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#TogetherAsOne Spotlight: Guide Lines Allows Businesses to Safely Operate Throughout COVID-19

As many businesses consider reopening, they are faced with the very real problem that their facilities were never physically designed to facilitate social distancing guidelines. Customers want to support their local establishments, but they also want to shop in a safe manner. Enter - Guide Lines: Floor Markings for Social Distancing. That’s why Buck Sleeper, Director, Innovation Consulting, EPAM Continuum, Megan Welker, Senior Innovation Consultant, EPAM Continuum and Alexis Victor, Innovation Consultant, EPAM Continuum created Guide Lines: Floor Markings for Social Distancing.

The toolkit gives business owners and operators simple tips for creating visual cues to direct foot traffic with readily available tools and materials. Using just paper, scissors, a pen and tape, businesses can ensure that everyone who enters their physical space—from vendors to employees to customers—adheres to social distancing protocols and stay as safe and healthy as possible. 

“We all want to do the right thing, but our spaces were never originally designed to adhere to social distancing protocols,” Buck said. “So, we wondered how we could help create a clear and consistent system that guides consumers and employees alike while still staying six feet apart.”

Taking inspiration from their colleagues at EPAM Continuum, who created the GENTL mask, Buck and Megan wanted to create something that was easy to build and even easier to distribute to businesses in need—quickly.

“We realized that this new way of operating was going to be a marathon—not a sprint,” said Buck of how the idea for Guide Lines originated. “Our biggest goal was—and still is—to be a radically good partner during these troubling times. The best way for us to do that was to create something that people could implement easily and quickly but still had longevity.”

Using the Guide Lines: Floor Markings for Social Distancing toolkit, business owners can have something that does just that.

How it Works

Using the guide for reference, business operators can sketch out the layout of their space. As they work on this exercise, business owners should reflect on several questions like:

  • What color tape will stand out and catch people’s attention as they move through the space?
  • What color tape will reinforce my brand’s visual identity or complement the aesthetic of the space?
  • What type of flooring do I have, and how long should the tape stick to it?
  • Where do people naturally walk or stand vs. where should people safely walk or stand?
  • When is foot traffic bi-directional?
  • What new behaviors need to be encouraged?
  • What symbols best communicate the intended flow?
  • What size symbol is easily ‘read’ by my customers?
  • Would color-coding be beneficial? (ex. if certain areas are for customers versus staff, they could be marked in blue while areas for staff could be marked in red)

Once all questions have been analyzed and owners have a human-centered design in hand, it’s time to start taping.

Don’t know what tape to use? Check out the helpful table that matches your floor type with the type of tape that works best for your needs.

Once users have the appropriate tape and a pair of scissors, it’s time to start marking the space. Operators are encouraged to test out the markings with a colleague to make sure there is appropriate distance and the markings flow in a logical way. If there are concerns about effectiveness once more customers and employees start entering the store, the floor plan can be revised as necessary, thanks to the impermanence of tape.  

Use Cases

No matter what the physical space, the toolkit can help anyone who enters a business stay safe. Below are some examples of the ways businesses can put Guide Lines into practice.

Arguably, the most obvious—and necessary—businesses that could use Guide Lines are grocery stores. By implementing several visual cues, grocery store operators can ensure foot traffic through aisles is one-way, customers are appropriately spaced out while waiting in line, and employees and customers stay a safe distance from one another during the checkout process.

Even during our uncertain times, people still need cash for a multitude of reasons. To access it safely may be difficult, but ATM operators can make it a little easier for customers by adding floor markings that indicate where customers can wait in line and where to stand while using the machine.

Now more than ever it’s critical that healthcare facilities keep their patients and staff safe. With some duct tape and scissors in hand, operators can mark areas that should be designated only for staff, where patients should wait in line to check-in and even where furniture should be placed so that it is six feet away from other pieces of furniture.

“While this may be simple, it’s certainly not easy. Business owners are charged with helping their employees and customers change ingrained behavior patterns overnight,” said Megan. “We hope that with Guide Lines, we can make this task easier on them, so they can spend their time focusing on running a great business.”

Interested in implementing Guide Lines: Floor Markings for Social Distancing for your business? Access the complete toolkit here