As we start to return to our work environments, many of us may experience some anxiety as to how the space will be set up to keep us safe and less vulnerable to the recent virus that has plagued us. While companies are looking for new ways to create safe, social distanced areas for employees, there is a fine line between designing the space to be safe, while not making it seem too isolating and sterile.
While there will be numerous ways to achieve the safe distancing aspect of the space such as protective barriers between workstations and alternating employee schedules, these are reminders of a lingering “new normal” in the workplace. So how can we design spaces with these new criteria for safe environments while reducing anxiety?
It is a known fact that nature can have a soothing effect on humans. By introducing elements such as colors found in nature into the more isolated areas, this may help to detract from some of the protective measures we are now forced to incorporate. Therefore, creating a connection from the unfamiliar to the familiar.
Another big consideration moving forward will be the materials used in the space to promote health and easy of clean-ability. For instance, where softer surfaces may have been used in spaces before, such as carpet, a different material may be considered such as a Luxury Vinyl Tile because of its durability, clean-ability and aesthetics to nature. Today there are many options in flooring such as textile composite flooring which has the attributes of a soft surface while maintaining the durability of a hard surface. It also has one of the highest acoustical ratings which can reduce noise in the more open, separated, or distanced spaces. therefore, helping to alleviate stress caused by too many distracting sounds.
This new normal has presented new challenges for designer’s but this is where designers thrive best. Not only are they educated in the obvious areas of creating environments that are safe, functional and aesthetically pleasing, they are constantly evolving to meet the needs our ever changing world to solve the problems of what we see today, but also the challenges we face tomorrow.
Nicole Lee is the owner of Material Matters where she is an independent professional representative of two flooring manufacturers, EF Contract and Siena USA. With a focus on the A+D markets, she also works closely with Flooring Dealers, End Users, as well as General Contractors to ensure that each install is successful and that the client is happy. Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Miami International University and is passionate about all aspects of design. She currently holds the VP of Events position for IIDA SFC where she oversees a team of industry members to create the chapters two largest events, The BRAGG Awards and Design Mix. Nicole enjoys the connections and friendships she has made over the years within the design community and strives to continue to promote the importance of advocacy for the Interior Design Profession.