Two woman with protective face mask and surgical gloves in bank waiting room

It would be a vast understatement to say that COVID-19 has changed life as we know it permanently. Even if/when things go “back to normal,” no one can say for sure when this time will come and how society will look.

While most assumed that business, as usual, would resume within a matter of weeks, it is clear that this is not the case. As we pass a second season with restricted events, new safety measures, social-distancing, and mask-wearing, adaptation is the name of the game.

For businesses to continue to grow and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, reality and creativity need to work hand-in-hand. Acknowledging the depth and seriousness of the impacts this global pandemic has had on us is the first step. Next, we must learn new ways to conduct business that coincide nicely with social-distancing.

At Norwest Contractors, building design with social distancing in mind is something we think of often. Moving forward, with or without the Coronavirus, we know that social distancing may have a role for commercial businesses, healthcare facilities, and other public spaces. In this article, we’re sharing our ideas for how contractors and building designers can prevail now and in the future through building design with social distancing in mind.

Social distancing floor sign warning about safe distance between people of 6 feet. Public health measure to prevent further spread of new corona virus Covid-19 infections.

COVID-19 & Construction: Creativity Required

As we monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a worthwhile consideration to implement safety measures right from the start of the initial building design. Social distancing, mask-wearing, and enhanced cleaning measures may be easier with the right building layout, flow, and innovative design.

Focus on Future-Proof Design

COVID-19 is not as temporary as most think. Even with a vaccine on the horizon, there is a good chance that the Coronavirus is here to stay. It is wise for business owners to consider new building designs and plans that easily incorporate social-distancing and new CDC guidelines to minimize COVID-19 spread.

Improve & Adapt Design Flow

Design for distance! Wider hallways, grab-and-go food services, expansive entryways, markers on the floor to remind workers and customers to observe social distancing — all of these ideas can easily integrate into your design plans.

Also, deliveries can be reworked to minimize person-to-person interaction. An investment in isolation rooms with UV disinfecting lights and other precautions could help move production along and keep all parties safe. Manufacturers may want to pay special attention to this kind of modification and reconsider how their shipping and receiving department operates.

Our contractors at Norwest are already used to working around specific confines or restrictions. We welcome the challenge to design and construct commercial spaces that make it easy to follow the guidelines that minimize the spread of Coronavirus.

Consider Airflow & Ventilation

Businesses can mitigate Coronavirus’s spread by investing in upgraded HVAC and air filtration systems. While the top-of-the-line model may not have been on your sights a year ago, it is a worthwhile investment to consider now. Airflow has a significant impact on the flow of pathogens, and businesses can reduce the risk of viral spread with better HVAC systems.

Remain Flexible & Open-Minded

While COVID-19 remains the top headline of nearly every news story, it is important to take things a day, or a project, at a time. Flexibility and patience will come in handy now. Consider changing any original designs to layouts that are more conducive to social distancing and personal safety.

Preexisting locations that need modification can benefit from retrofit construction or an expansion of some kind. Even if a business is not in the process of building or remodeling, simple changes can make a big difference.

Grocery Shopping check out with a customer and a cashier.

What’s Next for Construction during COVID-19?

While we can’t predict what the construction industry will look like 6 to 12 months from now, our contractors are committed to using the best of their skills and experience to adapt to this “new normal.” As with any challenge in life, seeing roadblocks as opportunities serves one far better than lamenting on the past or resisting something new.

At Norwest, we choose to see this current pandemic as an opportunity to revise our current understanding of design, create commercial buildings with social distancing in mind, and adapt our plans to match current guidelines. Wherever 2020 continues to take us, our team is ready for the challenge.

Start Your Building Design with Social Distancing in Mind

Norwest Contractors has decades of combined experience among our contractors, designers, and architects. For years, we have been a trusted building resource for healthcare facilities, dentists, veterinarians, retail shop owners, and restaurants. We support small businesses in Portland and elsewhere in the Willamette Valley by designing, planning, and building beautiful facilities that stand out.

Businesspeople working and maintaining social distance on a sofa in a modern office

Work with Norwest Contractors | Portland, OR

Norwest Contractors is ready to design the medical clinic, dentist office, industrial space, or retail building you have been dreaming of building. Get in touch with our team today to let us know more about what you have in mind for your future.

Check out more design and building resources below:

DesignLab: The Secret to Your Design Success
Incorporating Evidence-Based Design in Your Healthcare Facility
Construction & Remodeling Challenges for Vet Clinics

Tell us about your project HERE and get started today!