Should Room Dividers Make a Revival?

Future of Work
Should Room Dividers Make a Revival?

Every so often, a design trend will cause a seismic shift in the way people view and utilize space. Such was the case with the open concept office. Trendy startups and tech behemoths alike have touted the benefits their open offices, complete with canteen-style desk arrangements and attractive shared lounges. Before we knew it, “open concept” had become synonymous with “modern and desirable”.

The cubicle, on the other hand, became a representation for all that is stuffy and outdated within the workplace. Gone were the days of mundane office environments — at least, if the next generation had anything to say about it.

But while open office plans can bring many benefits — from increased employee camaraderie to greater density in smaller spaces — it seems more and more companies are beginning to miss the privacy and focus that dividers and barriers allowed them.

That’s one reason why many businesses are embracing hybrid design: some employees will flourish in a busy, communal environment, while others need the privacy and noise absorption provided by a separate workspace. Having an office that can ebb and flow with your needs — be it expanding to absorb additional meeting space or separating off open areas to create additional privacy — ensures you are always able to meet your team’s office needs.

If you’re looking to add some privacy to your open-concept office space, read on to learn why room dividers make for a flexible and cost-effective solution.

Room for character

Room dividers have been around for a very long time — Chinese ancient folding screens date as far back as the Zhou dynasty; likewise, as early as the 8th century, room dividers were used to provide makeshift privacy in Japanese tea ceremonies and religious events. In the centuries since, they’ve been through many iterations — and have, as a result, brought many unique benefits.

As today’s office designs becomes more open and flexible, room dividers may be office managers’ best friends. Acknowledging the shortcomings of open floor plans doesn’t mean immediately reverting to a 20th century office aesthetic — or to eras past. But it does mean coming up with strategic ways to create spaces that reap the benefits of both worlds.

Desirable impermanence

Room dividers are there when you need them, gone when you don’t. There is little commitment involved, both in terms of the type of partition you choose and where it goes. Naturally, the addition of any type of divider is much easier and more cost-effective than a full office remodel. As the needs of the team change, so do the needs of the room.

Open plan workspaces can become cubicles. Desks can be separated into meeting areas and then easily turned back into communal space. Not only do room dividers help create privacy between coworkers, but they are also useful for controlling noise levels — after all, sound bounces around freely in open spaces, which can take a significant toll on overall productivity.

Light and light-friendly

Partitions are generally lightweight and can be set up or moved by just about anyone. They often fold up nicely — meaning they’re simple to store — and can come on wheels for easy mobility. For offices with changing needs and growing teams, or those leasing space that they cannot permanently alter, room dividers can offer easy structure without a labor-intensive refurnishing.  

Furthermore, many room dividers are opaque and can moderate light coming through windows without blocking it completely. If you’re in a space that’s closer to street level or in the shadow of a neighboring building, using a divider will add additional privacy without sacrificing those sweet afternoon rays.

While mention of “room dividers” may bring to mind a wooden frame with ivory paper panels, dividers can take many other forms. Whiteboards can break up a workspace while giving teams a place to brainstorm ideas and keep track of goals; bookshelves can similarly break up a room and help keep resources on-hand; plant walls can help ecologically-minded companies spruce up and divide an open space. The opportunities are endless, so get creative — this is one more opportunity to express your corporate identity.

So, should room dividers make a triumphant revival? In many cases, yes. They’re an excellent, easy solution to some of today’s biggest workplace conundrums. Whether you’re looking to divide an open space into multiple work areas, block out excess noise or light, or simply offer employees a little extra privacy, room dividers can do the trick.

If your company requires a temporary workspace for a day, week, month, or longer, Breather has hundreds of options that can accommodate almost any need in 10 major cities worldwide.

Photo Credits: Unsplash / Nastuh Abootalebi, Shutterstock / Ume illus, Shutterstock / Yuuwaan, Shutterstock / Oscar Boyd, Shutterstock / 2M media, Shutterstock / bezikus


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