In the wake of COVID-19, the workplace and what it will look like has been the topic not only of countless industry webinars but also in the wider press with the BBC featuring an article on what the post COVID workplace might look like.
At first it seemed like the panic response of manufacturers and indeed furniture dealers was to cover my LinkedIn feed with offers of plastic and Perspex screens. The topic of this new sub sector of products became part of the webinar I attended: “Map Your Future” – part of the Vitra webcast series “The Future of Work in Uncertain Times” where Elena Panagiotidis, Senior Associate at Perkins + Will London quite rightly asked if the more pertinent question is putting more product out into the world the right solution? Is the short term need versus the long time environmental impact of plastic worth it and should wearing masks and hand washing be enough to minimise continued infection in the workplace?
Indeed it wasn’t too long before we saw somewhat of a backlash to these screens from an environmental and sustainability point of view. With posts of dolphins in Venice canals and view of the Himalayas not seen from some Indian cities for over 20 years due to pollution, sustainability has never been more on the agenda.
The National Geographic article “Is a world without trash possible?” highlights that every year we transform more than 100 billion tons of raw material into products. Less than a quarter becomes buildings, cars, or other long-lasting things. Less than 10 percent cycles back into the economy. The circular economy movement aims to increase that number and reduce the enormous amount of waste. Instead it promotes the idea of a circular economy where we Use less, keep things in use longer, recycle endlessly—a circular economy. In the cradle-to-cradle vision, all products are ultimately broken down either to “technical nutrients,” which are made into new products, or biological ones, which return to the soil.
Fortunately some manufacturers in our industry have come up with alternative solutions to appeal to end clients who still want to the have reassurance of screening but want a solution that does not compromise their environmental message and I want to feature just a few of them:
FROVI: - Fabric Alternative
Frovi have been doing some great new product innovation over the last couple of years and their new Picket screens are no exception. Designed with a unique Safe Felt design with anti-microbial properties, they are fully customisable and best of all Safe Felt is made from recycled PET. Picket screen are available from stock and in 6 felt colour finishes.
More information here: https://frovi.co.uk/product/new-designs/picket-screen/
CLARUS: - Glass Alternative
Clarus known for their writable glass developed their new Be! Clear product in record time in response to the COVID-19 breakout. The new product offers a protective shield with a cut
out to facilitate taking temperatures from a safe distance. The design allows for the protection of all parties during the screening process while also allowing the shield to be wiped clean of all germs, thanks to the non-porous nature of glass.
More information here: https://www.clarus.com/gb/be-clear/
AGILITIA & OFFICE PRINCIPLES : - Cardboard Alternatives
No not a homemade option that one of my connections proudly posted on their LinkedIn!
Agilita has brought out the Miljo product, as they wanted to come up with a solution that offered good protection to this current virus but could be sustainably sourced and recycled. Whilst apart from having a great name, is 100% recyclable and manufactured using 80% recycled raw materials, with a white cardboard frame with clear film vision panel and is available in 2-3 weeks.
More information here:
Office Principles have a similar cardboard alternative they have called the “Sneeze Screen” which is 100% recyclable with a see-through window made from clear film and a Ccble feed for tidiness and safety. They are available in the one size also with in stock delivery.
More information here: https://officeprinciplesshop.com/3-way-desk-shield/
Sally Rice is the Founder and Managing Director of S Rice Consultancy who offer companies in the commercial interiors industry advice on the Operational areas of business with the aim of helping them gain more time and cost efficiencies, maintain sustainable growth and ultimately improve their bottom line.
Follow their LinkedIn page at https://www.linkedin.com/company/sriceconsultancy