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How flooring can promote safe social distancing

23 October 2020

FLOORING AND carpet design are an innovative way to bring hygiene, flexibility and safety to a space. Bob Mortimer explores the future of office spaces and how flooring can be used to promote safe social distancing.

WITH CORONAVIRUS here to stay, for now, there is a strong urgency for spaces to be COVID secure. If the right measures are not taken, buildings that are utilised by many people can become breeding grounds for the virus, resulting in further infections. Each person plays a crucial part in stopping the spread, and therefore must be kept safe.

During this time, hygiene and safety is of paramount importance, and must be taken seriously. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, COVID-19 can linger on surfaces for up to 72 hours. Therefore, it’s important that any space, domestic or commercial, undergoes cleaning on a regular basis and preventative measures are implemented.

As the virus is here for longer than initially anticipated, the safest spaces are those that have adapted to provide long-term solutions. How to pandemic-proof offices and community spaces has become a hot topic as of late, with many facilities managers looking to make changes to interior design to fit with government guidelines.

Hygiene matters more than ever
Good hygiene is one of the strongest defences against the virus. If an individual touches a surface that has been in contact with coronavirus, then touches their face, they could make themselves ill. One contaminated surface has the potential to infect hundreds of people, therefore stringent cleaning procedures are vital.
With government advice consistently promoting handwashing, suitable facilities must be easily available. Although people can bring their own compact bottle of hand sanitiser to work, this essential item can be easily forgotten. A more permanent and reliable system needs to be introduced in the workplace and learning environments to ensure that staff and students are always protected.

Handwashing stations are a necessity that can bring hygiene and cleanliness to any space. If individuals use these as soon as they enter a space, the contamination of surfaces is prevented. These stations should be easy to see in the busiest of environments, and carpet is a great solution for this.

Carpet tiles can be used to surround and highlight the designated hand washing area. Laying four tiles in a line can also work as a pathway, to ensure that it is visited as soon as anyone enters the space. Brightly coloured carpet tiles that stand out against existing flooring designs work best, as these can be easily seen.

Recent studies are beginning to show that COVID-19 lingers on porous surfaces, such as carpet, for less time than other alternatives. This makes it one of the most hygienic flooring solutions for offices and community spaces.

Heightened cleaning measures
Rigorous cleaning procedures must be introduced to maintain high levels of hygiene. Surfaces must be consistently wiped down at regular intervals with antibacterial wipes, and flooring must be kept clean and dirt free. These routines must be repeatedly undertaken throughout the working day and when staff have left for the day.

To ensure that cleaning is undertaken by staff, some offices have created monitored systems. Staff can show a green or red sticker on their desk, to indicate whether they have cleaned their desk and surrounding space. A reward scheme can even be introduced, giving recognition to the most clean colleagues.
But, the responsibility of creating a safe workspace does not solely rely on the users of a space. The employment of professional cleaners is beneficial, to ensure facilities remain safe and secure. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is the best way to prevent coronavirus. Vacuuming should be carried out every day to pick up dirt and debris, but deep cleaning is also a great defence against coronavirus and other harmful bacteria.

The installation of entrance mats is an easy way to promote cleanliness. After all, the best way to clean a space is to prevent it getting dirty in the first place. Our Bespoke Entrance Products are a stylish solution to leave a long-lasting impression and leave your interior space preserved and clean. Built with the latest innovative technologies that trap and stop the spread of dirt, bad hygiene is stopped in its tracks.

Flexible interiors are the future
With the future uncertain regarding COVID-19, interiors must be able to quickly adapt to whatever change is thrown at them. The functionality of a space is held with high importance, as it must continue to conform to the latest government guidelines.

Open plan spaces are favoured, to allow people to keep a safe social distance. Stackable chairs, desks on wheels and other movable solutions will be used to allow a space to be adapted to different scenarios and situations. Hard wearing and durable materials are preferred for furniture and furnishings, as they will stand the test of time.

With a demand for well ventilated and airy spaces, interior design has become intertwined with the great outdoors. Scientists believe that coronavirus transmission rates are lower outdoors, as viral particles are diluted by fresh air and destroyed by UV rays from the sun. For this reason, outdoor lunch breaks, exercise and even business meetings will be encouraged. Bi-folding doors that open up to bring the outdoors in are ideal for commercial and office spaces.

As well as furniture, flooring that can be lifted and moved would be an ideal feature in a pandemic-proofed space. Carpet tiles can be laid to create borders and zones, which can be used to distinguish different areas within a building. If government guidelines change, the tiles can be easily adapted accordingly to create a multi-functional space.

Our Supacord carpets have been a practical flooring solution in high traffic commercial environments for decades. With durable and anti-fray properties, these high-quality carpet tiles will stand the test of time. Available in 42 colours which easily match corporate colour schemes, you’re sure to find a colour that works for your space.

How to use flooring to pandemic proof spaces
It’s easy to forget social distancing rules when you enter a space. Therefore people must be constantly reminded of the important regulations in place. These must be in the form of simple and easy to read instructions which can be clearly seen from afar. They must stand out from the setting they are placed in, with fluorescent and bright colours preferred.

Moreover, many spaces have introduced one-way systems to direct traffic. Studies show that pedestrian flow systems can help maintain social distancing measures, by reducing contact between individuals. These are helpful in allowing people to follow the rules and keep themselves safe.
Although hazard tape and stickers provide a quick fix, they are only a short-term solution. They are often made cheaply, so suffer wear and tear very quickly. Furthermore, if these materials begin to peel off, they can result in slips, trips and falls. Therefore, it’s important to invest in longer term solutions, like social distancing carpet tiles.

Social distancing carpet tiles can aid with way-finding and remind individuals to keep apart from one another. With laser engraved arrows and images which can subtly display vital messages to students, staff and visitors. Available in grey, blue and green, learning environments and companies can choose between a subtle, modern look or striking, bold aesthetic.

Bob Mortimer is UK & Ireland sales manager at Heckmondwike FB, one of the UK’s leading carpet manufacturers, with over 40 years’ experience. For further information email sales@heckmondwike-fb.co.uk.https://sales@heckmondwike-fb.co.uk