With a return to the workplace on the cards in a post-pandemic world, how may partitioning systems remain as part of the new normal? Simon Boocock, Managing Director of CR Laurence, takes a look.
It’s been a long 18 months or so since many of us were in the office all at the same time. While the world takes a cautious approach to opening up and staff being to return to their workplaces, there are likely to be many social distancing and safety precautions that remain post-Covid.
In the UK, most restrictions that were put in place to fight previous waves of the infection have now been lifted, and while it may have been dubbed ‘Freedom Day’, for many employers it simply meant more of the same, with the importance firmly on keeping colleagues, visitors and members of the public as safe as possible.
When partitioning systems first started to be used in offices, shops and other public places in the spring of 2020 it was quite a grounding sight to see and really brought home just how serious things were. Fast forward to now and such partitions are really quite common place, people are very used to them and are given some peace of mind by their presence. So as the work from home guidance ends and offices welcome people back inside in a greater number, such precautions are likely to be here to stay, at least for now.
This is particularly the case in open-plan office environments. Such spaces have been increasingly the norm for a while now as they are deemed to stimulate an employee’s sense of wellbeing, encourage interaction and have been proven to positively impact productivity. Encouraging staff to return to such spaces and giving them the confidence to do so means putting some pretty speedy solutions in place. Solutions that still enable them to interact with colleagues, enable the natural flow of light and that don’t compromise on any of the benefits of open-plan offices. The same is true of public facing businesses such as hairdressers, bars and restaurants too. In fact, any public facing venue is being faced with the same challenge, with hygiene and safety an undeniable priority.
The answer for many businesses has been to install glass or clear plastic partitioning. This way, visibility was not compromised but the spread of germs could be halted. Putting such systems in place quickly was one challenge, but with the pandemic an ongoing issue and rules and regulations, not to mention consumer confidence being a changeable beast, a degree of flexibility is also important.
For desktop settings for example, portable partition screening offers a great deal of flexibility, making a desk or countertop barrier with no need for screwing into furniture. Additional screens can also be added to increase the width of the barrier and all such solutions removed the headache of installation.
Partition posts for glass screens ensure that such solutions can be added without negatively impacting on the aesthetics of the surroundings. These allow for discreet, elegant, secure, safe screens to be fitted to existing areas that require partitions sympathetically with the surroundings, be it office desks, reception areas, dining spaces and serveries.
Once in place such partitioning systems offer a practical and effective barrier against coughing, sneezing and the general spread of germs. This is, of course, supremely important during a global pandemic, but there is much to be said for the existence of such systems in a post-pandemic world too. Research is ongoing into the effect of distancing measures such as mask wearing in public places and increased hand washing in the reduction in the spread of all germs, not just Coronavirus, with statistics already suggesting that the ‘normal’ cold and flu season in Covid-hit countries has been reduced as a result. With the winter flu season just around the corner, such partitions may just help businesses avoid lots of staff absences through avoidable illness and help to keep everyone that little bit safer.
The same argument can then be made for glass partitioning systems in offices and public-facing environments, such as bars and shops. A glass or clear plastic screening system that acts as a protective barrier against the spread of germs, while not in any way negatively impacting the aesthetics or acoustics of the environments surely has longevity. Whatever the future holds for the pandemic, it could well be that such partitioning system are very much a part of our ‘new normal’.