The global outbreak of COVID-19 has had a major impact on a number of industries. Some businesses were forced to shut down for months, while others had to implement social distancing policies and other restrictions in a relatively short period of time. Even the construction industry felt the impact of COVID-related regulations and policies, with many areas seeing a significant downtick in non-essential construction projects and repairs.
This doesn’t mean that COVID has doomed the construction industry, however. There have actually been some new opportunities emerging for contractors during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it remains to be seen how much of a long-term impact the various COVID-related policy changes will have, some of these new opportunities may become even more common as businesses and homeowners look to prepare for future outbreaks now.
Plexiglass Barrier Installation
One big opportunity for contractors comes in creating plexiglass barriers for cash registers, drive-thru windows, and a variety of other public-facing locations. This can range from simply cutting the plexiglass and providing mounting materials to building full deployable barrier solutions complete with installation. Even with the lockdowns ending and most areas opening back up, storefronts and even office areas are still looking for solutions such as these to keep both employees and customers safe.
Social Distancing Remodels
Along with plexiglass barriers, some stores may be looking into small remodels designed to improve customer flow while making social distancing possible. These are typically smaller remodels of busy areas to reduce crowding and in some cases, provide visual indicators of appropriate social distances when in the store. In addition to spacing out items like checkouts, tables and display stands, some of these remodels may introduce dedicated sanitation stations or remove items that would force customers to have to crowd close together.
Some materials just aren’t easy to sanitize. This makes frequent cleaning with the intention of providing sanitary surfaces for customers and employees difficult if not impossible. To deal with this, some businesses may wish to upgrade countertops, wall surfaces, or other hard-to-sanitize items with alternatives that are much easier to keep clean. Even damaged surfaces may be replaced since those damaged areas are often notoriously hard to keep clean.
Into the Outdoors
It can be difficult to maintain social distancing in indoor areas because there’s only so much available floor space. To make up for this, some businesses may wish to expand into the outdoors or offer options such as drive-thru or curbside pickup that they didn’t previously have options for. There are options for both small additions and significant renovations to help get customers out of the store and into the more open air.
Impacts on Future Projects
These ideas are just some of the ways that COVID-19 might present opportunities for contractors in the relatively short term. Keep in mind that some of these items could be required into the future as well, and concerns about social distancing and how best to accommodate it may influence future construction as well. Even if the short-term opportunities are limited in your area, the lessons learned from COVID and how it’s been handled will almost certainly have a lasting impact on how future construction projects are planned.
Have you seen an increase in projects related to facilitating social distancing in your area? What were they?