Automated, flexible workplace solutions will pave the way for companies to return to work


As the country prepares to emerge from lockdown and return to work, businesses and architectural teams are looking at ways to adapt workplaces to make them safer. 

Julian Sargent is group managing director of Style Partitions, the UK’s leading moveable wall specialist, and he believes there are some core areas where change could take place very quickly.

“Workplace space planners will need to look carefully at how both existing and new office floor plans can be redesigned to allow meeting and collaboration spaces to be created that allow safe distances between the participants,” said Julian.

“They will also be looking at minimising all physical contact, which is why fully automated moveable walls, that move in and out of position at the touch of a button, could be the perfect solution to help adapt space when its necessary to limit the numbers in one area.

“Recent advances in technologies have seen automation replace manual handling in the deployment of moveable wall systems within the workplace. 

“Heavy, manually operated systems have been replaced by new lightweight, high acoustic elements which use motorised carriers to move the panels and this automation removes the risk of virus transfer that is present in the manually operated variant.

“If floor space is an issue, we can also offer Skyfold, which is a vertically rising, fully automatic moveable wall housed discreetly in the ceiling cavity and descends at the push of a button to divide a room with outstanding aesthetics and acoustic integrity.”

But how will office design adapt?

According to Julian, traditional office floor plans may be redesigned to reduce the number of people in an office at any given time, with more flexible working practices that proved to work during lockdown being adopted more broadly. 

“State of the art, contactless access control technologies will be used for access and egress from buildings, negating the need to touch door furniture,” continued Julian.  

“Motion sensors will replace light switches reducing the risk of contamination. Taps which produce boiling, sparkling or chilled drinking water will see kettles in staff canteens disappear. 

“The recent trend for back-to-back, bench style workstations is likely to be replaced by a more retro 90s style workstation, where the user is cocooned in a space protected by screens separating them from others.

“The reality is, we’re likely to see a growing trend in highly automated, flexible workspaces that will enable careful and safe space management, giving reassuring to employees that their place of work is being well-managed and their well-being seen as a priority.”

For more information, contact your nearest regional Style office.