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Inside the Rise of a Hot New Industry: Social Distancing Consultants

Marker Medium: “…As shelter-in-place laws start to relax across the U.S., and businesses begin to reopen—or at least to start thinking about it—everyone from retailers, restaurants, hairdressers, fashion boutiques, and building managers are desperate to overhaul their spaces with new safety protocols so they can protect employees and customers —and start making money again. The problem? No one really knows what they are doing. Federal guidelines cover the basics of hand-washing, sanitizing, and mask-wearing, but they lack specificity for different scenarios. For example, if you install a plexiglass screen, how large should it be? What’s the best way to redesign an office floor plan to limit interactions? Should employee temperatures be taken every shift? What about customer temperatures? Amid this uncertainty, a new cottage industry comprised of opportunists and pivoters has sprung up to fill the void: the social distancing consultant. From architects and designers to maintenance and marketing companies, these firms have recast themselves virtually overnight as experts in the new, high-demand art of keeping people six feet apart. Social distancing services have become a boon to the struggling architecture industry, as other projects have been put on hold…”

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