We never used to think about the amount of space we had in an office before. Now, we’ll never think about it the same way again. As offices prepare to return to work, employees are looking for their own protected and divided workspaces. Solutions such as social distancing protective screens, creative and beautiful barriers, touchdown spaces to take a break from the added stress of hypervigilance in the new workplace, and new cubicle workstations are in order.
While some offices are simply resorting to plywood-and-plexiglass makeshift screens between desks or cheap and fast solutions that are flimsy, keep in mind that quality and style count. If you want to make it blatantly clear you’re doing the bare minimum in a post-COVID office, then do the bare minimum. But if you want to reduce employee turnover and set the tone for a morale boost, consider investing in smart and stylish protective screens that don’t obviously look and feel like protective screens but rather part of your office’s overall aesthetic.
Play a Part In Public Health Awareness With Your Office Design
The way your office is laid out and furnished for a post-COVID world will determine how your employees navigate within it. To raise awareness of public health and make sure the entire company is working together to keep everyone safe and healthy, take time to assess your current office layout, furniture and design. Should you have separate entrances and exits to avoid bottlenecks at the start and ends of each workday? Is there an opportunity to design one-direction foot traffic flows through the most common areas of the office? Are shared spaces such as kitchens, employee lounges and reception areas warm and inviting but thoughtful of social distancing? Your awareness of your commercial office space will reflect the level of awareness among employees and guests.
By installing social distancing protective screens in necessary places such as desks, reception, cubicles and workstations, huddle spaces and even indoor lounge tables, you offer people a visual cue to remain aware of their actions but also invite them to relax, knowing there is an effective barrier in place to protect them from sneezing, coughing and shared germ particles.
Personal Protective Equipment Goes Beyond The Face Mask
Health professionals recommend wearing a face covering and maintaining a social distance of six feet when two people (or more) are together in a room. It may not make sense for your staff to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) or face masks all day long. Depending on the types of interaction their job requires, they may need to remove masks for a portion of their day, including meetings, telephone calls, video conferencing, eating, drinking, or simply taking a break.
This is when you want to have social distancing protective screens in place.
For health safety, you can opt to invest in protective screens. Fortunately, there are a lot of stylish and flexible options!
There are 4 main types of protective screens:
- Freestanding Screens
- Fixed Surface End Screens
- Surface Side Divider Screens with Extensions
- Cubicle Dividers
Those may sound overwhelming and mysterious, but they are all simply variations on the same concept: a non-porous, protective barrier that’s easy to install and easy to sanitize.
Determine how many you need to replace or add onto your existing workstation layout, budget it out, place your order, install, and voila! Your cool, modern open office workstations for social distancing in the Post-COVID workplace are here.
Let’s break down the four common types of social distance protect screens for a minute…
Freestanding screens are simply that: these freestanding screens can be wheeled in or adjusted to create a barrier wherever you need it. You may want to divide a long table up by installing a few fixed surface screens and wheeling up some freestanding screens to create a quick divider for a communal workspace. See photo below for an example!
Fixed surface end screens can be attached or installed to the ends of tables or desks (see our first photo in this article) to enclose a previously-open space for more privacy. When considering enclosures, remember how light will shine through or be absorbed. Most acrylic screen components come in clear, frosted, light blue, orange, red, dark gray and gloss white marker board to meet your needs. Bleach-cleanable tackable fabrics are also available.
Freestanding Screens & Fixed Surface End Screens come in a variety of sizes:
- Height: 24”
- Depths: 24”W, 30”W, 36”W, 42”W, 48”W, 54”W, 60”W, 66”W, 72”W
Surface Side Divider Screens with Extensions help you customize your open office space with a bit more flexibility. See photo below.
- Height: 24”
- Depths: 39”W, 45”W, 51”W
Cubicle Dividers for curved workstations or other shapes are available to help you upfit an existing modern design with a state-of-the-art solution. Cubicle dividers can existing as extensions in the middle between cubicles or in other configurations as you need them.
Perform a Risk Assessment Of Your Office Layout
You simply have to look at what types of workstations and office areas you currently have, visualize which types of barriers you need, and make a list. (You can also contact our project experts at StrongProject to get a free consult, talk through which options are best for you and your budget, and get a free project estimate.)
For example, here’s a modern and stylish sit-stand desk. Not only does it provide a pop of color with a sleek design, it can be accompanied by easy-to-attach 24”H acrylic screens that will travel with the height adjustable desktops (for continuous shielding). Now you have the best of both world: uplifting colors and social distancing safety bundled into a sit-stand workstation design.
The acrylic screen components come in clear, frosted, light blue, orange, red, dark gray and gloss white marker board. Bleach-cleanable, tackable fabrics are also available. Additionally, the worksurfaces are available in solid colors as well as textured & rustic woodgrain laminates.
Reasonable Accommodations Can Be Affordable For Your Office
Social Distancing Protective Screens can be incorporated into your existing furniture for an efficient, cost-effective solution to help keep your employees safe. Most companies and workplaces right now do not have additional operations cashflow to invest in a completely new office or fully-furnished office, so many are opting for leasing post-COVID office furniture instead. This allows an immediate solution to be put in place without burning a hole in the current year budget.
Sometimes, an expert can point out exactly what you need and don’t need. Perhaps you don’t need a fully furnished office with all new furniture but instead a big order of additions such as protective screens and some innovative collaborative furniture pieces to create new touchdown spaces.
At StrongProject, we give you a free space plan for your open office and a budget estimate.