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  • Layrd Design Ltd

Social Distancing in the Workplace

Updated: Feb 22, 2021

With the return to work post COVID-19 hopefully a not too distant idea for most, we decided to look into ways in which aspects of social distancing could be practised in the office.

With such extreme measures being enforced on the majority of the population over the last few weeks, it seems natural that many may be nervous for ‘normal’ life to resume, notably the prospect of sitting in a busy office.

Taking this into account, we wanted to investigate if there are ways to provide a smoother transition back to office working, perhaps by offering areas of limited contact, or simply methods to break up large open plan spaces.

We hoped to find solutions that are flexible, with the intention of multifunctional or multipurpose use that can respond to future needs.

Below we have complied some ideas to assist with these aspects of social distancing and those that could be a potential solution to our post-COVID world.


OCEE DESIGN, The Den Range

The Den Range is a collection by Ocee Design that addresses the need for privacy in open plan offices. The collection covers various different ‘pod’ styles to accommodate individuals without loosing touch with the wider space.

We particularly like the ‘Zig Zag’ formation, pictured above and below right. It is not so intrusive that individuals are completely partitioned off from the rest of the space, but it encourages a zonal feel to an office and effectively provides a private working environment.

It is also interesting to note that the Zig Zag Den can be reinterpreted with soft seating, transforming the desired use from a solitary desk space to a relaxed working or collaborative area.

Flexibility is key with the ‘Honeycomb’ design, as multiple pods can be reconfigured to provide various set up options, achieving an adaptable space.

More info here


OCEE DESIGN, Den Freestanding Panel

Perhaps one of the most basic options here, freestanding individual panels can be effective enough to hint at zonal and distanced working, without becoming harsh enclosures. They are obviously easy to install and manoeuvre, so a quick and effective way to break up open spaces whilst being easily adaptable.

More info here


STEELCASE, Lagunitas Focus Nook

With single ‘Nooks’ available from Steelcase, the design and configuration of a space is more easily controlled by the user. It is possible to install a single ‘Nook’ for the option of solo working, alternatively a collection of ‘Nooks’ in a row or positioned back to back allows for the division of a wide-open space.

We were particularly drawn by the semi sheer quality of the fabric use on this collection. Whilst an individual work space is clearly distinguished, the surrounding office is still visible.

More info here



The focus of the Kivo Range is flexibility. Their unique structures can be reworked and rebuilt time and again with a view to adapt to future office needs. This is cleverly achieved through the use of magnetic triangular tiles, placing full control back into the hands of the user whilst removing commitment to permanent structures.

With this approach, every structure has a huge variety of uses. As the photo below shows, pods are not restricted to only solo desk working. They can be manipulated to create relaxation spaces, lunch areas, meeting rooms or private working retreats; any combination is possible.

More info here



The Coppice collection has a compact quality that provides the potential of allocating more workers to a smaller space, whilst still retaining elements of private and distanced working.

Customisable features are key with this range, colours can be changed to fit with your brand and details such as integrated lighting address the consideration of ambiance. They go so far as ensuring all cable work can be effectively hidden between panels, never compromising on the overall clean aesthetic.

The additional benefit of almost all examples shown on this page is acoustic control in an open plan environment. Panels are an effective way to absorb sound and provide productive working areas.

More info here



alternative to the other seating booths shown here, Verco have developed a much softer aesthetic to acoustic and private work areas. Here voile curtains are the primary partition against the wider office, eluding to a private space without total separation. A more relaxed environment is achieved through the use of comfy seating and low tables, with lighting another customisable option.

We think this is a welcoming and less formal approach to distanced working.

More info here


OCEE DESIGN, Room in Room

This final consideration is perhaps not strictly an option for encouraging social distancing, in the same way as we have explored above, but instead hints at the notion of division.

The concept is designed to create a ‘Room in a Room’, specifically for large open plan areas with the need for privacy and concentration within the office community. These set ups can still embrace private working, one-to-one meetings or group discussion, all by the simplicity of using small ‘visual barriers’ to break up the space.

Simple, yet effective, it is another consideration for guiding footfall and flow within a large open plan office.

More info here


We have explored a variety of options to help with social distancing in an office environment. Most are easy to install and adaptable, suitable for quickly transforming existing workplaces in response to the current needs of returning workers.

If distanced working becomes a long-lasting desire of the country’s workforce, then we can rest assured there are many solutions available to assist with these developing requests.

If you are interested in any further information about any of the examples shown here, or want guidance on reconfiguring your workspace, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

We’re here to help you.

Take Care.


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Thank you for visiting our bog! This blog is a resource guide for inspirational and informational purposes. All the information found on my blog should be used at your own risk. All photos that are not taken by Layrd Design are linked to their sources and are widely available to download on the internet by the general public.

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