As people return to the workplace, the new motto is safety first. Physical distancing and space division is non-negotiable. Whether you are dealing with a few or many employees, there are ways to de-densify your environment and adapt your furniture to maximize safety and support a new way of working in what we call “office 2.0”.
We have looked into optimal ways to reduce human to human interaction and the risk of infection, and we have identified what we at Alan Desk consider some of the most effective and ingenious solutions such as: freestanding walls; shields and extended privacy panels; phone booths; healthcare stations; and performance textiles.
Go ahead and gear up for the COVID-19 challenge with the right products to furnish and reshape the office of the future!
Freestanding Walls: Divide Space to Shelter in Place
One way to create physical distance between desks and people is via freestanding walls you can place wherever you need to create privacy in a small office space, or deﬁne secure new areas in a large, open floor plan. The beauty of freestanding walls is their mobility and impermanence. You simply move them to where they make sense. Because they are made of one or multiple materials, they can be transparent or solid to suit your design style and personal preference.
Split by Loftwall
Loftwall, which is located in Dallas, TX, has created a whole new “Back To The Office” collection with staff-safety proofing options. Split, a mobile wall in clear or frosted acrylic, allows you to separate people without sacrificing natural lighting. They assemble in less than 10 minutes, feature an aluminum interlocking frame and are cleanable with healthcare-grade cleaners.
Framewall by Loftwall
Framewall are stylish room divider walls that offer both acoustical and visual privacy. They are ideal for open floor plans to divide and enclose freestanding workstations. While single Framewalls can be ordered, multiple Framewalls can be linked together to further create space. Whether you’re interested in 90° links or 180° links, Framewall is up for the challenge. Each panel could be different to enhance visual appeal and have its own purpose. Available materials include: Laminate, Dry-Erase Laminate, Blox, Felt, Akustik, Translucent, and speciality finishes and fabrics.
Portable Room Dividers by Peter Pepper
Peter Pepper, located in Compton, CA, creates Portable Room Dividers that look clean, sleek and minimalist, providing an easy way to ensure privacy and separation pretty much anywhere in the workplace.
Linking Panels by Global
Global, with headquarters in Marlton, NJ, offers Linking Panels that allow you to configure a nearly enclosed private space that works great for healthcare and acute care situations but also the general workforce. Their laminate panels are easy to connect, reconfigure and sanitize.
RoverBoards by Fulbright & Co.
Fulbright & Co. from Spring, TX, offers fantastic state-of-the-art mobile glass boards that are designed to move freely and effortlessly with you. Called RoverBoards, these glass wall units come in standard and custom colors.
Shields and Extended Privacy Panels: Staff is Stylishly Protected
Then there are personal barriers such as shields, screens and panels in many sizes and styles that can help create safer work environments by reducing interaction and the risk of infection. These include options you can quickly mount on office desks, cubicles, reception areas and point of sale locations; freestanding panels you can place to reconfigure your space; as well as hanging panels that allow you to separate people in style.
Desk and Counter Shields by Loftwall
Loftwall’s Desk Shield provides a transparent refuge from germs and distractions. Available in clear and frosted acrylics, it’s cleanable with healthcare-grade cleaners, assembles in less than 5 minus and allows for units to be linked together.
They also make an acrylic Counter Shield sneeze guard that can handle harsh cleaners and is great for stations such as counters that deal with customers.
Screens by AIS
AIS, based in Leominster, MA, also offers an impressive range of visually attractive screens that ensure social distance through better space division. You can choose from fabric (including antimicrobial), glass, vinyl, Lexan polycarbonate, PET (coming soon), laminate and whiteboard.
Ariel Panels by Nevins
Nevins, located in Cat Spring, TX, makes an attractive solution for separating people with their gorgeously crafted Acoustic Hanging Panels. Originally intended to create space while improving acoustics, these striking suspended screens come in 11 unique patterns and several compositions: single pattern panel, pattern panel with backer panel, and double layer pattern panel with center plain panel.
Privacy Panels and Reception Counter Screens by Obex
Obex, located in Vista, CA, excelled with its extended privacy panels for workstations. Their Free Standing Desk Mounted Privacy Panels in clear or frosted acrylic can sit on top of desks, tables and cubicles without the need for mounting or brackets. They also make clear, free-standing Reception Counter Screens that provide safer human to human interaction and are easily installed and dismantled.
Wellness Screens by Global
Global offers protective barriers in clear acrylic called Wellness Screens. They are designed to be used anywhere from open floor plan offices to reception areas and point of sale spaces. You can easily mount them onto existing furniture to help prevent the spread of germs.
Paravan Panels by Arper
Arper, which hails from Italy but has a subsidiary in New York, NY, boasts a selection of really stylish panels for dividing the office, lounge areas or break-out areas. These Paravan Panels feature a sophisticated sculptural and architectural look that creates intimacy in open spaces without looking too “clinical.” You can choose from rectangular options or go for a curved profile and even a curved panel.
Phone Booths: Enjoy the Security Offered by a Private Pod
Remember old school phone booths? Especially the famous red boxes in London that are still to this day an iconic British design icon? Well, they are back, with a whole new function and sophisticated looks that are retro and futuristic at once. Literally called phone booths, these pods were originally designed to create soundproof privacy, especially for busy and often loud open floor plans.
They allow people to make phone calls undisturbed or meet in more discrete ways, safely stowed away from the rest of the staff. Now they’re being put to brilliant new use to separate people in the workplace to prevent the transmission of disease.
Phone Booth by Nevins
Nevins’ take on these phone booths is extremely stylish and elegant while providing ultimate privacy. They really look stunning and we could see ourselves sequestered in one for quite a while to work solo. You can customize the phone booth of your dreams for your collaborative office space, but it comes at a price — and of course, it requires ample room.
Phone Booth by Loop
Loop, located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada does a version of the phone booth that is equally attractive, compact, soundproof and also highly customizable. Their Loop Solo fits just one person while the larger Loop Cube allows space for up to four people. They are great options for open work environments, come in a wide number of finishes, and are fully customizable.
Consultation Booth by Global
Global has created a consultation booth geared more towards public-facing needs. It’s ideal for protecting front line personnel in reception, retail, customer service and healthcare situations, but it can certainly work in an office if space allows.
Healthcare Stations: Sanitizing Supplies in One Compact Place
Healthcare stations are no longer reserved for high traffic areas in hospitals and public buildings. With increased demand for infection control and hand hygiene products wherever we go, they present a compact and convenient way to offer an assortment of personal protection equipment that works just as well in offices, lobbies and waiting areas.
Consider investing in this option for minimizing the risk of spreading infectious bacteria and viruses in the workplace. You can place these stations at ports of entry and anywhere hygiene products are needed to encourage their use by everyone in the office, from staff to clients. Consider the free-standing options or the wall-mounted versions and mobile dispensers from Peter Pepper.
ICF-3 Infection Control-Hygiene Station by Peter Pepper
Peter Pepper’s freestanding HealthFIRST Infection Control – Hygiene Station ICF-3 doesn’t take up a lot of space. It’s a convenient, small steel box that holds a bottle of hand sanitizer, gloves and tissues. The compartment is available in an abundance of steel colors; or you can upgrade to stainless steel.
ICF-2TX Infection Control-Hygiene Station by Peter Pepper
If your office has room for a larger footprint, Peter Pepper also offers more comprehensive hygiene station units that incorporate features such as a trash can, drip tray, a top-opening acrylic poster holder for important health-message signage, and basically just more space for two boxes of masks and three boxes of tissues.
Performance Textiles: Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Microbial, Bleach Solution Cleanable
Another solution for creating a healthier workplace that minimizes the spread of disease means rethinking the fabrics for your task chairs and cubicles and replacing them with so-called performance textiles. These materials can take the abuse of repeat cleanings with bleach solution and disinfectants while providing lasting beauty, thanks to being abrasion resistant.
They are antimicrobial, stain-resistant, moisture-resistant and odor-resistant. These features might evoke the sterile look of hospital furniture but that’s not the case. You don’t have to sacrifice cleanability for style. Performance fabrics come in a wide variety of colors, styles and patterns that won’t mar your carefully curated office design. We really like the performance textiles from brands such as Global, Stinson, Ultra Fabrics, Crypton, Nanotex, Momentum and Maharam.
Ensuring physical distancing and safety in the office to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is a challenging task none of us have ever faced before. How do you quickly and effectively change office spaces and the way people work within them? There are so many aspects to consider, from creating and reconfiguring space with panels and mobile walls to shielding counters and desks with screens and sneeze guards.
Luckily, there are great new products and accessories available, but deciding which are most appropriate for your needs is a daunting task. Consider enlisting our new Consultation Service for Optimizing Safety in Your Workplace and let us advise you on how and where to start and what makes most sense for your workplace and budget.
Check back again often on this post, since we will be adding more great products and accessories as we come across and evaluate them!