Movable glass walls help create a flexible office environment as they can divide a large room into a smaller space for private meetings. Photo courtesy of Modernfold.

The year is 2019, and you work in an office where the culture is one of openness and collaboration. You enter the building, and you’re instantly greeted by team members scattered around a wide-open workspace. Desks and workstations and some smaller, private areas for one-on-one meetings fill the space. Other areas hold comfy chairs and couches where employees take breaks and sometimes have informal meetings. What a great place to work.

That work environment wasn’t uncommon in the pre-pandemic world. Today, things are different. Not everyone is as receptive to such open workspaces—even if they still work in an office.

Some companies and organizations are looking for ways to encourage employees to return to an office environment. But this means keeping them comfortable, productive and even healthy sometimes. Welcome to today’s flexible workspace. Movable glass walls are transforming once-open floor plans into unique spaces. These systems can provide a private office that opens up to create one big space when needed. In addition to flexible spaces, movable glass walls can help buildings meet design and performance features and benefits.

Flexible Matters

Some movable glass wall systems incorporate switchable glazing, allowing occupants to change from a clear to opaque state when necessary. Photo courtesy of Modernfold.

Today’s flexible workplaces offer more than flexible hours and work-from-home options. According to Ariana Villalobos, a marketing specialist with PRL Glass Systems in the City of Industry, Calif., today’s work environments adapt to the changing needs of occupants.

“This may include the ability to reconfigure the space for different uses, such as meetings, individual work or collaboration,” she says. “For example, a company could create a conference room that can be divided into two smaller rooms for smaller meetings. Or, a company could use a movable glass wall system to create a shared workspace that can be divided into individual spaces for employees who need to work alone.”

She adds that movable glass walls can be a valuable tool for businesses looking to create adaptable workspaces. These products can help businesses create more adaptable, private and well-lit areas, improving productivity and employee well-being.

Erin Lindsay, director of architectural business development with C.R. Laurence in Los Angeles, says companies today need to be flexible with ideas of the modern work environment. This could mean large, open spaces that can become smaller and provide acoustic control and privacy. Bringing daylight as deep into the space as possible is also important.

“The future of the work environment is more group-oriented. You need flexibility for group work in different scales,” says Lindsay. “For example, you need an open space in an all-hands-on-deck meeting. With the movable glass walls, you can also create smaller, more intimate spaces from that same area.”

Bryan Welch, managing director at Modernfold Inc. in Greenfield, Ind., agrees that flexibility is a key driver.

“It’s not efficient to design fixed spaces for every aspect the business needs, like having a conference room you use once a month,” he says. “It’s efficient to divide a large space into smaller spaces.”

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