The world of work has fundamentally changed as a result of social distancing. While many people are currently still working remotely, employers are busy exploring how they can enable people to return to work or reopen their business premises while also ensuring social distancing measures are followed.
We may have gotten used to taped lines and icons on the floor to help us safely queue at supermarkets and garden centres, but maintaining a safe flow of people in offices, restaurants or other venues is a different challenge. That said, it also presents opportunities for employers and facilities managers to think creatively.
By using elements of the natural world, you can meet social distancing requirements and create an environment that can improve the sense of wellbeing for all those who use it.
Many employers or building managers may look to create designated lanes in corridors or thoroughfares to regulate traffic flows and help to maintain social distancing. Drawing or sticking lines on the floor is the easiest way to implement this, but these are not always noticed or followed. Physical barriers such as queue barrier belts or ropes can seem harsh and impersonal. Plant arrangements on the other hand, will help create clear traffic paths and enhance the overall space. You could use something elaborate like a hedge or planter box, or simply arrange several potted plants into rows to create lanes.
Plants such as Devil’s Ivy which can survive in both low light and bright environments or the low maintenance Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, make excellent and easy-to-maintain choices to create ‘green lanes’. Make sure that you use sturdy plant pots to create defined, effective lanes that will look at home in any interior aesthetic.
Designate areas that are off limits
Plants are also a great way to designate spaces in a room that are currently not in use due to social distancing – for example certain desks in an office or tables at a restaurant.
You could take this even further by installing a freestanding green wall or screen to close off spaces in a more structured way. Nature looks good in almost any interior design scheme and green walls and screens can be designed to match almost any colour scheme. There are many benefits to bringing the natural world into your facility – it can help improve the mood of those using the space, improve air quality and even reduce noise pollution.
Flowering plants such as Orchids are great for green walls – they are surprisingly low maintenance and come in a variety of colours to create impressive design feature.
If you’re unsure which plants to use, or worried about the upkeep involved with more natural social distancing techniques, you could try using artificial plants. If sourced from professional interior landscaping companies, these can look very realistic and offer some of the benefits of live plants. Most importantly, they can still help you to promote social distancing within a facility. After all, safety will need to be priority number one when businesses start to re-open, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done in a way that is easy on the eye.