Learning to live and work with coronavirus will mean implementing measures such as reducing the density of staff in open-plan spaces, restricting communal areas, visual zoning, wayfinding, installing dividing screens and splitting work shifts. Whether businesses are looking to create entirely new workspaces or turning their attention to reconfiguring existing ones, this shouldn’t mean that design is comprised. It’s still possible to create beautiful and inspiring workplaces while incorporating social distancing.
A new way forward
At Interface, we recognise the vital, functional benefits that our modular flooring products can play in wayfinding in commercial spaces, and we are seeing customers successfully and seamlessly adjusting their flooring in accordance with new safety guidelines.
Modular flooring is designed to be taken out and installed via individual tiles, so designers are able to incorporate visually engaging and well-matched flooring plans to support safety across their projects. With a tile-by-tile approach and by using colour and texture, modular flooring acts as an almost subliminal communication tool to influence how occupants move and behave. With modular shapes and dimensions, it is possible to create clear and graphic zoning areas in any building. The variety in the pattern and rhythm of tiles helps occupants understand where to walk and, importantly, where not to, keeping them connected from a safe distance. In open areas, the floor can even be designed to fit around furniture to create designated places of space.
Investing in the future
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded all of us that people are a company’s most important asset and while in the short-term companies will have to adapt to the pandemic, longer-term the focus will be on future-proofing offices to minimise a repeat disruption to the business and most importantly, its people. Our Concept Design team is focused on listening to these needs and understanding how we can create innovative, inspiring and people-led workplaces as we adapt to these new measures.
We want to help companies to sensitively and safely integrate teams back into these environments by creating nurturing and reassuring spaces for employees. Offices will need to place a renewed focus on biophilic design, sustainability and design considerations that impact wellbeing, such as better acoustics. For this reason, when designing our products, we’ve taken a long-term approach to development, creating carbon-neutral tiles which promote safer and calmer environments, while also making beautifully designed workspaces.
Reaffirming company culture
While we may see a shift in terms of the way offices are used in the future, they still have an integral role to play in reaffirming company culture. The reality is that the physical office is still needed as the workplace helps to bring people and ideas together, which is key to a positive and productive culture. It’s extremely difficult to replicate this emotional and creative hub virtually.
As employees are phased back into the office gradually, and at limited capacity, workplaces may increasingly become spaces for interaction, community and collaboration – used for memorable teambuilding events and learning activities.
Reconfiguring our offices and ways of working shouldn’t mean that we need to lose our corporate culture. This is why our ‘Designing for Distance’ solutions offer a wide range of colours, textures and tones to ensure that companies still have the freedom to express their brand identity. From muted, softer tones, to allow for versatility and tranquillity to brighter, bolder colours which naturally warn us away from certain areas, our solutions prove you can still create beautiful, bespoke designs for your customers while implementing social distance measures. This means floorplans continue to be aesthetically pleasing for occupants as well as uniquely functional. Interface’s accompanying guide provides inspiration for how to create visually engaging boundaries and zones throughout various types of commercial settings.