Reopening after lockdown: how do spaces need to change for employees and visitors?

By 6th April 2021Uncategorised
office full of people working at computer

From the 12th of April in the UK, a wider selection of businesses will be welcoming back employees and visitors, including

  • Non-essential retail
  • Public buildings
  • Offices

Reopening after COVID-19 is an exciting topic – colleagues once again collaborating in the same space, customers able to browse products in-store and huge amounts of vital social (distanced) contact that has been sorely missed over the last year.

But rather than getting swept up in the celebration, now more than ever, businesses need to make sure they’ve got the best space possible for their employees and visitors (e.g. retail customers, business clients, or members of the public).

So what do these spaces need to think about as they reopen?

Public Sector

Spaces in the public sector need to think carefully about how the space will be perceived. Any space that is created with public spend will need to ensure they are aligned with the wider government’s messaging and are doing everything possible to keep employees and members of the public safe and healthy.

Any modifications to facilities, navigation, flow and layout whilst accommodating safer COVID-19 practices, will have to ensure accessibility and easy utilisation for all. In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, Access Consultants provide professional advice on how to develop inclusive environments. They will look to undertake access assessments on existing and proposed buildings identifying problems and offering practical, prioritised solutions for incorporation into the design or ongoing development and maintenance plans.

Spaces built with public spend also face a high amount of scrutiny in the way the funds are used. These spaces should be designed with sustainable building materials, sustainable practices and sustainable equipment that will provide the best value for money.

Public sector workspaces should be designed with a high focus placed on increasing the life cycle of the space – i.e. spending once, and spending well. ‘Building Back Better’ means investing in the right infrastructure and equipment to reduce replacement costs and material waste.

Retail

Non-essential retailers have a difficult task ahead: encouraging in-store visits after customers have become accustomed to shopping online.

The key to continuing to bring in foot traffic (once excitement of stores reopening has faded) is in finding the balance between replicating the best parts of the online experience and having an in-store experience that can’t be achieved online. People are drawn into these physical spaces for human interaction, social content and to absorb brand activations.

Some of the online benefits retailers should consider replicating are:

  • Cashierless or mobile checkouts
  • On-screen live stock information
  • Product comparisons & recommendations

Combine these with elements that create a great in-store experience and customers are more likely to return.

Examples of in-store only experiences are:

  • Product demos and try-before-you-buys
  • Additional services of value (e.g. in-store hairdressers, children’s play areas or personal stylists)
  • Shared experience and brand community building initiatives
  • Great customer service – appropriate to customer, brand & product
  • Social media photo opportunities (e.g. Instagrammable backgrounds)

Office & Commercial

One of the biggest challenges that offices and commercial workplaces will face as they reopen is that 72% of workers want to continue to work from home or at least have the option of flexible working.

Office owners will need to find a cost-efficient way of keeping these units running as more businesses choose to reduce their investments in office space, while office occupiers will need to find ways to attract workers into the space they’re paying for and facilitate flexible working.

Sustainable designs could be a way forward for office owners looking to reduce running costs. Installing split system air conditioning is a cost-saving and eco-friendly way to maintain the office temperature while upcycling furniture as part of a fit-out or remodel is sustainable and gives each space a distinct style.

Taking biophilic design elements into these buildings can improve the health of the employees who are in the space for hours at a time e.g.

  • incorporating plants to improve air quality
  • ensuring there is plenty of natural light available to reduce stress and fatigue
  • using water vapours from plants to reduce respiratory irritation

Business owners should look to promote offices as a ‘space to collaborate’ by designing workspaces that encourage human connections or meeting spaces that are calm with no household distractions.

Businesses will also need to consider how they can incorporate flexible working into their spaces e.g. by providing equipment that can be easily transported or making sure the spacial choreography won’t lead to distractions when people are working to different schedules.

At Resolution Interiors, we’re committed to creating spaces that work. The end of the lockdown is in sight, let’s make sure you have the best space possible. Want to discuss how you can improve your space? Get in touch with our team.