Are Collaborative Workspaces In NJ & NY A Thing Of The Past?

Once upon a time cubicles were standard. Then, someone took those away and flipped the paradigm with collaborative spaces. This layout allowed more people to work in a smaller area, increasing the workforce and saving money on office space. It also eliminated barriers (ie cubicle walls), allowing for constant and direct conversation and collaboration, which increases productivity. That’s a win all around!  

But now the Covid-19 pandemic has businesses racing to reconfigure their workplaces to get them up to code. Namely, spacing employees further apart and putting those walls right back up to make individual workspaces. 

It would seem that Covid-19 has killed the efficient collaborative layout, wouldn’t it? 

Not at all! 

Don’t Revert Your Office. Adapt It. 

Things won’t be the same offices, but by no means do you have to permanently backtrack. A vaccination is in the works and once it can be mass-produced, then offices should have the all clear to open normally and at full capacity. However, since experts are predicting that there may be seasonal outbreaks of Covid-19 each year, like the flu, it’s important that your collaborative layout be flexible. This way, it can easily be adjusted to keep your employees safe from infection.  

We know what you’re thinking, “There’s no way I’ll be able to do this again!” 

To which we reply, “Yes, you can!” After all, if this country has the smarts to put a man on the moon, then you can figure out how to safely get employees back into the office, right?  

Right. 

How To Easily Make Your Collaborative Office Flexible & Safe 

Most people might think that the only (or easiest) solution is to move furniture 6ft apart, but this isn’t the case. Moving furniture requires manpower and space. Chances are you don’t have enough to fit all the desks the right distance away from each other and without causing a safety hazard (blocking doors, passages, etc…)  

These are a few easy ways you can ensure that your office can stay open while practicing proper social distancing during Covid-19:  


1. Take a cue from the schools and alternate your employees work schedule.

Employee On Alternate Schedule, Coming Into Work

This is similar to how students might be alternating days at school during Covid-19. Team A works in the office Monday, while Teams B & C work from home. Then, on Tuesday, Team B works from the office while A & C work from home and so on. Your employees can use their days in the office to regroup, review goals, and strategize a game plan for continued success.  

Chances are you’ll have implement this one way or another depending on how many employees you have and the severity of health-risk. 


Pros

  • Maintains open layout/minimal furniture relocating 
  • Keep office filled to state mandated percent limit 
  • Staff can communicate in person 
  • They can easily stay 6ft apart 

Cons

  • Employees will likely spend more days home than in office 

2. Use protective sneeze guards, panels & barriers.  

Sneeze Guards, Panels & Barriers
An adult man bank customer making a financial transaction with a bank teller over the counter in a retail bank. The woman caucasian bank teller is smiling and cheerfully providing the customer service. Photographed behind the shoulder of the customer in a horizontal format.

You’ve probably seen these things everywhere. They’re those clear acrylic shields at the cash register when you go to the grocery store and hanging from the ceiling at your local pharmacy. They make these sneeze guards and barriers specifically for desks and tables, too!  


Pros

  • Maintains open layout/minimal furniture relocating 
  • Many sizes & types available 
  • Easily disinfected 
  • Can be mounted or portable 
  • Allows you to quickly adjust workspaces to CDC code if need be 

Cons

  • For open office layouts, these work best if an employee is sitting—they lack height 
  • Mounted options may leave marks/holes in desks & workstations 
  • Reconfiguration may still be necessary 

 3. Invest in modern cubicles.

HON Flock Modern Cubicles

Hear us out! Times have changed, and so have cubicles. Think about it like this: 

A car from 1980 would get you from A to B, eat up a ton of gas and had minimal convenient features. A car from the same company today is probably a hybrid, has energy saving capabilities, automatic seat adjustment, reverse camera and might even park itself!  

Unlike the outdated models that you’re probably envisioning, modern cubicles are sleek and professional with incredible storage capabilities. Most importantly, they are designed to be versatile. This means that no matter the situation, they can be adjusted to fit your needs: 

You want a layout that’s collaborative? You got it.  

You want to increase those walls to Covid-19 protection heights? Done!  

Just want to change the layout for a new vibe? The only limits are the walls of your office. 


Pros

  • Many sizes & types available 
  • Made by reputable manufacturers 
  • Collaborative layout compatible 
  • Can be made into private workstations for focus 
  • Easily adapts to Covid/Flu seas with the help of panels 
  • Allows you to get creative with layouts 
  • Professional aesthetic 
  •  Great storage capabilities 
  • Lasts for YEARS to come 
  • One time delivery & installation  

Cons

  • Requires complete updating of the office desking system 

So are collaborative and open layout offices a thing of the past? Nope! Not even with modern cubicles. This is a trend that’s here to stay. It’s just a matter of how well you prepare your desking system to adapt to necessary health requirements. Maybe you just need to rearrange the office furniture you already have. Maybe you need barriers or new cubicles are your best option. Maybe both!  

Not sure where to begin or unsure which is the best option for your NJ office? As your local interior design team, we are happy to help prescribe the most flexible option that best for your office.