In this article we look at two different sectors for UK shopfitters – both the office and restaurant – to see what potential changes coronavirus may have wrought. Take a look to see how the new restrictions will probably alter our current circumstances:


How Offices will Change due to Coronavirus

It has been called the ‘office of the future’ – and certainly the impressive Bee’ah Head Office in UAE has most of the anti-coronavirus credentials necessary for our new working practices.

Staff at the waste management company rarely need to touch the building with their hands. This is down to what architects refer to as ‘contactless pathways’. Think motion sensors and facial recognition technology automatically opening doors. Lifts and coffee, meanwhile, can be ordered via a smartphone. And, as for the ventilation, lights and blinds – well, it’s also possible to control these with technology and, crucially, without leaving a single fingerprint.

Designed by leading design firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) it appears to be an ideal office design post-lockdown. But what are the other changes office workers can expect to see introduced by UK shopfitters in the future? And will they all be down to designers, or will legislation dictate how far apart employees will sit, for instance?

Bye bye open-plan layouts

They have certainly served us well over several decades, but now open-plan layouts are viewed as complicit in the spread of Covid-19 and other future coronavirus strains. Designers and UK shopfitters are already recommending specific distancing between desks while the size of those desks too is about to change. ZHA’s Arjun Kaicker reckons there will be a reversal of the trend for smaller desks of recent years where desks will, in fact, get bigger in order to accommodate the new need for social distancing. And forget hot-desking – that’s gone forever now.

The ‘bigger desk’ solution will bring a sigh of relief to those nervous about feeling ‘boxed in’ with the return of the office cubicle. Although so prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s, it looks like it may be replaced by moveable panels between desks – and only intermittently and between departments rather than individual staff members.

Hello wider corridors and staircases

One of the big office casualties of the Covid-19 outbreak is undoubtedly ‘the lift.’ Not only does it encourage us not to exercise by walking up the stairs, but it’s too much of an enclosed space to risk. As a result, expect to see more stairs in office blocks – and wider corridors too as a nod to social distancing.

Hello increased signage

Larger offices, like supermarkets, where you can go in one direction only will, in some instances, be the only way social distancing can be maintained. So, expect to see plenty of arrows, tape and other visual instructions dotted around.

Of course, staggered working times will be another way of ensuring there aren’t too many bods in the office at the one time.

Hello fresh air

For too long now many offices have been similar to sealed boxes, where ventilation was via a small vent at the top of a window or worse, poor air conditioning. This will change post-coronavirus. Expect to find more opening windows to allow in fresh air and/or high-level indoor pollution filtration system technology.

Hello technology

Just as the smart phones could control ventilation, lighting etc in the UAE building at the start of this article, so too could our phones alert us if we’re standing too close to another individual at work. Or even outdoors in the street, in a restaurant etc.

Meanwhile, once the fear of this pandemic is over – when a vaccine has been produced – and people are able to confidently go back to office life, will they actually want to?

Working from home has shown millions of individuals what working without a commute can be like. And many don’t want to face it again – at least not five days a week.


What Will Restaurant Design Prove Like Post-Coronavirus?

We have been denied their comfort and thrill for so long but even when we are allowed to cross their thresholds once again, will our beloved restaurants and cafes be the same?

Coronavirus has prompted many UK shopfitters to re-look at restaurant layouts and processes. Here are some of the ways you may find changes in the not-too-distant future:

More screens

Screening is an inevitability in order to ensure social distancing. But that doesn’t mean the answer can’t be an upmarket part of your ongoing design. So, forget temporary Perspex shields and consider glass or other sustainable, long-term screening solutions.

Café culture

Proposals are being written up right now as you read this for restaurants and cafes to use roads outside their premises. Great during the summer months…

Separate areas for take-away

Many restaurants and cafes have survived during the pandemic by offering take-away meals. For many this will now be part of their business strategy. A redesign might incorporate a separate area in the restaurant specifically for take-away meals.

No more buffets

 A sure-fire way of ensuring a virus is spread from one individual to another, is to huddle together over a table of food. Then there is the fact everyone uses the same service spoon. Expect to see the end of restaurant buffets.

No more pick-up menus or cash payment

Digital menus on tables or found on your own smartphone and similarly, smartphone or contactless payment, reduces the need to leave fingerprints on physical materials. Restaurants which don’t have digital menus will probably use disposable versions.

And don’t expect to find condiments such as salt and pepper left on tables for different diners to pick up and use in turn. Dishes will be salted etc by the chef.

Sensor technology for doors

Bathroom and other doors will be opened via sensors or by means of a foot, rather than hand. Soap dispensers and taps will also be sensor-led (or expect to find a foot pedal to operate that sink) say UK shopfitters.

Reservations all the way

More than ever before reservations will become a necessity. This is the only way many restaurants and cafes will be able to respect social distancing rules ie by knowing precisely how many customers to expect in their dining room at any given time.

Even establishments who have eschewed the reservation system will now be forced to take it up post-coronavirus, if they want to remain in business. In fact, only restaurants with reservations have been given the green light by Boris Johnson to open up on July 4. Those restaurants who don’t – or won’t – have reservations are being put into the same post-Covid-19 sectors as pubs and cafes (who don’t have an opening date yet).

More sanitation in general

Expect many surfaces to be hard and to be sprayed regularly with a micro-bacterial solution. According to UK shopfitters that means tables, worktops, desks, partitions and walls. In order to accommodate this furniture will be plainer – although the décor on the walls may be more exciting to make up for it! Expect a noisier restaurant though – thanks to a lack of all soft furnishings.

Meanwhile, we are sure we don’t have to tell you, but right now is the perfect time to plan and execute a restaurant or office redesign. With staff and customers vacant from the premises, our SteamPunk craftsmen and designers can crack-on undisturbed with your refit. Neither is there any risk of spreading infection to staff or customers.

If you are interested in making the most of your empty premises by finally commissioning that refit then do get in touch with our UK shopfitters craftsmen here at SteamPunk Fit Out. Tel: 0800 197 2922 or contact us via email. We very much look forward to hearing from you!