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FRONT OF HOUSE


IS YOUR LOBBY READY?


FMs can make layout, equipment, and process changes to entrances to help workers and other visitors re-adjust to the post-COVID-19 world, explains Emily Newton, Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized.


After more than a year, the end of the pandemic may be in sight. For businesses, this is great news — a sign that consumer confi dence and a more stable supply chain may return soon. Adjusting to the new normal, however, may be a challenge for many.


Some workers are likely to remain anxious and have trouble adjusting to working back in the offi ce after the pandemic is over. A new lobby may be necessary in a post-COVID-19 world: one that prioritises employee health and safety.


Some people will be reluctant to


return to normal life While case rates are falling and vaccination across the western world continues at a rapid pace, the pandemic isn’t over yet. Importantly, even if the threat of COVID-19 passes completely, FMs and business owners will also need to contend with the lingering mental health impact of the pandemic.


The past year has been extraordinarily stressful for many. Public health offi cials believe that in some people, that stress may even develop into conditions like post- traumatic stress disorder.


Making changes to the lobby area can help mitigate the worst of these impacts and make the transition back to the offi ce simpler for those most affected by the pandemic.


Aesthetic and layout changes for a


post-pandemic lobby The current moment also presents a good opportunity to make major changes to the lobby’s look and layout. While many workers are continuing to work from home, renovations are less likely to be interrupted or disrupt work.


The right changes can help reassure workers once they are able to return to the building.


Building facades, for example, can have a major impact on the emotional impact a building has. Different patterns, for example, have been found to have signifi cantly varying effects on a person’s emotional state.


Architects know this, which is why many modern schools, for example, are designed with playful and colorful patterned facades that may help make the building more inviting. Changes to the lobby interior may also help make it more appealing to returning workers.


A new coat of paint may have a signifi cant impact. Soothing colors like blues and greens, for example, may help put lobby visitors at ease. More energetic colors, like reds and yellows, may also be a good option.


42 | TOMORROW’S FM


Larger windows that offer more natural light may also help make the lobby a more comforting space. Increasing the amount of natural light the lobby receives can also help you reduce lighting costs. The more sunlight the room receives, the fewer artifi cial lights you will need.


Plants can also have a positive effect on your visitors’ mood. In the same way that increased access to green spaces can reduce stress and symptoms of depression, plants in offi ce settings can have a small but noticeable impact on occupants’ mental health, according to some recent psychological research.


Other changes that help to reduce a lobby’s environmental quality problems — like noise and uncomfortable temperatures — can provide similar benefi ts. If visitors have complained about lobby noise in the past, acoustic panels and partitions may help reduce the impact of noise. Upholstered seating, tile fl oors, carpet, and artwork can also help absorb sound.


Updating the lobby for the world Improved knowledge of how disease spreads may make workers more concerned about and attentive to the potential spread of germs and other microbial contaminants. FMs may want to take steps that reassure these workers by prioritising lobby cleanliness and mitigating the spread of disease.


Fortunately, many of the changes recommended by public health offi cials during the pandemic will remain good health practice, even after the pandemic is over.


If your workplace changed business practices or made upgrades to help prioritize visitor health during the pandemic, keeping these changes in place may be a good strategy. Upgrades like sensors that monitor occupant density, new disinfection protocols, curbside operations, and touchless technology are likely worth keeping in place.


While you may want to reduce the impact or extent of existing programs — by increasing the number of visitors who can be in the lobby at a time or reducing chair spacing, for example — they will continue to provide health benefi ts. They may also be benefi cial for offi ce morale and customer confi dence.


If your offi ce or workplace did not institute new health practices during COVID, there are a few effective upgrades and processes you can start with. Curbside pickup, text notifi cation programs that allow customers to wait in their car, and similar services, for example,


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