Moving more cellular: The impact of Covid on office design | Wates

As with fashion, interior design experiences cycles in what is currently deemed in vogue

The meteoric rise in open plan living has dominated our home environments over the past decade and this has also been reflected in our work domains. However, a change in office trend has been forecast, prompted by the global pandemic and requirement for social distancing. Jon Dickman from managed workspace provider, Needspace? sets out his prediction for the return to a trend last associated with the 1970s – cellular office design.

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What is a cellular office design?

Cellular office design was first conceptualised in the late 60s by renowned designer Robert Propst. It is also known as a closed office and is typified by a series of partitions or panels to create private and separate work spaces for each individual member of staff, or a maximum of two people. While it doesn’t work for every business, it does have a number of advantages in a Covid-dominated world that open plan offices simply cannot offer.

The benefits of moving away from open plan layouts

Creating the right office ambience and layout is the foundation for a happy and productive team. At Needspace? our focus is on the provision of affordable, quality, managed workspace in highly commutable locations and most crucially, enabling our clients the flexibility to create a solution that is right for them. However, this iconic cellular design has some clear benefits and below are just a few examples of the merits to creating this working environment.

Privacy and social distance

Having separate work spaces from colleagues clearly affords a certain amount of privacy and social distance from others. Sensitive calls can take place without having to find a private meeting room or going to a coffee shop. Employees can also come to the office and enjoy the benefits of working more collaboratively and collectively with each other while feeling reassured the likelihood of cross contamination is vastly reduced.

Focus and concentration

Without the visual disturbance that an open plan office can provide, employees can better focus on tasks with fewer disruptions. Noise levels are greatly reduced and so too is the likelihood of being pulled into conversations that don’t concern you and could distract from the job in hand.

Healthier environment

Germs and cleanliness have never been a bigger and more important concern for us, particularly in public and work-spaces. Having our own cellular space, means employees aren’t in close contact. The spread of germs is minimised and transmission between colleagues is reduced. According to a Scandanavian study, there is a 62% increase in sick leave in open plan offices of six or more employees when compared to a cellular office. This translates into seven to eight days per year compared to five days for a cellular environment.

Modern and professional

While cellular work spaces may bring to mind scenes from the likes of Mad Men, gone are the days of dreary and uninspiring brown panelling and pokey cubicles. These have been replaced with frosted glazing, industrial style crittal panelling or minimal screening to create modern, fresh and vibrant offices.

A managed workspace that’s right for your business

Of course, a compromise could be to combine a cellular layout with an open plan communal area or breakout space to give you the best of both worlds. What is most important is having a workspace that supports the unique needs of your businesses and the requirements of your team – and that’s something that is ever changing thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Finding a flexible provider of managed workspace will help as we’re able to understand your company’s unique needs and identify a solution that ticks all your boxes.

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