tall cubes in office

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Cubicles and Office Partitions May See a Comeback

January 27, 2021

The pandemic is bringing back the cubicle as offices abandon open offices for greater walls and separation.

“Adding cubicles and partitions is one of the easiest ways to ensure the safety of workers, along with reducing of office densities, widening walkways, and minimizing shared office spaces,” says Sam Cicero, president of Cicero Construction Group, a firm based in Plainfield, Ill., that specializes in commercial property renovation.

Cubicles have become less common in the workplace over the past three decades. More businesses have embraced open layouts of desks that they believe fostered greater collaboration among employees. But now businesses are concerned that such a layout with fewer physical barriers will cause viruses to spread more easily in the workplace.

Cicero Construction says that the typical cubicle is usually 6 by 6 feet or 8 by 12 feet. But the standard office desk in an open layout floor plan is usually about half that—5 feet wide and 2.5 feet deep. Cicero Construction adds that to bring a feeling of a more open-office workplace, some cubicles are using transparent plexiglass dividers instead of the traditional fabric, metal, or plastic ones.

Cicero recommends that cubicle barriers be at least 5.5 feet high; desks in adjacent cubicles should not face one another; and partition tops are kept at a minimum of 18 to 24 inches below the ceiling to allow for appropriate air system circulation. They also say the best materials for cubicles are laminate, acrylic, glass, and writable surfaces, which are hard and nonporous surfaces that are easier to clean and disinfect.

Companies are taking several steps to try to reduce the spread of viruses in the workplace as they look to get more employees to return to the office. Upgraded ventilation systems and the use of ultraviolet lights to disinfect are growing more popular. Read more: Commercial Turns to ‘Bipolar Ionization,’ UV Light to Fight COVID-19 Spread