Covid-19 design inspiration from around the world

Greenhouses for a restaurant in Amsterdam - design inspiration Covid-19

 

Covid-19 Design Inspiration includes humour and repurposing

 

As the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the world, we find ourselves in uncharted design territory. Designers need to be more creative than ever before with their commercial interior design and quickly create real-time changes. Offices and workplaces around the world are making changes to embrace the new social distancing measures and keep team members and the public safe. As we start going back to work, there are so many new obstacles to overcome, yet we are not alone. Coronavirus has affected nearly every country in the world, so we can learn from other countries how businesses have responded to the epidemic. When it come to Covid-19 design inspiration, thinking outside the box and adding humour could be key features in the approaches taken.

Greenhouse restaurants in Amsterdam

It may seem surreal to see pop up trailers, screens and social distancing tiles and mats, but all of these are an essential step in the fight against coronavirus. Creative businesses have been quick to repurpose spaces such as sheds and greenhouses to create socially distanced bubbles. In Amsterdam, a restaurant has opened with customers sitting in separate, distanced greenhouses. Team members are also wearing face shields, PPE and using long platters, so they don’t come in to contact with customers.  A London restaurant that would normally have glass igloos outside only at Christmas time now has them for the summer – so families can stay in their social bubble.

Pool noodle hats in Germany

You may also have seen the cafe in Schwerin, Germany which recently featured on the news. As they reopened after lockdown, customers were asked to wear pool noodle hats to remind them to keep apart from others! This may be a bit much for your office, but fun reminders to maintain a social distance are an essential new design consideration. In other public settings cartoon characters and giant bears are filling seats that can’t be occupied if social distancing rules are to apply. There is likely to be a greater emergence of using humour rather than solemn messaging to keep people safe.

Mood-boosting graphics in the USA

Morale boosting signage has been seen around the world, from rainbows in windows, to thank you notes for carers. Tamara Shopsin, an American illustrator and designer, has been spreading positive messages with her free, printable PDF posters. Her posters include bold thank-you notes to postal workers and bright, eye-catching signs which encourage social distancing.

Chasing rainbows in the UK

The Chase the Rainbow campaign has been a strong unifying symbol as we have stayed in our houses to limit the spread of Covid 19 and supported our incredible health professionals. In Liverpool, Hull and Dudley road markers have written thank-you messages outside hospitals to encourage and thank staff permanently. A rainbow in a design scheme is a good subtle reminder of the importance of social distancing and hygiene requirements to ensure the NHS isn’t overloaded.

Crossing the ‘T’s and dotting the ‘I’s in the new normal

Create SD range in an office setting to show Social Distancing

Hints for commercial designers in the new normal

 

Lockdown restrictions are continuing to ease around the UK and more and more businesses are opening their doors once again. After months of remote and digital work, many of our clients will be able to enter the premises they are re-designing and begin practical work. We thought it might be useful to provide a bit of a checklist for operating ‘in the new normal’.

1. Confirm all appointments

Many businesses are currently only able to operate by limiting and controlling the number of employees/suppliers on their premises. While it is unlikely that you would simply turn up, there could be an added dimension of ‘optimum time of sites’. It could be worth confirming appointments and getting an idea of what to expect.

2. Establish any virus mitigation systems requirements before beginning any work

Talk about incorporating virus mitigation systems into a design from the start. For example, you could ask clients whether they want social distancing screens, a one-way system or floor markings included in your design work. See Government guidelines for offices.

Handwashing stations may not be the most stylish items, but they are necessary if we want to stop the spread of coronavirus. If they are positioned so they’re accessible for all, such as next to entrance and exit points, staff are more likely to take advantage of them. For more ideas view our blog on creating the hygienic office.

3. Future-proof your work

Although lockdown restrictions are beginning to ease, the virus is still a threat. Ensure you future-proof your work by creating design concepts and making decisions that are suitable in a post-pandemic world, as well as right now. Consider if communal areas will still be a requirement, go beyond desk spacing and surface types to what future usage could look like for a client.

Room dividers for example can help with social distancing, especially if your client works in a small office, but it will be important to strive a balance between hygiene isolation and the communication benefits of being part of an office team.

Commercial flooring from Duraflor is guaranteed from 10 years to 20 years. Thinking about how to use it both short-term and long-term will be important. Flooring presents a great way-finding and zoning opportunity. Considering how colour and different floor covering can be used to create barriers and transition activity is an important aspect of future proofing. Plus investing in Social Distancing Tiles that can be replaced at some point in the future is a good call. For a hygienic vinyl option Social Distancing Mats provide an ideal temporary solution that protects the floor long-term as well.

 

How interior design helps safer working

Showing how office design helps safer working - office design for social distancing

 

We consider how interior design helps safer working

 

Our recent customer survey confirmed the importance of ‘Covid-19 safer working environments’ being part of any interior designers remit going forward. We have therefore listed a few suggestions based on current thinking of how interior design helps safer working practices.

1. Opt for a minimalist look

Once a workplace re-opens, it will be essential in order to keep employees safe and comfortable, that a high hygiene standard is maintained at all times. For this reason, decorative items and personal belongings may need to be kept to a minimum. The fewer items and surfaces there are in an office, the easier and quicker it will be to keep clean.

In fact ease of cleaning could well become a selling point that dictates shape and form of office furniture going forward.

And what about the size of desks? According to Kaicker, who heads analytics and insights at Zaha Hadid Architects: “Office desks have shrunk over the years, from 1.8m to 1.6m to now 1.4m and less, but I think we’ll see a reversal of that, as people won’t want to sit so close together.” Kaicker even imagines legislation might be introduced to mandate a minimum area per person in offices, as well as a reduction in maximum occupancy for lifts and larger lobbies to minimise overcrowding.

More interesting insights to how previous pandemics have changed our cities and workplace design can be seen in this fascinating article we found.

2. Make space a priority

Already touched on above – to ensure employees feel safe and relaxed in a workplace, there will be a need to try to make an office look as spacious as possible. Even placing rarely used seating and tables into storage will help. An employer may also wish to consider multifunctional furniture, e.g. a bench that turns into a table, so the furniture in the office can be kept to a minimum but the office does not lose any of its functionality.

3. Introduce more wash facilities

In the short term, it is likely as part of their Covid-19 Risk Assessment Plan employers will place hand sanitiser, anti-bacterial spray and cleaning products around the office and create clean sanitation stations. In the longer term, they may wish to consider having more sinks installed around the office to ensure employees do not have far to travel to wash their hands.

4. Flooring considerations

Creating a one-way system around the office using arrows or adding 2m distancing signs to the floor design is one measure. This is addressed with our CREATE SD range or on hard flooring services we recommend our Social Distancing Floor Mats.

Our survey highlighted that many of customers believe that there will be an increase in the demand for antibacterial safety flooring and LVT in the offices of the future. Where carpet tiles continue to be used it is also likely that considerations will be given to how they in themselves can be used as way finders throughout a building and how ideal they are for zoning and 2m spacing in themselves – with clever use of colour and design.

 

If we can help in any way with your new design challenges, we are here to be of service – just call 01592 630030.

Creating a remote office

remote office, home office - woman in her home office environment

Creating a remote office for the long-term

The government-imposed lockdown is preventing many of us from heading to work right now but could also be shaping the way we work in the future. Many individuals and companies could be considering making what was once seen as temporary, now a more permanent working arrangement.

1.54 million of us worked from home prior to the lockdown and there was always an increasing percentage of people who spent some of their working week no longer office based. With some of the statistics now being reported that is likely to become an even greater percentage post lockdown. The report we found stated that Londoners are saving an average of £57.78 per week by working from home and productivity is increasing, so employees and employers could agree it is advantageous all round.

For those looking to make the move to home working more permanent, it’s  important to design a home working space that enables creativity flow and productivity. The design learnings we have from the office commercial environment should now be transferred to a more permanent home office:

Choose colours carefully

A great deal of research has been done on the psychological effects of different colours, specifically with regards to productivity. The colour that you choose to decorate a home working space with also depends on the type of work being done and whether there is a requirement to think creatively or methodically. Yellow, for example, is known to make us feel happier, while red makes us feel energised. The general consensus from most colour experts is if you’re designing a working space, cool colours, such as greens and blues, are the best choices to opt for. These colours are known to make us feel calm and balanced so that we are able to focus. When designing a productive home office space, choose colours that complement each other and stimulate the psychological response needed to be more productive.

Incorporate nature

In the current climate, the majority of us have been spending most of our time indoors. Venturing outside in the sunlight, however, is known to directly impact our sense of wellness. Sunlight is known to release a chemical called serotonin in our bodies, which not only helps us to wake up in the morning but can also help to prevent inefficiency, work dissatisfaction and depression. To bring more sunlight into an office space, see if there is an area at home that has plenty of windows and a good view, or consider options such as daylight lighting. Another popular feature is adding elements of greenery and plants into the design. You might find some additional inspiration in our blog on bringing nature into the office.

Minimise distractions

An untidy workspace can make a working mind feel cluttered because distractions have the ability to affect all of the senses. Office and desk solutions that effectively hide any cords and wires, as well as wireless technology, will ensure that the area has plenty of useful working space. A cluttered working environment can also stifle creativity by distracting the mind from focusing on a single task, so consider the direction of the desk, streamlined storage options, and other options such as soundproofing in the form of insulating materials. Every effort should be made to ensure a remote office is just as functional as a commercial office environment.

We can assist our clients with their remote office requirements as well as commercial office project needs, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

The future of office design in a post-Covid-19 UK

Hand and wipe - cleaning desk

Post Covid-19 Office Design Ideas

 
COVID-19 will undoubtedly have a long-term impact. Even if we manage to successfully irradicate the virus around the globe, a post-COVID-19 world will still be defined by the pandemic and structural and practical changes will need to be made. Below, we explore the possible future for office design in a post-COVID-19 world. We would be interested to know what you think.

1. Function first

For both modern and traditional offices, function will be of primary importance. Furniture may include minimal crevices, to ensure it can be easily cleaned. Other everyday items like break areas and cabinets may also need to be re-designed to ensure they meet the new standards of cleanliness workers now expect to see. For example, tables and desks may need to have non-porous surfaces to ensure they do not collect dust or bacteria.

2. Materials matter

In a post-COVID-19 world, offices will need to be re-designed with materials that are easier to keep clean and sanitised. For example, laminate surfaces and vinyl flooring may be considered easier to keep clean than other commercial flooring options. Smooth, flat surfaces could become the norm in offices, and workplaces may be more vigilant about creating regular cleaning routines.

3. Independent spaces

Office managers may no longer want their offices to be designed for hot-desking. They will perhaps favour independent work stations that employees can keep clean and sanitised. Duraflor has a range of sanitisation products designed to meet an office sanitisation regime. The majority of collaborative work may now be completed through technology, e.g. conference calls, so office designers may need to consider how they might accommodate an increase in technology in an office. Many employees will have also grown accustomed to working from home and may opt to work from home more often.

4. Sanitation stations

While many traditional office designs currently limit sink areas to bathrooms and kitchens, office designs in a post-COVID-19 world may include multiple sinks in the main office space. This will allow employees to stay on top of their hygiene and not have to frequently leave the main office area to wash their hands.

Getting your views 

We have been asking our customers their views, if you would like to take part in our survey on how offices might change post cover-19, do so here – there is a small thank you involved.

Health and wellbeing hygiene in office design

Axis flooring in kitchen area where there needs to be a focus on hygiene

Health and wellbeing hygiene in office design is likely to take a new direction

 
In a recent survey, 87% of workers said they would appreciate it if their employer offered healthier workplace benefits. For example, more ergonomic seating and healthier lunch options. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, designers and fit-out project managers are expecting to see an increase in demand to include hygienic features in office designs. Below we list some of the ways interior designers may be able to include health and hygiene inspired ideas in their office design projects.

1. More hygiene stations

In a standard office, you will probably find sinks in the bathroom and in the kitchen area. If an office is trying to improve its health and hygiene, however, business owners may want various sinks included around the office to increase the cleanliness of the office.

2. Independent workspaces

In the past decade, hot-desking and collaborative workspaces have risen in popularity. In light of COVID-19, however, we are expecting to see a rise in independent workspaces over collaborative areas. Employees will feel more safe and comfortable working in their own area, and independent stations will be easier to clean and maintain.

3. Sanitary surfaces

To improve the hygiene of an office, interior designers should look to use surfaces that can be easily cleaned and sanitised.  Automatic doors will also be more popular, as employees will look for an alternative to frequently used and touched door handles. We offer solutions for sanitising flooring (soft and hard flooring) as well as office furniture and fittings. A cleaning regime during installation as well a set routine will need to apply. We can advise based on number employees what that should look like.  It is also possible demand will increase for anti-bacterial flooring of which we have several ranges, including our Duragrip range.

4. Personal touches

Due to COVID-19, many offices are asking their employees to work from home. Once employees are invited back to an office, they will miss certain home comforts that have grown accustomed to whilst working remotely. For this reason, you may wish to ask employees what design touches they would like to see in their new office.

5. The importance of light and technology.

There is a great article in This Week in Facilities Management that addresses many of the thoughts around the changes that will be required when employees start to return to the office. One belief they have is that spaces that introduce natural light, as well as outdoor areas, are likely to be viewed by employers as an important investment into workers’ wellbeing after COVID-19. Other options include specialised lighting that mimics natural light, while digital capabilities such as smart windows and sensor technology can help manage lighting and ventilation.

We understand this is a difficult time for many designers and would like to offer as much support as possible. If you have a question about commercial flooring or a sanitising regime with our Rhinosan range, we are glad to help our clients incorporate wellbeing hygiene into office design at every opportunity.

Communicating with teams and clients during lock-down

Man working remotely two computer screens

Remote working and communication

 
Struggling with remote working communication during lockdown? We have looked at some of the key advice out there.

Enforced remote working has placed many limitations on many of our clients. They are unable to spend as much time as usual in the locations they are re-designing and are unable to work with their team in a physical creative space. Even for those who are used to working independently, there are some very different circumstances at play right now. So, whether you are trying to manage a team or are being managed remotely these tips are worth considering:

1. Make your expectations clear

If you manage a design team who are working remotely during the lockdown, it is important that you make your expectations known. A heavy handed approach isn’t being suggested here, just the good practice of ‘goal setting’ and being available to discuss how those goals are being met (in a potentially more distracting environment). The CIPD in their advice state that you should be clear about mutual expectations and trust your team to get on with it without micromanaging. They suggest focussing on results rather than activity.

2. Don’t overload your clients with information

Your clients will be going through their own challenges during the lockdown and it is important you are on-hand to answer any queries or questions they may have, and your willingness won’t go unnoticed. You should reassure your clients you are taking the appropriate steps to ensure you are operating safely and try to provide them with a new timeline. The important thing here is getting the balance right between overloading clients with information and being a welcome distraction and useful source of information.

3. Schedule regular check-ins

Often when working remotely for the first time, employees can struggle to adapt to the new environment and can find themselves feeling very isolated. If you manage a team of people, try to regularly check in on them by organising daily or weekly video calls and scheduling regular company conference calls. The advice is also to make time for social conversations. This increases rapport and eases communication between people who may not meet often. It also reduces feelings of isolation.

4. Reach out to potential new clients and existing suppliers

Whilst you may be focused on your clients and employees, it is important you also maintain healthy communications with existing suppliers and reach out to any new companies that you would like to work with in the future. Many companies are saying that they are now getting hold of senior decision makers they previously struggled to get hold of.  Suppliers are likely to be keen to share training and insights with you, Duraflor for example, is offering product trend training, this could be the ideal time to learn more about specific products and trends, which you may not have had the time to do in the past.

 

We are busy looking at the many ways we can help our customer base with extra services. Not only through CPDs but also how our Group Companies can help with an array of flooring preparation and sanitisation products.

Sustainable Office Design

Man out file on sustainable office policy

How to create a sustainable office

In a week that saw National Earth Day and as we all focus on the impact that human action has had on the world, we look at the ways individuals and companies can ensure they have created a sustainable office -it isn’t just about choosing fixtures, fittings and flooring with sustainable credentials.

1. Set clear, precise goals

Designing and building a sustainable office is one thing, but if office staff aren’t aligned to those goals, resources can be wasted. The first step is perhaps to create a ‘sustainability vision’ for the company. This is where you set out your goals and methodology for creating your sustainable office. This can include things like where rubbish recycling goes within the office, usage of equipment/fittings and the staff behaviours you might expect.

These ideally need to written in an official policy document that can be distributed to staff and be available at all times as a reference point.

2. Design the office with sustainable actions in mind

Basically, if you want people to recycle more then you need to make it easy for them to do so. Is there easy access to recycling bins and enough of them, or do you need to change the layout of the office?

Office’s aesthetics may also help. Natural colours might be better at promoting a sustainable mindset than dull colours like white, grey and beige. Greens and blues are natural choices. For more information on the effect of these colour on the office environment read our blog on the subject.

3. Involve all staff

Like with any project, there are going to be some who are more eager to participate in sustainability policies than others. You need to identify these people and bring them onboard as influencers within the business.

It will be important however to train all staff on how they can help make the office more sustainable. The key thing here will be involvement and getting initiatives that everyone buys into.

We found this article on 15 ways to promote sustainability in the office – as well useful tips it highlights the employee benefits as well as cost saving associated with creating a sustainable office environment.

 

4. Measure results and feedback

Try to find ways to measure results. You could monitor the usage of electricity, gas and even rubbish bins.

Don’t just leave it at that. Always feedback to employees how their work is helping to turn your company into a sustainable business. Feedback is a vital part of any culture shift – without it, you can’t break the cycle.

 

 

Focus on clean floors Covid-19

Deep Clean sanitiser on carpet tiles in office

Antibacterial flooring the new focus

 

Commercial flooring that resists dirt and pathogens and that’s easy to clean could be one of the new purchasing priorities for organisations. Though good looks and value for money will still matter.

Never has the subject of cleanliness been more discussed and promoted in recent times!  Frequent deep cleans may become essential to protect the health of building occupants and an expectation of staff returning to the workplace.

This could well lead to companies commissioning replacement flooring from a new health-focused perspective. Aesthetics and durability will still be priorities, but from now on they could also be doubling up efforts to find the best commercial flooring material to keep clean or ways to keep it clean.

Safety Flooring

A range of antibacterial flooring that meets style, safety and additional hygiene standards is something Duraflor already offers. These properties can be found in the company’s Duragrip and Resolute ranges.  Both these ranges are recommended for healthcare environments, schools and other public places but are certainly not out of place in an office setting, especially break-out areas. This antibacterial flooring is easy to clean and maintain, has excellent life-cycle costs and offers a very sustainable alternative versus many other flooring types.

Cienna is a safety flooring which is particularly attractive due to its highly defined wood and stone effect designs. Its PUR coating (a heavier weight version of polyurethane) makes it perfect for education, healthcare, hospitality and the public sector, where maintenance needs to be minimal but appearance and hygiene need to stay maximum at all times.

For areas where hygiene is paramount, such as the healthcare profession, we strongly advise looking at our Galahad self-disinfecting vinyl flooring range. It uses nano-silver technology and a photosynthesis process to eliminate 99.9% bacteria including MRSA, VRE and E-coli without the need for any chemical floor cleaners.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles

LVT has always been associated with ease of maintenance and a high level of hygiene. It is both water resistant and easy to clean. In fact two of the key reasons for specifying Luxury Vinyl Tiles are durability and ease of maintenance.

Carpet Tiles Hygiene

For clients looking to use carpet tiles, there are also ways to ensure that these offer a similar high standard of protection. Duraflor now offers and range of Deep Clean Sanitisers which are perfect for all flooring types and kill 99.9% of bacteria.

Recommendations

We provide guidance on cleaning and maintenance of all our flooring products on our product range pages.  It is likely that in a post-coronavirus office setting, deep cleaning, which we had previously recommended on a less frequent basis will become the norm. For more information about flooring hygiene contact us on 01592 630030.

Interior designers working from home

Interior Designer working from home

 

Practical Tips for Interior Designers working from home

 

If you’re a designer who has suddenly found themselves working from home, the tips below might help you to stay productive, creatively focused and happy!

Many interior designers are suddenly being forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home poses a unique set of problems for designers, who often have to physically study and analyse a building as part of their design process. If you’re a designer who feels their creative skills are being limited by working from home, this may help…

1. Commute to work and set regular hours

Your job was probably rarely  9-5, as it often revolved around deadlines and client meetings. For this reason, you may be struggling to make yourself productive at different times of the day and find yourself working well into an evening. It is however recognised as important to wake up at the same time every day and to ensure you get into a new routine whilst working remotely. One thing that might help is the idea of commuting to work. Before starting leave the house and take a longish walk then enter the house as if you were entering work, then at the end of the day repeat the exercise as part of a returning home routine. The could help you both focus and relax.

2. Keep busy

Due to the uncertainty of the pandemic, you have found many clients have cancelled your services or postponed office renovation work. You should, however, see this as an opportunity to get ahead of your work once the pandemic restrictions have been lifted. During this time you can start to consider design solutions that may appeal to clients in a post-pandemic world. For example, you may wish to begin creating a mood board of commercial flooring solutions, such as vinyl flooring, that is easy to clean and sanitise.

3. Scout for new clients

If you live in an area with many businesses, you can purposefully choose to walk or jog past these places to look for new clients. If you do not live near any businesses you could dedicate time to researching businesses online and start making a list of potential new clients.

4. Personal Development

Many manufacturers and commercial interior suppliers are offering CPD or product trend training, something which Duraflor themselves are currently offering. There has probably never been a better time to gain a much greater understanding of products and trends out there. Call us on 01592 630030 or use our contact form, if you would like us to present key trends and insights to flooring and the flooring market – we can certainly make some great use of your time and will get straight back to you.

4. Create a dedicated workstation

As you sit and create beautiful work and office spaces for your clients, it is important you do not neglect yourself. Sitting and working from a bed has been proven to have a negative effect on an individual’s mental health, as it blurs the lines between relaxation and work. Instead, make yourself a dedicated workstation (if you don’t have an office, a kitchen table will work) and ensure you add features that will help you feel more productive and happy, for example, a plant or item you might have on your desk at work. For more general tips take a look at this website.