Cecil Nurse: Are Cubicles Making A Comeback
The Coronavirus outbreak has triggered a trial run for remote work on a large scale and businesses around the world are starting to consider how the new normal will impact company culture, how to keep attracting best talent, and how to inspire creativity while keeping the team productive. Economic efficiency with high productivity considerations have become important thoughts as we navigate our way through the office of the future, which manifests itself today.
Work from home will see some new adoption as companies realise that it doesn’t mean the end of productivity, however the majority of workers will choose to get back into the office to maintain a healthier work-life separation.
Office configurations must change to adapt to the new health and safety environments.
Reopening the economy will be a slow process, as companies slowly introduce their employees back into office spaces over time. Businesses will also consider implementing different rotation schedules while focusing more on the safety of their workspaces. Cleaning requirements to sanitise office furniture surfaces and common areas after every use will become standard.
Social distancing among workstations are also essential, and measures need to be taken to not overcrowd offices by rearranging or updating office furniture requirements. Over complicated operational processes should be reassessed by pausing non-essential services such as snacks and events, which often involved too many vendors.
So, what will office look like after Covid-19?
The modern corporate office, particularly at tech companies, is renowned for open, collaborative workspaces, in-house coffee bars and standing desks with room for two giant computer monitors. Soon, there will be a new must-have perk: the sneeze guard.
These Plexiglas barriers – currently being manufactured by the Cecil Nurse manufacturing facility in Cape Town – can be mounted on a desk and is one of many ideas being considered by employers as they contemplate a return to the workplace after coronavirus lockdowns.
Some post-pandemic makeovers may even include hand sanitisers built into desks that are positioned at 90 degree angles or that are enclosed by translucent plastic partitions; air filters that push air down and not up; outdoor gathering space to allow collaboration without viral transmission; and windows that actually open, for freer air flow.
A conversation about how to reconfigure the office is taking place throughout the business world, from small start-ups to giant corporations.
However, there is no one size fits all solution in this regard and research also shows that one of the best ways to prevent transmission has nothing to do with furniture or layout even though protective measures and distancing does help; slowing the spread comes from letting potentially sick workers stay home with pay so they don’t feel pressure to come into work. Keeping contagious people at home can reduce transmission numbers by as much as a third.
Another basic step to lower risk is having fewer people in a space at any given time. That is a concept that runs counter to the workplace trend of the past two decades. For now, however, that may mean no more shared desks, elbow-to-elbow seating or cafes where people congregate to chat about a project over a coffee or a snack. It’s less about fun and more about safety.
Some companies have begun mentioning a return to one of history’s more derided office-design concepts: the cubicle. There is talk also of the cubicle’s see-through cousin, known as the sneeze guard.
Cough and sneeze protection screens – manufactured by Cecil Nurse under the name STAY SAFE Office Screens – decrease person-to-person contact, enforce social distancing and come in a number of options to fit your current furniture, your personal style and health requirements. These guards already have a home in banks, pharmacies, and supermarkets, but they are getting a new push into the corporate office space.
- Furniture: Office