Cubicles are having a comeback—thanks, in part, to social-distancing concerns in the office.
“A lot of our customers are making sure there is six feet of distance between spaces, and we’ve gotten lots of inquiries for cubicles,” says Joe Gammons, president and CEO of OFDC Commercial Interiors, which provides office furniture and design concepts to Florida businesses.
When the pandemic hit, Gammons said business owners called upon him for help getting workers back to the office safely. He responded with several solutions, one of them being a diverse line of customizable desk dividers made of acrylic, laminate fiberboard and sturdy cardboard, with surfaces that are easy to sanitize. The installation is quick, with OFDC team members working after hours or on weekends so office employees can return to the office with little interruption and greater peace of mind.
“Part of it was making people safe and comfortable with a division between them,” Gammons says.
Gammons also started offering floor plan reconfiguration services as a backup for businesses with a more collaborative setup.
“A lot of it is turning [desks] so they face the same direction, adding higher screens and creating space division so people feel more comfortable,” he says, and added that typically, a team of eight OFDC design and planning specialists can do so in a day for about $3,000.
As an initial boost of confidence for office workers, OFDC also introduced Back-to-Work bags for employees, which include gloves, disinfecting wipes, sanitizer and masks.
In the initial months of uncertainty after COVID-19 hit, Gammons said some of the services were slow to catch on.
“There wasn’t a lot of traction at first, because people were really leery and holding onto their cash,” he says.
But as months of social-distancing orders continued businesses invested in the safer solutions for their employees. With the help of these sales, OFDC Commercial Interiors has managed to maintain a profit, with revenue down about 30% compared to pre-pandemic.
“We’ve made the appropriate adjustments, and if that’s our new normal, that’s fine,” Gammons says.
While Gammons and his team quickly responded with innovative offerings to businesses wanting to get their employees back to work, more uncertainty lies ahead.
“The real thing we’re all sitting with bated breath to figure out is what happens to the commercial real estate market. That’s what’s going to drive our business,” Gammons says. “Are people going to add space so they can have distance, or are they going to downsize so people can work from home? I don’t think those questions have been answered yet.”
No matter the outcome, Gammons plans to respond from a place of service.
“The goal is [that] we’re all in this together from a local business standpoint,” he says, “and I think if we all do what’s best for each other, we’re all going to come out of this good.”