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Restarting Retail and Office with Social Distancing Limitations

May 13, 20202 min read

Social anxiety will continue as we re-open retail, restaurants, and offices. The social separation requirements are not going away, however, there are too many confined areas that we simply cannot have 6-foot separation. We have learned how airlines, offices, and retail such as salons are dealing with this fact and should take our cues from them as we return to work and reopening. We have been consulting with clients interested in mitigating these challenges with physical barriers, cleaning protocols, and employee policies.

How are you planning to reopen?

We’re happy to discuss ideas to help you get back to business with safety AND profitability in mind.


The dreaded fabric cubicle maze – the office design enemy over the past 30 years- may be back in some form. Today’s open office design complicates limiting virus transmission. Suddenly, temporary partitions are being considered again. Perhaps not the mauve fabric-sided units from 1992, but a flitted plexiglass unit with gray textile. These units, combined with a lower headcount with employees working remotely, will help alleviate potential transmission in the office environments.


In restaurants, custom millwork and fabric partitions can be fabricated to separate booths without impacting the design aesthetic. We’ve spoken with millwork fabricators who are interested in helping restaurants reopen with measures in place that allow for a greater customer count without compromising the look and feel.

Electrostatic sanitation is a protocol that uses positively charged ions to spray surfaces with 360-degree contact effectiveness. This has been used in the paint industry for many years and is available for use in offices and commercial facilities as well. There are many available cleaners with very low toxicity and the incremental operating cost is minor. This method can provide continuous protection on all furniture and fixtures for up to 30 days and be a differentiator for re-opening restaurants.

Interior paths of travel in the new workplace and retail is another fascinating component of this restart. Outside, people walk around each other now, giving a wide breadth for each other. In grocery stores, awkward pivots to get out of another’s way have become the norm. This won’t work for hospitality employees, who will be again charged with making customers feel comfortable and taken care of. Training will be key to provide an optimal response, including a circular “one-way” clockwise path for servers and bussers to avoid discomfort. Using the floor plans and furniture arrangement to maximize this opportunity will go a long way making people comfortable again in restaurants and offices alike.

*The report raises legal questions that are complex and fact-dependent. We advise consulting with an attorney to best address them specifically as we are not attorneys nor practice law.

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4Site Advisors

Representing Owners in Commercial and Residential Projects Throughout The United States.

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