Office partition panels: this is why they are a winning solution
● Companies around the world are adopting solutions to reopen offices in respect of personal safety and health measures.
● Among the immediate solutions, the most effective one is proving to be the installation of office partition panels around the workstations.
● Panels must be carefully selected to assure both health safety and quality of work environments (in the long term).
● The pandemic has brought greater awareness on health and biological risk issues that will not disappear in the post-COVID world.
The advantages of working in the office
In recent weeks, companies and workers around the world have had to adapt quickly to the remote working imposed by COVID-19. Many have grasped the positive aspects, on a personal level, such as the reduction of travel times or the feeling of greater control over their time.
But the lockdown also brought to light the critical issues of the “remote office”. An analysis by McKinsey found confusion, isolation, communication problems, planning and coordination. According to the strategic consultancy multinational, productivity at the company level decreases rapidly if not properly managed.
That’s why organizations around the world are studying how to bring workers back to their office. The challenge – according to the World Economic Forum – lies in how to adapt the workplace. And the number one priority for all companies today is to ensure the safety and well-being of people.
The problem of distancing
Amongst the problems related to returning to the office, with which companies are confronting, the most pressing one is undoubtedly that of social distancing. A truth about open space – writes the Fast Company business magazine – is that over time it has become less and less “open” as it is increasingly crowded.
To reopen the offices, guaranteeing the safety of people and compliance with local regulations regarding distance, companies have adopted different strategies. For example, they only brought part of the employees back to work; or they made new offices in different spaces. For example: canteens, meeting rooms, or relax areas.
These choices to reduce worker density can be considered initial responses. However, their long-term sustainability is problematic. More and more international companies are therefore moving towards a different solution. That of the installation of office dividing panels between the workstations.
The advantage of office partition panels
The use of screen panels to separate workstation desks from each other is a worldwide trend. So much so that Wired USA recently published a post entitled “Cubicle is back”. The image is not the most comforting: the return to an idea of work enclosed between opaque walls is in fact very far from our current standards.
However, the utility of screen barriers in contrasting COVID-19 is recognized internationally. The European Agency for Safety at Work, for example, suggests them if the recommended distances cannot be maintained. The U.S. Department of Labor includes them in its guidelines for the most effective prevention measures; and benefit from tax credit
How to choose partition panels
To safeguard the safety of people on the one hand and the quality of the work spaces on the other, the choice of office partition panels is very important. Among the most significant features to be evaluated are undoubtedly:
- the level of protection offered,
- maintaining the visual relationship,
- the durability and hygiene of the materials,
- the design and aesthetic quality,
- flexibility and simplicity of installation,
- environmental impact.
These are the principles that guided us in the design of Estel Caring panel system. Its main characteristics are:
- dimensions designed to create a continuous physical barrier around the station;
- the choice of glass to guarantee light and durability over time of transparent surfaces;
- easily sanitized materials with greater fire resistance than plastic alternatives;
- sustainability, as all components are completely and easily recyclable.
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A choice that lasts over time.
There is also another reason that pushes us towards a greater attention in the choice of office partition panels. The fact that the solutions for the containment of the contagion must not be considered a short-term solution.
Research by Gensler, a global design and architecture company, points out that Coronavirus has raised everyone’s awareness of personal health and well-being. In the post-COVID world, companies will have to take this into account, to attract talents.
The good news is that smart design cannot only improve people’s health, but also mental functions, perspectives, mood. So yes: we will go back to the office, and we’ll be back to collaborate even better than we do today.