. This new initiative encourages collaboration while emphasizing separation in order to keep workers safe not only now, but if there is something unexpected in the future.
Optimizing workflows and slightly changing how employees interact, can go a long way to stop the spread of viruses.
Safe Construction Materials
When designing workspaces, selection of materials is vitally important. In the past, materials may have been selected strictly based on aesthetics. However, now the safety of materials is even more crucial.
More porous materials might harbor bacteria. Some paints are more durable and easier to clean than others. Hardwood or linoleum is easier to care for than carpet or even tile where bacteria can get caught in the grout.
Now is the perfect time to do an assessment of your space to see if there are any potential dangers you can update now before employees return, so that they feel comfortable when they do.
Designing a Safer Office
Let’s be honest, none of us were wholly prepared for COVID-19, and we are all still struggling to adapt to changing conditions. Now is the perfect time to have a virtual consultation with an interior design organization to strategize office upgrades. Because construction is deemed essential, projects are still happening all over the country, and can be completed before employees return to work.
Infinity Group can redesign or upgrade your building or workspace to meet and exceed new OSHA recommendations for a COVID-19 conscious office. We can:
• Install no-touch and hand-free fixtures and appliances.
• Review workstations and design a space that limits interaction but maximizes collaboration.
• Combine design best practices with organizational best practices to ensure a safe workplace now and in the future.
For a virtual workspace consultation, contact Infinity Group today at 860.726.9384 or firstname.lastname@example.org