As businesses begin to cautiously reopen their physical office locations after the Coronavirus outbreak of 2020, we are asking ourselves if the popular trend in open office space will still apply to the current office culture. In the short term, the answer will be no. There will be a need for physical separation of 6 feet or more whether that be through a decreased in-person workforce, use of individual offices, or set up of cubical style workstations.
In the 60’s, office space cubicles were a popular choice in office design because it allowed for privacy while keeping the overall office open and somewhat collaborative. Now, the use of cubicles can be a solution to create physical barriers between employees while maximizing the open space of the office floor. This will help in maintaining the social distance recommendations made by the CDC once everyone returns to work.
The standard workspace per square foot per employee has been decreasing over the last couple of years with the introduction of open office spaces. The average space recommended per employee can reach as low as 100 to 150 square feet or lower in some industries. The re-introduction of cubicles not only offers a solution to the distractions of an open office concept, but also physical barriers between employees during this uncertain time.
Cubicles can be costly and with multiple businesses looking for the same solution we want to share with you easy options you may be able to do yourself:
- Wood Built Frames: This will take some skill in creating but can be done after a quick trip to the hardware store. Determining size and layout will help in production since multiple cubicles can be built together. This solution, although not permanent, does require a bigger time commitment for construction and takedown.
- Curtains: You maybe be able to create barriers using curtains much like a doctor’s office. Although this option does not help cut down noise, it does create a guard between employees who are in close proximity to each other.
- Plexiglass Shields: You may have seen these if you have recently visited a grocery store. These clear plexiglass barriers offer protection against airborne droplets. Many plastics companies offering this product have fabricated a design to attach to desks that your employees are already utilizing. Some can be costly but still offer a cheaper solution to standard cubicles.
Other than creating physical barriers to create a safer workplace after returning to work, you can also look at the layout of your current office space. If physical separation is not feasible, consider changing the layout to ensure all employees are able to maintain the 6-foot social distance recommendation. It’s also recommended for the short term to close common spaces like breakrooms and conference rooms.
It’s our hope that through taking some extra precautions now, we can return to a more “normal” operation in the near future. As far as the open office culture, it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue upward in popularity in the next few years or not. To get you into the proper amount of office space you need after returning to work,contact us to schedule a tour.