Modular Office Partitions - Benefits, Types and How to Choose

Posted on January 20, 2021 by Sridhar Balasubramanian

The advent of COVID-19 has brought about marked changes in our everyday work and play, predominantly geared toward physical separation from others to decrease the spread of this virus. For employers, response to the pandemic has increased both the utility of and demand for modular office partitions and dividers, to keep workers safer in multi-employee businesses. 

The Advantages of Modular Office Partitions

The use of office modular partitions has actually surged in popularity over the past couple decades, well preceding the coronavirus. Now solidly established as the leading design trend of this century among businesses of all kinds, modular partitions and dividers are used across the full range of workplaces, from high tech and manufacturing to healthcare and retail settings. Besides their alignment with the CDC’s COVID-19 prevention recommendation to “install transparent shields or other physical barriers where possible,” office partitions have numerous other advantages:

1. Better Employee Health – Office partitions and dividers decrease the transmission of the coronavirus along with many other pathogens that cause colds and the flu. Healthier workers are, of course, more productive.

2. Private Space with Collaborative Capability – An office built with carefully planned clear and opaque partitions, in a variety of heights and arrangements, can achieve a harmonious blend of social distance, privacy and collaboration. Workers can have personal space behind solid partitions, which help to block out visible distractions and noise. But if they need or want to be involved with others regarding particular tasks or projects, it’s easy to connect from a safe distance.

3. Versatility – Partitions and dividers, as opposed to permanent walls, have the built-in advantage of being portable and therefore adjustable when desired. Workplaces change as often as the people who work there, and lightweight, movable partitions can accommodate a business’ dynamic nature.

4. Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability – The versatility of a couple corollaries of movable partitions is more cost-effective and sustainable than teardown dividers or construction of permanent walls. The high price of construction materials and labor goes without saying, and the process generates a huge volume of waste that winds up in landfills. Partitions can and should be manufactured using recyclable materials. Combined with their long-term durability, modular partitions are far more environmentally sustainable.

5. Aesthetics – With all the options for office partition design and materials, they can be very aesthetically pleasing. Use of glass partitions, for example, leverages more natural lighting, which lowers electricity costs and enhances the ambience of the workspace. 

Creating Workspaces Using Partitions

Cubicles and Panel Systems. Depending on the unique requirements of each business or facility, there are several types of modular panel formats available. One of the most common is the work cubicle, an arrangement of partitions creating semi-enclosed workstations. The panels that make up cubicles can also be set up in panel systems customized for individual businesses. The wide variety of panel shapes and sizes provides innumerable possibilities. In addition, desk shields and modular screens can be configured to provide less risk of disease spreading, along with privacy.

Room Partitions. Room partitions and dividers are self-standing panels set up to form a visual barrier and partial sound barrier. They can be used between workstations, for establishment of meeting spaces, or to separate areas with different functions (i.e., workspace versus break areas). Decorative partitions and dividers can even be used to give space — like the reception area, for example — a more appealing aesthetic.

Benching Systems. Another type of office space arrangement comprised of modular partitions and dividers, benching systems consist of a desk, file storage bench and sometimes another file cabinet grouped together in an L-shaped workstation with extra storage and seating. Bench systems are often shared by two or more employees and can also include small desktop dividers. Generally, benching systems provide less overall workspace than cubicles.

Team Desks and Call Centers. Team desks are another type of open-concept workstation. Multiple employees sit around a single pod-like structure, with or without small desktop dividers that afford some privacy. This arrangement is meant to facilitate collaboration among team members. Call center arrangements also accommodate several workers in a given amount of space, although workstations are often linear, with higher, more substantial dividers to provide the sound barrier employees require to attend to callers.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Office Partitions

Choosing the type of partitions for an office space depends upon individual business needs, although there are a few basic, important things to keep in mind. The first is the composition of the partitions themselves. Most partitions are made of glass and aluminum. Businesses choosing partitions should give thought to how durable the material will need to be for their particular operation, as well as how it will affect the lighting of the space. As mentioned above, glass partitions allow for greater amounts of natural light from windows. Aesthetic preferences regarding the partition material should also be considered.

The amount of available space for partitions, number of employees to be accommodated and business-specific functional requirements are also fundamental factors in determining the quantity, types and sizes of panels needed or desired. A call center, for example, would need to ensure that they have enough partitions to make work areas for all their phone representatives. Other businesses might require panels to construct a private meeting area, or use partitions to set up efficient walking routes throughout the space as well as to and from exits.

Inherent in the use of modular partitions is their versatility, as mentioned earlier. Companies purchasing partitions and dividers are also wise to think ahead in terms of possible expansion or evolution of the business. It’s best to select modular partitions or units that are adaptable to eventual growth or restructuring so that the same products can be useful for the long run.


1. Groshek, N. (2018, February 26). The Complete Guide to Cubicles, Room Dividers & Partitions. National Business Furniture.

2. IMT. How Office Partitions Can Benefit Your Company.

3. Right-size Facility. (2020, September 3). Buying Office Partition Panels: What You Need to Know.

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