The world is reinventing itself for an ever-uncertain reality. The life, work and leisure models that were valid just a few months ago are being deeply questioned, as we search for safe environments that ensure the health of those occupying them. From housing architecture, workspaces or even places of leisure such as bars, hotels and shops, to cities themselves, everything is being restructured.
The urban layout, the way buildings work, the hierarchy at many companies (those that have been “forced” to reinvent themselves and switch to remote working) or the way we socialise, spend our free time and act with regards to our consumer habits are evolving towards new models that will make the world completely different to how it was before. The healthcare crisis provoked by Covid-19 is triggering a new social paradigm that, besides changing our traditional relationships, is incorporating new consumption patterns. Industries such as sales, catering and the hotel trade need to make a colossal effort to adapt to this new context.
If there is anything that characterises this unusual situation it is the great capacity to change that it requires and the need for flexible environments that are able to respond to changing needs. At a time when we are beginning to talk about getting back some sort of social life, albeit limited and under strict controls, this versatility which has been imposed by the healthcare, domestic and work sectors must also reach public spaces such as shops, bars, restaurants and hotels.
Redistributing the spaces in order to comply with the imposed safety distances, keeping a strict control over capacity, as well as the cleaning and disinfection protocols, and using anti-bacterial furniture, materials and finishes are some of the measures used to ensure that public spaces are safe.
Solutions like the protective screens used in recent months in hospitals to guarantee the safety of patients, and on pharmacy counters to separate customers from members of staff, which many companies have also already started to install at their offices, are now an ideal alternative for shops and hotels to open back up again. Versatile, stable, easy to assemble and clean, they ensure that users have enough separation between them without losing out on interaction and eye contact.
When speaking about bars and restaurants and their awaited reopening, it is essential that they choose to redistribute the space in order to safeguard the safety of staff and customers. The uncertainty of this current situation and the next few months makes choosing furniture and layouts that can be easily adapted to any situation and permitted capacity vital.
Becoming extra resourceful and finding smart solutions to take maximum advantage of the available space and exploit outdoor areas is essential so that the hotel and restaurant trade can still be profitable.
Actiu is committed to ergonomic and easy-to-clean furniture, such as the Wing, Whass, Urban, Viva, Plek and Noom 50 meeting chairs. They are customisable, the majority are suitable for both indoors and outdoors and can be stacked or folded, meaning they do not occupy much space when not in use.
In order to reduce the spread of the virus, mobile separating panels can also be used which combine functionality and aesthetics in one; besides ensuring safety for the customers, they are distinguishing in design and create a greater sense of privacy.
Cross-sectional spaces for work and socialising, which have become increasingly common in places like hotels, banks and airports, are also going to undergo significant restructuring. Besides offering the highest possible guarantees in terms of hygiene and safety in rooms, it is important that hotels repurpose communal areas that are so much more than mere waiting and reception areas nowadays. Signalling a flow of movement to avoid people meeting, limiting decor as much as possible, using anti-bacterial materials that are easy to clean as well as versatile furniture that allows for the layout of the space to be easily changed up, or ensuring good ventilation and air circulation are all priorities when creating safe spaces.
Using continuous surfaces and materials that are easy to clean and maintain is also essential for guaranteeing suitable hygiene. The 0% formaldehyde boards on the Actiu Tabula all-purpose tables increase sustainability and well-being.
The traditional tablecloths that haven’t been used for years can be brought back as a result of this crisis: according to the Bioburden report from the Textile Research Institute (AITEX), eating without a tablecloth multiplies the amount of bacteria on a table by 37. Smart textiles could be an interesting alternative to traditional fabrics due to their capacity to react to external stimuli such as bacteria.
Public spaces, which are becoming increasingly automated as time goes on, will implement automatic doors, voice-activated lifts, or entrances, toilets and payments accessed using mobile phones. In many bars and restaurants digital menus will replace traditional paper ones, and technology devices integrated in the classic decor elements will avoid direct contact and any possible infection. All of this will go hand-in-hand with a suitable protocol of action for customers and members of staff to ensure safe spaces that support our well-being.