It seems we might all be heading back into the workplace this summer, but will work life be as we remember it? After such a transformative year, it sometimes feels unlikely that anything can be the same, especially for those required to be working in close proximity. So what can businesses do to provide safe, stylish, collaborative COVID-friendly office spaces?
The answer might just be furniture.
Today we’ve been picking the brains of our extremely knowledgeable Furniture Estimator, Danielle Barton. She knows a thing or two about office furniture and always finds the best products for the job, no matter what the project requires.
Danielle’s job is to stay on top of the latest brands, trends and products on the market and she always knows the right places to look. We’ve been discussing the products and furniture that she’s seeing become increasingly popular as various industries head back to the workplace in this post-pandemic world.
We’ve got something for every budget, from whole new workplace redesigns to minor Covid-friendly office adjustments; Danielle has given us her top pics of the products that will make the reintroduction to office life a little bit smoother, safer and a good deal more stylish!
Over to you, Danielle…
Dividing an area has the ability to create distance or add a temporary wall between people without having to commit to an entirely new desk arrangement or find room for bulky new furniture.
These frames from Steelcase can act as a divider or even create a room within a room, making them multi-functional. You can use them as open shelving or closed storage space with lockers, adding coat rails or even whiteboards to encourage collaboration.
If you can’t make up your mind how they might be best used, they can easily be adapted and reconfigured at a later date, for example by adding some of
So we were hoping we might be able to lend on your expertise and connections and ask a favour.
these items in if you suddenly decide you do need lockers or another whiteboard. Cool, hey?
These funky screens, also by Steelcase, can be easily linked together. They have magnetic edges for creating instant, adjustable boundaries at different widths and heights, and are lightweight so they can be conveniently moved to divide spaces as, when and where they might be needed.
This is an easy way to add a little privacy or create a non-permanent Covid-safe barrier between members of the team.
These attractive planters give another option for zoning or implementing distancing while allowing you to bring the outside in and improve general staff wellbeing in an eco-friendly way. They can be static or on casters, in case you might require the ability to simply wheel them around to different parts of the office, breaking up spaces as needed.
They even have an option for a self-watering system that intelligently manages water delivery to your plants over a 12 week period via a water reservoir supply, so no one has to be responsible for keeping the plants alive if you go for real leaves over faux greenery!
These huge, chunky free-standing whiteboards are great for collaboration areas as they offer a large space for writing on, but the fact that they’re double-sided means they’re great for dividing rooms too. They’re also conveniently placed on casters, allowing easy mobility to quickly divide up space absolutely anywhere you want.
The Mobile Workstations:
These screened desks on wheels are perfect for those who want to feel safe from Covid at their desk, or who just need a quieter, more private place to work. The attached screens are high and offer full seclusion on three sides. They also come as a range of matching mobile tables and whiteboards, aiming to provide a variety of different types of flexible working areas in your office.
I’d usually suggest these kinds of solutions for those members of staff who can’t work at home and do need to come into the office, but perhaps don’t want the distractions of colleagues and clients constantly buzzing around them.
With this range there’s modular matching storage too, used to divide your office with a bespoke mix of cupboards, lockers, open spaces, media units or whiteboards. I think it’s a great collection of flexible products for the modern workspace, especially in the current climate.
Imagine you’ve got a sudden reason for an impromptu meeting but the meeting room isn’t free, or perhaps it doesn’t seem like a good idea right now to all congregate in the same small enclosed room and share the same limited air. The Deski could be a great solution.
You can move a few of these cute, mobile little workstations on wheels into a circle in the middle of a much bigger space to create an instant collaboration area.
They have high or low backs, but even at their highest the screens are on only two sides, meaning you’re not fully closed off and it’s easy to see the other members of the group while keeping a distance.
This is a totally flexible, multifunctional, height-adjustable, fully convertible whiteboard-slash-table on castors.
Halfway through a meeting, you can stand up, vertically swivel your desktop around and suddenly it’s a whiteboard. What more could you want! Power? Well, the Tableboard comes with a rechargeable battery so it can be used anywhere, even if you’re nowhere near a power source. Handy!
The Non-Mobile Workstations:
This office pod system incorporates Anti-microbial photon disinfectant lighting to tackle airborne and surface bacteria and viruses. The booths come in a dazzling variety of sizes, from the small phone booth right up to one that can hold groups of up to an impressive 10 people.
The Visual Light Disinfectant means that when the booth is empty a blue disinfection light comes on which kills 99.9% of microbes. It has additional antiviral nano-coating on all surfaces, which kills bacteria and viruses (even effective against the dreaded Coronavirus) and the HEPA filtration system filters 99.99% of all harmful particles in the air.
It’s certainly clever, perfect for Covid and beyond.
I find these are an excellent option for those wanting some privacy for calls or moments of work that doesn’t require tying up a meeting room unnecessarily, but without giving up much space. In fact, these wall-mounted acoustic work cocoons don’t take up that much space at all, but the benefits are endless.
With BuzziSpace’s sound absorbing properties, the BuzziRing is great for video/Zoom or phone calls away from distractions, or just to grab a spot to catch up on emails. They can be used for informal one-to-one meetings and have the option of a transparent screen in the middle, separating the two sides for those concerned about social distancing.
The BuzziRing also comes with a built-in table, light and a handy USB charger so you won’t run out of battery halfway through that important call.
The Dennis is a ‘focus den’, or an individual quiet space for solo work, with high screens on three sides, providing the user with privacy and security. It can come with an inbuilt seat or with just a desktop to use with a task chair.
Perfect little nooks for staying safe and getting stuck into work.
The Miscellaneous Gadgets:
This is going to be amazing for so many businesses. It’s a nifty little portable power supply for laptops and mobile charging enabling you to pick up your tech and work anywhere. It has three USB-C ports (which are being used on the latest phones at the moment but will become the main USB charger in the future) and one ‘normal’ USB port for older tech.
It looks good, it feels nice and it’s ideal for getting power to breakout areas where you’d struggle to get a floor box, making it great for agile workers to grab on the go. Then you just drop it back onto its dock to recharge.
The charge on each unit lasts a whole day if three people are using it at once, or a whole week if just one person is using it.
This enables you to find out which workplaces, meeting rooms, desks or chairs are free to use via an app on your smartphone! This is a great example of how technology can streamline a simple internal process. You just put a small sensor on the pieces of furniture that are to be used flexibly and it sends data to the cloud, telling the app if the item is in use or not.
It can actually even locate colleagues in really big offices. If you want to be near a colleague you know to catch up, collaborate on a project or pick their brains, tap their name on the app and it can tell you where they’re currently working. This also means that staff can choose to book a desk away from others, purposefully leaving space to adhere to social distancing guidelines.
I’d say this is a great management system for smart working for large offices. It’s especially great for facilities management teams to be able to analyse which work areas are used the most and which are hardly used. Perhaps the company doesn’t need a new meeting room after all if data shows current ones are only used 30% of the time!
This might then enable you to fit in some of the other products above and allow for better social distancing.
Big thanks to our furniture pro, Danielle, for providing her picks and sharing wisdom for this one. That was certainly very informative and it makes doing office updates to assist with the safe return to work sound almost exciting.
If you’d like to work with our team, including Danielle, and make the most of our years of experience and knowledge yourself, get in touch.