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Are Social Distancing Screens for Offices Still Needed?

Posted By:

Office Screens UK

Date:

13/10/2021

Reading Time:

12 Mins

Are Social Distancing Screens for Offices Still Needed?

Although cases of Covid-19 are still circulating, most protective measures have been lifted and life seems to be returning to normal. But, with Coronavirus still very much part of life around the world, in many ways we have yet to (and may never) return to the same ‘normality’ we enjoyed pre-pandemic. Redefining this ‘normality’ is proving complicated when it comes to which safety measures we continue to employ, particularly now the majority of people here in the UK have been vaccinated. For example, one of the main questions everyone is asking now is, are social distancing screens for offices still needed?


What is social distancing?

Social distancing is a term we’ve been introduced to only relatively recently, when the Coronavirus pandemic appeared and it became essential to implement new measures to help slow the spread of the virus as much as possible. In the early days of the pandemic, before vaccines were available (and when the new, more transmissible variants appeared late last year) UK hospitals were becoming overwhelmed by numbers of intensive care patients, so it was clear we couldn’t continue our daily lives as normal. Social distancing measures included wearing face masks in indoor public spaces such as shops and hospitality venues, washing or sanitising hands regularly, limiting numbers of people gathering, remaining 2m apart from each other, and using screens and dividers to form hygiene barriers between people. As we have moved on to a new stage of the pandemic, the term ‘social distancing’ is being replaced by ‘physical distancing’ for a more specific term referencing purely the distance between two people, as opposed to the variety of different terms covered under ‘social distancing’.

The original social distancing measures as set out by the UK Government in March 2020:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
  • Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
Are businesses still following workplace social distancing?

As of July 19th 2021, the majority of government enforced regulations around social distancing in the UK were disbanded - this means workplace social distancing is no longer required by law. However, as the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) explains; ‘the pandemic has not yet ended, employers must continue to update risk assessments and risk management approaches to safeguard employees' health and minimise the risk of infection, basing plans on up-to-date government and public health guidance.

Employers can use their Coronavirus specific risk assessments to assist in their decision-making process. As part of a COVID risk assessment, employers must examine their office set ups and consider how best to protect their employees should cases of Coronavirus break out. This might include everything from staggered working to on-site testing, one-way systems to increased numbers of hygiene stations - and, of course, social distancing screens for offices.

Is social distancing still relevant?

As identified by SAGE, the highest risk of close-range transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) is when someone is in face-to-face contact with an infected person while indoors. In addition, it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated. Therefore, social distancing, particularly in indoor spaces such as offices,  is absolutely still relevant and should be something we all consider on a daily basis. Modeling studies based on influenza estimated that workplace social distancing measures alone produced a median reduction of 23% in the cumulative influenza attack rate, proving that these measures do have an effect on the transmissibility of a virus.

Why are social distancing screens for offices still important?

Social distancing screens for offices are implemented to help protect against one of the most common forms of virus transmission - known as Contact or Droplet Transmission. This type of transmission refers to respiratory droplets, usually >5-10 μm in diameter, which are expelled when an infectious person breathes, sneezes, coughs, shouts or sings. These droplets are ‘relatively’ heavy in comparison to aerosols and therefore cannot remain in the air for a long time or across long distances. While face masks will catch the majority of these larger droplets, these are no longer legal requirements in offices and workplaces, nor is remaining socially distanced. Therefore, divider screens are essential tools to offer protection to your workforce as they form barriers between people, blocking the potentially infectious respiratory droplets from travelling person-to-person and therefore preventing the spread of the virus. 

EASYFIT Perspex® Desk Screens

EASYFIT Perspex® Desk Screens

Mobile Anti Virus Perspex® Divider Screen

Mobile Anti Virus Perspex® Divider Screen



While social distancing screens were first introduced to fight against Coronavirus, they are also helpful tools for preventing the spread of other seasonal illnesses such as the common cold, flu, Norovirus etc. These ‘bugs’ can lay waste to offices, spreading like wildfire through a workforce and therefore dropping productivity rates very quickly. Maintaining a comprehensive system of sneeze screens and Covid screens for desks is a great way to keep your employees healthy and protected from more than just Coronavirus.

How you set up your social distancing screens for offices is just as important. For more tips, our blog How To: Partition an Office After COVID-19 is full of helpful information.

What are the types of social distancing screens?

There is a wide variety of different office social distancing screens available, which one you choose depends on the requirements of your work environment:

Desk Dividers

Installing Perspex® acrylic or glass desk divider screens is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to introduce social distancing partitions to your workplace in a non-obtrusive way. Clipping to a desktop to form a barrier between employees, these desk panels help to prevent transmission by trapping the infectious droplets rather than letting them spread around the room. The transparent finish of the acrylic enables employees to continue to communicate effectively, maintaining a friendly and productive atmosphere.

Reception Screens

Some of the most high-risk areas in terms of spreading illness are areas where interaction with members of the public occur, such as reception desks. Choosing an appropriate reception counter screen is essential to protect your customer-facing employees. We have options to suit all different kinds of counters and reception desks, including folding screens, stable dividers or fixed, curved glass screens. Counter reception screens are also available with cut-out transaction hatches for payments, information/document exchange and easy communication.

Freestanding Panels

Dividing up the space in your office into smaller areas for individual teams or groups can be a key tool for minimising contact and therefore virus transmission. Freestanding screens are a great way to create pop-up meeting rooms or workspaces within a larger, open-plan office, as they can be connected together using the linking strips included. The wipe-clean surfaces of the Perspex or glass panels mean they can be easily sanitised on a regular basis to prevent the build-up of infectious particles and help keep your office clean, safe and hygienic.

Mobile Screens

Investing in a series of mobile dividers on wheels offers you the maximum value for money as these kinds of partitions are a truly flexible social distancing screen solution. The lockable castor wheels attached to their base frame mean that these screens can easily be moved around your workplace and locked into place wherever you need them. They can be used to divide up ‘zones’ in offices, create temporary meeting spaces, or sit between employees for additional protection.

Hanging Partitions

Is your office short on desk space? If so, choosing a hanging social distancing divider is a clever alternative. These lightweight panels hang from the ceiling in place of a fixed desk divider or reception counter screen. If you already have fabric office partitions, these panels can be fixed over them for a cost-effective upgrade to a more hygienic workspace.

For more information about social distancing screens for offices, you can check out our Complete Guide To Social Distancing Screens, or browse our full collections here. Our expert team is always on hand for assistance, too, you can reach us via our Contact Us page or on 01234 676767. 

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