How businesses can apply physical distancing in design

Published Jun 13, 2020


DURBAN - Landlords and business owners are facing new uncertainties every day due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Chief among these anxieties is how they are required to adapt interiors and buildings to comply with new international regulations.

Dr Maria Neira of the World Health Organisation (WHO) says the wealth of business depends on the health of workers.

“An ethos of responsibility needs to be cultivated and landlords must proactively assist tenants to mitigate situations that could place them in harm’s way,” she said.

According to Raghmah Solomon, chief executive at Vortex Design Solutions, business owners and landlords can expect a change in the following areas:

Shared Public Spaces:

As some businesses require visitors to queue, landlords could assist by working together with tenants by allocating queuing space in common areas.

Waiting areas should be redesigned to comply with the minimum 1.5m distancing and the fabrics of all public furniture should be bleach friendly and able to withstand repetitive cleaning.

The necessary physical distancing signage, such as informational posters, floor decals and limits for the number of people allowed in a lift at one time, should be visible and repeated throughout the space.


Kitchens should have restricted access. Implementing alternating lunch and tea shifts will aid in ensuring the capacity of the kitchen area is always monitored.

Providing employees with a set of cutlery or lunch wear with their name on it mitigates the risk of spread from people using shared cutlery.

Deliveries should be handled by dedicated staff who can monitor parcel collection and distribution inside the office area, and personal deliveries should be prohibited from being opened inside the office.

For industries that cannot function without office-bound staff, moving desks to the perimeter of the office into screened cubicle layouts. Moving desks closer to windows for better ventilation also lowers the risk of continuously contaminating the space with airborne particles.

“Applying physical distancing in design means that business owners should consider changing their interior spaces as a permanent precautionary measure. Ultimately one needs to eliminate all the risks which may spread the virus,” said Solomon

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