Why Use Tall Office Cubicles When Returning to the Office
Many businesses across different industries are changing because of COVID-19. If you’re welcoming employees back into your office, odds are you’re going to have to make some changes, too. Using high wall workstations helps keep employees safe from COVID-19 by physically separating people from each other when a 6-foot distance isn’t achievable. As a bonus, cubicles are productivity boosters, separating people from noisy or visual distractions.
Learn more about the benefits of using tall office cubicles when returning to work, as well as some signs that it’s time to upgrade your office space below.
Preventing COVID-19 in Your Office
The COVID-19 pandemic reimagined the workplace. Although there are new obstacles, businesses aren’t in it alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) are constantly updating businesses with accurate information on how to upgrade their workplace to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some of their recommendations include:
Wear face coverings, and send employees home with complimentary masks.
Ensure there is proper air ventilation by increasing the amount of fresh air in the office.
Use signs to educate employees on the safety measures they can take at work.
Following these guidelines, you’re likely going to make some changes to your current work environment. The safest way you can prevent the spread of COVID-19 is by creating more personal work areas, specifically via cubicles with tall walls.
Do Tall Cubicles Protect Against Coronavirus?
Cubicles with tall walls can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Taller cubicles are safer to use than alternative small wall cubicles. As the CDC and WHO recommend, workplaces should install screens to separate workstations. Modern cubicles allow you to easily install tall walls to help follow these guidelines. And some are adjustable, allowing employees to move walls or windows to accommodate both independent and team-based work.
When selecting a cubicle wall height to protect against COVID-19, you’ll have three general options to consider:
High panels: Tall cubicle walls can range from 70-inches to 82.5-inches tall. Around 6 feet high and taller, high panels are great options for independent work areas with little to no group collaboration. Employees have a private workspace, even when they or most of their neighbors stand up.
Medium panels: The most common wall height is medium panels. They’re a little under 5 feet tall. Employees have privacy while sitting — like while working on their computers — but can stand and communicate with the people next to them when relaying a quick message.
Low panels: Perfect for group collaboration, low panels set clear boundaries between work areas while allowing people to see and communicate with their neighbors even while sitting.
Taking into consideration that the coronavirus spreads through respiratory droplets, the best cubicles to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when returning to work are tall cubicles. Employees will have limited opportunities to spread COVID-19 when separated by high wall cubicles. If your employees work in a highly collaborative environment, opt for sliding panels or encourage them to meet in a socially distanced conference room.
Buying New Cubicles vs. Updating Existing Cubicles
A cubicle’s design makes it so people can comfortably work in their office environment without the distractions of their working neighbors or communal areas. They’re also meant to keep people safe from the coronavirus. As you prepare to welcome employees back into the office, think about upgrading your existing cubicles or buying new cubicles altogether. To help you decide whether to upgrade or buy, take this information into consideration:
Are Your Cubicles Meeting Your Needs?
Be honest — are your current cubicles really satisfying your employees’ needs and COVID-19 safety precautionary measures? If not, then what changes do you need to make for them to be practical in your workspace? Make a list of these changes, like:
Separating seating areas by 6 feet: Maintain a 6-foot distance by separating your seating areas.
Adding a partition between work areas: If you don’t have enough office space to separate your seating areas, make sure you supply a partition to prevent the spread of germs.
Supplying organization features for efficiency: Outside of COVID-19 safety precautions, allow your employees to work more efficiently by ensuring adequate organization features, such as filing boxes and overhead storage.
Utilizing flexible cubicle designs: Modern office cubicles allow employees to manipulate their work area to satisfy their changing needs. For example, sliding cubicle walls allow employees to work individually and with their team as needed.
The Pros and Cons of Upgrading Existing Cubicles
Assess your current cubicles. Can you easily make necessary upgrades at a reasonable cost? If so, you might consider updating your existing cubicles. Some of the pros and cons of upgrading what you already have are:
Pros: You don’t have to completely restructure your office. Rather, you take the outline you already have and upgrade smaller elements, like making your walls taller. All that’s needed is likely a day to make mass upgrades. And your employees won’t have to adjust to an entirely new workspace.
Cons: If you have to make upgrades, odds are your cubicles are out of date. By upgrading certain parts of your cubicles, others will look more outdated and need replacing eventually. Your employees and any clients who visit your office may not be impressed by the clashing new and old furnishings.
The Pros and Cons of Buying New Cubicles
If the costs of upgrading exceed the cost of buying a new cubicle system, your best option may be to buy new cubicles. Compared to upgrading your existing cubicles, some pros and cons of buying new cubicle systems are:
Pros: Having a new cubicle system is likely the upgrade you need. Your employees will benefit from increased productivity and a safer work environment. You can also revamp your office’s design to something more modern and inviting, rearranging the layout as needed.
Cons: Buying a new cubicle system can be more of an investment than upgrading existing cubicles. But it’s an investment with high returns, as your employees will feel safer and more productive at work, generating better company-wide results.
The Benefits of High Wall Office Cubicles and Workstations
Some of the benefits of cubicles with tall walls include:
1. Reduces the Spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets, produced when people talk, breathe, sing and cough, among other ways. Respiratory droplets linger in the air, spreading from person to person even hours after an infected employee leaves the office. The CDC recommends installing partitions between workspaces and regularly disinfecting your office space to control the spread of the coronavirus.
High wall cubicles create individualized spaces where employees can safely distance themselves from other people. These furnishings’ walls are tall enough that employees are protected even when standing, preventing any respiratory droplets from spreading throughout the office.
Many modern office cubicles are made of easy-to-clean fabric, metal, wood, plexiglass and other smooth surfaces. When disinfecting, use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved cleaner and disinfectant that will kill and remove the virus that causes COVID-19. Always follow the instructions on the label of your cleaner, and wear gloves and ventilation equipment while cleaning.
2. Maximizes Space
Office buildings have limited space. One of the overarching benefits of cubicles is their use of space because they’re uniform and compact. Although cubicles can fit all of your employees comfortably in a smaller area, cubicles with tall walls maintain their safety. Depending on how you customize your cubicle, each can have a desk area, overhead storage, filing cabinets and even wardrobes. Compare this to lock-and-door offices, which take up too much room, or open office spaces that encourage the spread of COVID-19.
3. Instills Equality
Cubicles ensure workplace equality. No one will feel like they have to battle for their safety — every employee will have equal access to a high wall cubicle that prevents the spread of COVID-19. People won’t have to compete to get the “best” office space because they already have it. And, when people aren’t constantly battling to get on top, they collaborate better and become more productive.
Although equal, employees still have the option to support their own identity by customizing and decorating their office space with personal items, memorabilia and so on.
4. Adds Flexibility
Modern cubicles are flexible, giving employees opportunities to control where and how they work. With flexible office furnishings, employees have the option of keeping their wall partitions up when working independently, then simply sliding or removing the partitions when collaborating with neighbors.
Flexibility is yet another reason to consider upgrading your office space with new and modern cubicles. They can be taken down, reconfigured and put back up in just hours. So, no matter what challenges and changes your office takes on, you can trust your modern cubicles to stay flexible to many designs.
5. Creates Privacy
Employees have the right to privacy. Tall wall office cubicles separate employees both visually and audibly, eliminating disruptions like loud phone calls, group discussions or movement. It also prevents people from listening in on conversations or accidentally viewing confidential information, especially important in industries like health care or when supervisors are having private conversations with other employees.
Some employees also rely on audible privacy, working better in a silent, disruption-free environment. Working disruption-free allows employees to focus better, working more deeply and effectively. It also restores cognitive resources, aiding in lowering feelings of being overwhelmed, preventing employee burnout.
6. Promotes Collaboration
With cubicles, everyone is in the same seating vicinity. People can easily reach one another, when necessary, to share ideas and work together on projects, and team leaders can easily access their employees.
In traditional lock-and-door office spaces, office doors separate people and make it harder to collaborate spontaneously. Entirely open floor plans have zero separation and can cause great distractions. Tall wall cubicles give you the best of both worlds because you aren’t hidden behind a door, but you aren’t constantly available. Employees have more control of their work environment and their safety.
7. Increases Productivity
Many of the benefits listed share a similar outcome — increased productivity. Consider the following benefits and how they can translate to increase productivity, and therefore revenue, for your business:
Reduces the spread of COVID-19: Being in a global pandemic reasonably makes people concerned for their safety. When employees feel unsafe, they’re unlikely to be thinking about ways they can stay productive at work. By supplying your employees with trustworthy partitions, they’ll feel safer and at ease, allowing them to focus on productivity.
Instills equality: Equality creates a level playing field that inspires healthy competition. People aren’t going to feel like they have to fight for a promotion. Rather, they’ll feel like they are going to earn one, making more people more encouraged to be more productive.
Adds flexibility: By giving employees the flexibility to choose how they work, they feel more responsible. This added responsibility empowers employees to do what they need to do to get their work done.
Creates privacy: When employees are working independently, their cubicle’s high walls separate them visually and audibly from distracting neighbors. And, when working in teams, employees can make reasonable accommodations to work more effectively with others. Both scenarios lead to higher productivity.
8. Offers an Economical Solution
Tall wall office cubicles are great investments for your office after COVID-19. You get many opportunities to save money, like not having to worry about making multiple short-term purchases for one-time-use clear dividers — you’ll always have the benefit of high walls. And you avoid making large investments in single-use noise cancellation equipment — the thick and tall walls do an adequate job at preventing noise transfer. Plus, with increased productivity, your business may see an increase in revenue, paying for your cubicle investment over time.
Arnold’s Office Furniture’s Options for Tall Office Cubicles
Arnold’s Office Furniture is the leading supplier of the revolutionary cubicle system, Sunline Sliding Cubicle Systems. The Sunline Sliding Cubicle System is a completely customizable and adjustable system that works with almost every office space. What makes this system so revolutionary is its slide-in-place design ― every wall, filing cabinet and accessory slides right into place. You can assemble, disassemble and reconfigure our designs within hours.
We offer many customizations, including cubicle wall height. Our high wall cubicles go up to 82.5-inches tall, giving you and your employees visual and auditory privacy for maximum productivity.
Rob has more than 25 years of experience in the office furniture business. He has used his extensive knowledge in his role as Senior Vice President to ensure our office furniture meets the needs of the modern corporate office environment and he regularly lends his expertise to various articles posted on the Arnold’s Office Furniture blog. Learn more about Rob!