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Floorless ways to improve hygiene and social distancing

06 January 2021

Bob Mortimer shares his expert tips and some of the ways that flooring can be used to improve hygiene, safety and promote safe social distancing.

2020 WILL be a year that many businesses won't forget in a hurry. Last year was a hugely difficult time, where many businesses were forced to quickly adapt to become safe to operate. The repercussions of this mean that pandemic proofing became, and is still, critically important for commercial and public businesses throughout the UK.

As hygiene and safety become essential in the workplace, one of the most popular trends to create a safe space is through hand sanitising stations. To promote easy access, these are usually placed at the entrance of a space. Hazard tape has also become a common appearance, with messaging that works to enforce the 2 metre rule.

These methods and other means of pandemic proofing must be carried into 2021. Although there are vaccines being currently rolled out, there is much uncertainty over when they will become widely available and life will return to normality. Spaces must be future-proofed to remain safe.

Quick-fix solutions such as hazard tape were needed at the start of the pandemic, when businesses had to adapt in a hurry. However, as businesses have realised they need to look for long term actions, they have looked towards more permanent flooring solutions to subtly display important messages and ensure a safe distance is maintained.

Flexibility, borders, one-way systems and entrance mats can help facilities future-proof their flooring.

Install flexible carpet tiles 

As government advice continues to change, spaces have had to adapt accordingly to become safe. Practicality is preferred over aesthetic look, in order to meet the strict guidelines needed to be covid-compliant. Materials and furniture which are moveable, versatile and durable will be favoured for years to come.

In flooring, carpet tiles have increasingly grown in popularity. Unlike normal carpets, tiles are easier to install and move, as they can be easily lifted and interchanged. They can also be installed with minimal disruption, making them the quickest way to make long-term changes. Areas can be replaced, without having to replace the entire floor. 

Carpet tiles are also one of the most hygienic flooring types. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, coronavirus can live on non-porous surfaces such as plastic and laminate for up to 72 hours. Therefore, porous surfaces, such as carpet, are the best materials to use to make a space cleanly and secure.

Some of the latest innovations, like our Social Distancing Carpet Tiles, can be placed to seamlessly blend in with any space, whilst clearly conveying important messages. When the time comes that the carpet tiles are no longer needed, they can simply be removed and exchanged, without the need to replace the entire flooring.

Creation of borders and zones

When entering and navigating across a space, social distancing rules can easily be neglected and forgotten. As the virus is more likely to spread when people are in close proximity to one an    other, the risk of an outbreak within a business is heightened. This scenario can be hugely damaging and have critical consequences, so it must be prevented at all costs.

To tackle this issue, users of a space need to be constantly reminded of the rules and regulations. One of the ways to do this is through the creation of visual borders and zones, which is one of the simplest ways to emphasize guidelines that are in place, and help with wayfinding. When effectively created and utilised, these designs will speak for themselves.

Borders and zones made of bright and contrasting colours, patterns and designs work best to make them stand out in a space. This is even more effective when paired against modern block, neutral colours, so these features can be easily seen, even in the most stylish and contemporary environments. 

Conveniently, this colour design also fits in with the trend of colour contrasting, which is expected to sweep the world’s commercial and spaces this year. Laying four carpet tiles in a line, or even creating a large square pattern on the floor, can help to make the safe distance, which needs to be present, clear and obvious.

This practice, combined with installing hand sanitising stations, heightened cleaning measures and reduced workforce inside a space, can help to create an incredibly hygienic space. This, in turn, can aid in preventing and reducing the spread of coronavirus.

One-way systems are the ‘way’ forward

Flooring can be used to implement one-way systems, which can help manage and direct the flow of traffic. These can also aid with wayfinding around a building, especially one that visitors could find new and unfamiliar. This limits visitors from venturing through all of a building to get to where they need to be, instead only going through part of it.

One-way systems have a range of benefits, one being that people do not have to worry about others approaching their line of traffic. This means that there are less accidents, and their journey through the building is much easier and more convenient. These systems work best in areas of high traffic, such as corridors in schools and universities, and around large offices.

The British Standards Institution (BSI) recommends pedestrian flow systems, as part of their guidelines to help businesses manage a safe workplace. Studies show that these systems help maintain social distancing measures, by reducing contact between individuals. By pointing people in the right direction, these systems can effortlessly aid people in keeping themselves and others safe from coronavirus.
Our Social Distancing Carpet Tiles display important messages and signage, which can help to further emphasize the rules in place. The laser engraved arrow design can be used to show the direction of traffic through flooring, and other messaging can remind people to keep apart.

Step in and stop dirt

Statistics show that up to 80% of the dirt in a building is brought in on the soles of people’s shoes. Without any measures to tackle this, a space can become filthy and unhygienic in a very short period of time.

Installing a good entrance matting system can improve safety and stop dirt, debris and bacteria from being brought into a building from outside. The right entrance mat can even significantly reduce cleaning and maintenance costs.

The length of an entrance mat is highly important, as a mat that is too short can have the same level of impact as no mat at all. A mat needs to be long enough to absorb moisture and clean shoes as people walk across it.

It is suggested that a minimum of six footsteps are needed to trap and remove dirt, debris and moisture effectively. This is referred to as the six-step rule, which should definitely be a high consideration when choosing the right matting for a building.

High quality logo mats can also be helpful to increase brand awareness, as this is one of the first things visitors will see upon entering a building. They can even incorporate other messaging, to display social distancing safety guidelines. This way, people are immediately reminded of the rules in place.

The latest entrance matting solutions, such as our Bespoke Entrance Products are a great option for your building. Manufactured using our incredibly durable Diamond entrance carpets, these modern mats can effortlessly bring important messaging to a space.

Heckmondwike FB is one of the UK’s leading carpet manufacturers, with more than 40 years’ experience. For further information, contact 01924 406161 or email sales@heckmondwike-fb.co.uk

Bob Mortimer is UK & Ireland sales manager at Heckmondwike.