As the UK looks towards heaving itself out of the national lockdown, some industries are already making clear their plans to reopen. But, with the real possibility of a second wave of Coronavirus infections, it’s vital that shops, restaurants and offices do all they can to keep customers and employees safe.
Naturally, business owners want to be trading again as soon as it is acceptable to do so, but by the same token – will consumers want to leave the safety of their homes to shop, work and socialise when online ordering and remote working has gradually become routine?
Is social distancing the new normal?
It’s been one of the buzzwords of 2020, but it looks as though social distancing is here to stay. Keeping buyers and colleagues apart is not only central to protecting everyone’s health, but being seen to have measures in place will be key in tempting people back through the door.
Take the leisure and retail sectors, for example. From restaurants to cinemas, live music venues and gyms, businesses were adapting long before the lockdown came. Hollywood Bowl closed alternate aisles in its bowling centres, and gyms were hyper-vigilant in their cleaning regimes – empathy, adaptability and a willingness to do what it takes to make clients feel safe, will pay dividends.
Just as we have become so used to seeing ‘no smoking’ signs in public areas, social distancing signage is likely to be displayed among restaurant tables, organisational waiting rooms and queuing systems for the foreseeable future.
What will the high-street look like?
It might seem as though lazy afternoons drifting from shop to shop will be a thing of the past, but in some electrical outlets, DIY centres, children’s clothing stores and garden centres are already amongst the first shops to reopen. Albeit slowly and with strict measures in place.
Naturally, consumers will be ultra-aware of meeting ‘oncoming traffic’ in the walkways and the proximity of others within the changing rooms – as well as wondering who has touched what. In response, John Lewis has already established a three-stage plan to reopen stores once ministers give the go-ahead – with a ‘restart team’ employed to focus solely on the practicalities of the procedure, including the stocking of shelves.
Branded hand sanitising stations and revamped directional signage shouldn’t be an afterthought either. Properly branded floor vinyl, wall graphics and hanging banners will assist in ‘controlling’ the crowds, while investment into hand gels will help to breed confidence in buyers.
How to make my office safe once lockdown is lifted
It goes without saying that office life is going to change dramatically, with employers already considering how to reconfigure space, adjust working hours and order branded partitioning to ensure a safe return for staff.
Workstations must be set up to ensure a 2m gap between colleagues, small meeting rooms will be virtually redundant and there’s a chance that ‘business as usual’ will see old routines return.
Clear signage will need to be installed in kitchens, stairwells, boardrooms and breakout spaces in order to remind colleagues to maintain a healthy distance – and wipe down any surfaces prior to leaving.
It is possible to remain on brand, instil a level of confidence in customers and adhere to Government guidance and regulations when the time comes to return to work. That’s why we’ve launched our social distancing range, to provide visually appealing pre-designed graphics, alongside a range of bespoke options.