As Maryland lifts our strictest lockdown during the Covid-19 outbreak and moves us into a gradual opening of our economy, business owners will need to make changes to the office itself. There are many changes that can be made in the commercial office environment that is similar to what we see in retail businesses. For business owners, these changes are inexpensive and can lead to a much safer environment for employees and clients who will frequent a business. 

Safe Distance

For opening businesses, the CDC recommends “establish policies and practices for social distancing.” These guidelines go on to say, “Alter your workspace to help workers and customers maintain social distancing and physically separate employees from each other and from customers, when possible.” See more: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html

Photo Credit: Symmetry Office

The most obvious correction is to move desks further apart so that employees have more physical space. Eliminate a few desks when possible to make more room. In conference and training rooms, remove every other chair. In private offices, move guest chairs further away from a person’s desk. Once you revisit your workplace with social distancing in mind, it will be easy to come up with solutions that everyone can live with.

Adding Privacy & Protection

Adding privacy and protection to a work area can be accomplished with desktop panels, free-standing screens, and permanent partitions.  The most popular enhancement for open benching systems is acrylic screens (clear or frosted) that are easily clipped to the desktop.  

We have many sources for acrylic panels that add physical barriers for desks and desktops on systems furnishings. Many employers are adding acrylic panels to their reception desks to make a safer environment for front office staff and visitors. Among our favorites are Enwork’s variety of desktop panels in a variety of materials, styles, and sizes. The manufacturer promises buyers a “low investment and high confidence” outcome.  The product is easy for installers to add and to remove.

Symmetry is another product line we use for the addition of front and side panels to an existing desk or work surface. Symmetry’s clean lines enables business owners to keep their open-office look, while adding safety and privacy. In addition, Symmetry has products that work on both fixed and adjustable-height desks. 

Office Source is another solution for Covid-19 protection with clear screens, acrylic desktop partitions, and desktop screens with options for fabric and acrylic components. Office Source has a large inventory in the mid-Atlantic region, so that customers can obtain delivery in a couple of days. 

These products can be mounted on just the front of a work surface or on all three sides.  Some privacy panels clamp on to save the integrity of the furniture itself, while others are held in place with screws and must be drilled in. Because acrylic panel solutions are in high demand, lead times change often as manufacturers strive to fill these orders.  

Office furniture manufacturers offer many options for both attached and free-standing panels to separate employees. These solutions are great for adding privacy to an open office environment.  Also, many of these products are available in stock for delivery within 2-3 days for office managers who need to quickly modify their existing safe for Covid-19 precautions. 

At 1 Source Office Furniture, we help clients space plan any of these solutions so that new partitions do not prohibit movement or access to fire exits, which is important to the overall safety of your staff.

See more guidelines on the Open Maryland website. https://open.maryland.gov/backtobusiness/

Note: Always check with your HR manager and business attorney for a Covid-19 policy at your business. 

About 1 Source Office Furniture

In business since 2010, 1 Source Office Furniture sells new business furnishings in Maryland and other states throughout the USA. Owners are Marc Rosen, President and Laurie Rosen. Services include: Complimentary space planning with 2-D and 3-D renderings, free consultation at client’s location and (fee) delivery / installation. Some products are in stock and available in 2-3 days. Showroom visits by appointment. Call (410) 982-7032 or visit www.1sourceofficefurniture.com