We’re living in interesting times. COVID-19 has turned the world on its ear, and many of the things we’ve become accustomed to, such as working in an office, are a luxury we can’t afford while trying to keep employees safe and healthy. As a result, office furniture trends are shifting dramatically.
In recent years, the open floor plan has become one of the top office design trends, but studies have found that they lead to a 62% increase in sick days. While no one likes the idea of being enclosed, germs spread easily in open offices. Sneezes alone can travel up to 27 feet at 100 mph. The large droplets, which are the ones that carry the germs, tend to fall to the ground within 6 feet, but each sneeze can send up 100,000 contagious droplets into the air.
Right now, we don’t know how long the coronavirus survives on surfaces. It could persist for as little as a few hours or as long as several days, making it easier to spread the disease. Until we have more information, office design post COVID-19 will need to adapt in a way that will keep workers safe, even if it means forgoing office design trends. Read on to learn about the future of office furniture.
The COVID-19 effect on office design will be significant. As much as we love open office design trends, they may become a thing of the past in favor of something new — or, rather, something old. Cubicles come in a variety of sizes, from 6′ x 6′ to 8′ x 8′, as well as custom styles depending on your needs. They allow for safe social distancing and, with partitions up to 83 inches high, help curb the spread of airborne viruses.
The future of office furniture will look into new ways to achieve separation. If you don’t have the room to set up cubicles or the money to invest in entirely new office furniture trends, consider installing panels instead. The COVID-19 effect on office design means adequate space is a must. Luckily, these elements allow you to repurpose existing workstations — you can attach the panels to furniture you already have — while keeping your team at a safe distance from one another.
Other office furniture trends include dividers and screens that come in sizes up to 24 inches and attach to existing elements. This setup allows you to use your current workstations and create collaborative space while protecting team members from potentially contagious droplets. The COVID-19 effect on office design focuses on creating a safe environment for those that must work together. Even without the threat of contagion, these dividers are ideal for maximizing privacy in collaborative spaces.
Additional Safety Measures
Office design post COVID-19 goes beyond the right type of furniture. Consider spraying all of your panels and dividers with an antimicrobial treatment like Microban that keeps bacteria, viruses, fungi and mold from taking hold where they could cause illness. Reapplying this treatment every three months can ensure you have year-round protection.
For other office furniture, stick to nonporous surfaces, removing any soft or cushy fabrics — including furniture — that you can’t easily sanitize. Employees should also have plenty of cleaning supplies to keep them from spreading germs they might bring in with them.
Make sure you’re utilizing work-from-home and virtual meetings as often as possible, too. You can’t spread germs if you’re not in the same building, after all. If a virus makes the rounds in your office, consider having it professionally cleaned before you return.
Stay Safe and Healthy at Work
Unfortunately, the future of office furniture won’t follow the trend of open floor plans. Instead, office design post COVID-19 will see the return of the cubicle and other privacy-inducing measures, including panels and dividers. If you’re looking to upgrade your work environment to keep employees safe and healthy, contact Arnold’s Office Furniture for a free consultation.
Alissa has over 25 years of experience in the office furniture industry. For many of those years, Alissa was a Senior Interior Designer. She then took her love of design and working with customers to the sales realm and has been dedicating her knowledge there ever since. Learn more about Alissa!