Moving More Cellular: The Impact of COVID on Office Design

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Moving More Cellular: The Impact of COVID on Office Design

As with fashion, interior design experiences cycles in what is currently deemed ‘in vogue’. The meteoric rise of open plan living has dominated our home environments over the past decade and this has also been reflected in our work domains. However, a change in office trend has been forecast, prompted by the global pandemic and requirement for social distancing.

Jon Dickman, Commercial Director at Needspace, sets out his prediction for the return to a trend last associated with the 1970s – cellular office design.

What is a cellular office design?

Cellular office design was first conceptualised in the late 60s by renowned designer Robert Propst. It is also known as a closed office and is typified by a series of partitions or panels to create private and separate work spaces for each individual member of staff, or a maximum of two people. While it doesn’t work for every business, it does have a number of advantages in a COVID-dominated world, which open plan offices simply cannot offer. 

The benefits of moving away from open plan layouts

Creating the right office ambience and layout is the foundation for a happy and productive team. At Needspace, our focus is on the provision of affordable, quality, managed workspace in highly commutable locations and, most crucially, enabling our clients the flexibility to create a solution that is right for them.

The iconic cellular design has some clear benefits and below are just a few examples of the merits of creating this working environment:

Privacy and social distance

Having separate work spaces from colleagues clearly affords a certain amount of privacy and social distance from others. Sensitive calls can take place without having to find a private meeting room or going to a coffee shop.

Employees can also come to the office and enjoy the benefits of working more collaboratively and collectively with each other, while feeling reassured the likelihood of cross contamination is vastly reduced. 

Focus and concentration

Without the visual disturbance that an open plan office can provide, employees can better focus on tasks with fewer disruptions. Noise levels are greatly reduced and so too is the likelihood of being pulled into conversations that don’t concern you and could distract from the job in hand. 

Healthier environment

Germs and cleanliness have never been a bigger and more important concern for us, particularly in public and work spaces. Having their own cellular space means employees aren’t in close contact.

The spread of germs is minimised and transmission between colleagues is reduced. According to a Scandanavian study, there is a 62% increase in sick leave in open plan offices of six or more employees when compared to a cellular office. This translates into seven to eight days per year compared to five days for a cellular environment. 

Modern and professional

While cellular work spaces may bring to mind scenes from the likes of Mad Men, gone are the days of dreary and uninspiring brown panelling and pokey cubicles. These have been replaced with frosted glazing, industrial-style crittall panelling or minimal screening to create modern, fresh and vibrant offices. 

A managed workspace that’s right for your business

Of course, a compromise could be to combine a cellular layout with an open plan communal area or breakout space to give you the best of both worlds. What is most important is having a workspace that supports the unique needs of your businesses and the requirements of your team – and that’s something that is ever-changing thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Finding a flexible provider of managed workspace will help, as we’re able to understand your company’s unique needs and identify a solution that ticks all your boxes. 

We offer flexible, affordable workspaces in great locations across London and the South East.

Rent workspaces in Islington


14 Chillingworth Road, Islington, London N7 8QJ

St Mark’s Studios is a restored listed building in a highly desirable part of London that has become a hub for tech businesses and start-ups.

Horsham offices to rent with affordable prices


City Business Centre, Brighton Road, RH13 5BB

Great value, flexible workspaces in a stunning former Victorian warehouse 5 mins’ walk from the heart of this West Sussex market town.

Offices to let in Clerkenwell with affordable prices


77 Bastwick Street, Clerkenwell, EC1V 3PS

Situated in the vibrant community of Clerkenwell, our 77 Bastwick Street office space is ideally located for access to the City and to trendy Shoreditch.

Flexible office spaces to rent in Hammersmith


227 Shepherd's Bush Road, W6 7AS

Our Hammersmith offices are an attractive and impressive place to work, right in the heart of a buzzing business district.

Flexible and affordable office space to rent in Crawley


Crawley Business Centre, Stephenson Way, RH10 1TN

Our offices in Crawley are seven minutes from Three Bridges station offering easy access to both Gatwick and London.

Flexible offices to rent in Clapham


Clapham North Arts Centre, 26-32 Voltaire Rd, London SW4 6DH

Flexible and affordable studios and offices for rent in vibrant Clapham. 

Rent office space in Earlsfield


Earlsfield Business Centre, 9 Lydden Rd, London, SW18 4LT

Earlsfield Business Centre is a light, airy and lively building offering a mix of office, workshop and studio spaces.

Let us know what you are looking for!

Whether you need a low cost, flexible alternative to leased offices, a project office or room for offsite meetings, we have the space for you.