The global pandemic has created massive and complex challenges that have impacted everything — people, places, buildings, travel, almost every interaction we have with other people. For companies that went virtual, questions of when and how employees will return to an in-person work environment are being considered.

Employee wellbeing and safety is at the epicenter of organizations' decision-making processes as they make choices about the speed at which they can bring people back to the workplace. 

Early in 2020, as the Coronavirus Pandemic began, InStore Design Display pivoted from designing, building, and deploying retail displays and environments to producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for essential businesses, schools, and healthcare workers. 

IDD is now collaborating with our partners and current and new clients to strategize how to bring employees back to the office safely. We blend our user-centered design approach with the expertise of our office furniture design partners. This has allowed us to design barrier systems that provide additional protection layers without sacrificing employee experience and office design aesthetics

Companies are creating safer workplaces by adding layers of protection to desks or work areas. Typically this comes in the form of clear barriers, either glass or acrylic. If you are considering this type of additional protection for your employees, you may have questions about which material is most feasible and functional. 

We have gained insight into why acrylic (aka plexiglass) is preferred over glass when retrofitting existing furniture with barriers through our partnership with Kansas City's Scott Rice Office Works. Here are 3 Things to Consider When Choosing Workplace PPE.

Consideration #1: Cost of Material and Installation

The two main benefits of using glass as a cubicle barrier is that it is scratch resistant and can be cleaned with alcohol-based products. In every other category, plexiglass is the clear winner. It is stronger, more shatter-resistant, lighter weight, less costly, and more resistant to the elements and erosion than glass. And with proper cleaning methods, plexiglass remains clear. Due to the nature and weight of the material, plexiglass is easier to install, making the install cost less than that of glass.

Consideration #2: Permanent Installation vs. Easy to Take Down

The future of the coronavirus pandemic is unknown. As treatment options evolve and vaccines become available, it may not be necessary to have these barrier systems in place long term. If you are looking for a temporary solution that still looks polished and professional, plexiglass is the better material choice. Plexiglass is more lightweight and durable, so it can be installed using a temporary mounting system. The glass alternative typically requires a permanent mount because of its weight. These types of mounts have the potential to damage your furniture. 

Consideration #3: Weight and Shipping Care

Suppose you are planning to deploy barrier systems across several locations. In that case, shipping cost is a part of your budget. Glass weighs about twice as much as plexiglass, which can significantly impact shipping costs. In addition, the additional care required to deploy glass to keep it intact is substantial, which will further drive up the cost.

IDD's domestic plastic manufacturing and capabilities to design, prototype, test, build, and deploy enables our team to offer short lead times and efficient pricing. The high surges in demand for materials such as plexiglass and polycarbonate impact lead times significantly. Having a partner like IDD with a robust supply chain will be crucial if you need a project completed quickly.

In partnership with office design firms like Scott Rice Office Works, we can collaborate to identify the best solution for keeping employees safe once they return to the office. 

We hope you found these tips on what to consider as you navigate how to mitigate the COVID-19 exposure in your workplace to be helpful.

As a domestic plastic manufacturer, InStore Design Display has a strong supply chain and proven track record of short lead times and quality work. Learn more about how we can be a resource for your workplace PPE needs here.