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A Buyer's Guide to Office Panels and Partitions

In this article, we'll talk about the growing popularity of panels, which can prevent the spread of germs and offer long-term benefits. We'll explain the different types of panels, and provide some guidelines on what criteria to consider when shopping for panels.

As the return to offices looms ahead of us, everyone from workplace managers to architects has been faced with the same difficult question: How do we create an office that will be safer in the short-run and remain functional and productive in the long-run? There are many quick and important adjustments that can be made to ensure a healthier work environment today, such as temperature checks, rotating shifts, and daily cleanings. One adaptation, though, that might require more investment is the addition of panels and partitions between workstations.
Panels already exist as a workplace staple for many. And while they are certainly an important building block for a COVID-prepared office, their benefits go well beyond helping to prevent the spread of viruses. In this article, we’ll dive into both the short and long-term benefits of panels, the different varieties on the market, and what to consider when purchasing them for your office.

Short and Long-Term Benefits of Panels

According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Employer Information for Office Buildings, before reopening your office you should “install transparent shields or other physical barriers where possible to separate employees and visitors where social distancing is not an option.” What’s more, as explained by the FDA, Covid-19 is transmitted “typically through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking.” Using physical barriers is thus one way to help stop those droplets from traveling between workers– hence how some panels have now been called “sneeze guards.”
The short-term appeal (and requirement) of panels is easy to understand: more barriers result in less transmission of germs, which results in a lower likelihood that the virus can spread in your office. However, privacy panels have served an important purpose in offices long before companies faced Covid-19 risks. Therefore, when considering them as part of your office’s reopening plan, it’s also beneficial to consider their long-term benefits, which include:


Panels are a great way to offer privacy and a small sliver of seclusion in a workplace era defined by open and public floor plans, which can be intimidating to some. Don’t overlook the value of giving your workers the ability to create a slightly more personal space for themselves.

Mental health

Open office spaces have increasingly been criticized for creating a stressful environment, as any employee’s work can be on display for countless others to see. Giving workers a space that is blocked off can provide them with a chance to decompress and center themselves throughout the day, before big meetings, in between projects, etc.


The ability to focus is a huge determinant of productivity, and panels can help eliminate visual distractions and decrease the amplification of voices. reports that over 90 minutes a day are lost because of distractions in the workplace; improving employees’ focus is a no-brainer investment.

Longstanding prevention

Panels don't just help stop the spread of Covid-19; they also work to protect workers against other common germs and illnesses. It's easy to forget that there are plenty of other illnesses we need to be mindful of, and many, such as the flu, strep, and even the common cold, spread through droplets.

Types of Panels

When shopping for panels, you’ll likely come across a wide variety of terms: partitions, dividers, sneeze guards, shields, and more. While there isn’t a unified consensus on what constitutes each type of panel, we’ve been keeping track of trends and have identified four distinct categories to help you make sense of it all:
Partition: Usually used to reference a lengthwise panel (and an amazing Beyoncé song) on a table or desk. They are typically integrated beside and around workstations, as opposed to being installed directly on them. You can select lengths that are best for sitting or standing at a desk.
Dividers: These are generally width-wise panels and are set on a table or desk. They can be installed on the outer edge of a desk, on the left and right sides, or both.
Sneeze guards: Usually made of acrylic or another see-through material, used to cover the face/upper body in face-to-face interactions with others (used by cashiers, for example). Sneeze guards are more applicable to retail locations or building lobbies as opposed to a traditional office workplace.
Panels: A catch-all phrase that references any sort of shield used to separate open office spaces into smaller, semi-open workstations.

Criteria for Choosing the Right Panels

There can be a lot to consider when purchasing panels for your workspace. And it certainly doesn’t help that there’s been little education of these products in the market. While every office has its own unique needs, we recommend you consider the following four criteria as you shop for panels:


If you are buying panels to install in your furnished office space, you’re likely after a solution that offers a wide range of customization options when it comes to size, color, and material. Unfortunately, many furniture brands only sell panels that are compatible with their own desks, and that come in limited varieties. Thus, it’s critical that you choose a panel provider that offers plenty of customization, as well as adaptability around the workstations you already have installed.


It’s always important to consider form and function when you’re shopping for furniture, but it’s especially necessary with panels. If you choose an option that’s made out of a flimsy material or difficult to install, you’ll end up losing the benefits we discussed earlier. Make sure your panels are made out of high-quality fabrics/materials that filter noise, provide ample privacy, won’t stain, and are easy to clean.


Purpose-built panels should be easily adaptable and configurable; however, many choices on the market are cemented in their usage––only functional for one type of layout. You want panels that, in essence, work like Legos: each piece has the ability to connect with others, without the need for a toolkit, so that you can integrate your dividers and partitions into your unique space as you see fit. Thus, when searching for the proper solution, modularity should be a critical component of your purchasing criteria.


You might be in the dark when it comes to panel pricing––it’s certainly not a product you encounter every month, or even every year. When browsing options, you’ll likely see a wide range of prices depending on the materials used, the size of the panels, the level of customization, and the fees associated with delivery and installation. Some very basic options are available for as low as $70, while larger, more elaborate designs can run into the thousands. As a rule of thumb, you should never have to spend more than $200-300 on an individual panel to get an exceptional product. When you make your budget, we suggest you consider which criteria are the most important to you, how many panels you’ll need, and how important it is that you can install them quickly. This will help you to decide what’s worth the money.
If you’re looking to invest in panels for your workspace, you won’t need to look much further. Our new collection of panels and partitions designed by boutique furniture and design brand, Emblem, feature a unique, modular design and come in a variety of colors and sizes so that you can integrate them seamlessly into your office. They adapt to any brand of furniture, and were called “an easy, affordable, and modular way to add structure and privacy to the open office” by WorkDesign. We offer competitive, transparent pricing, with faster shipping than other major players. Plus, we use high quality, eco-friendly materials like PolyMax™, which dampens office noise. In sum, they are built to function in the long-run rather than merely provide a quick fix for returning to your office in the near future.
Interested in getting a set of panels specially curated for your office? Contact us here, or visit our collection page. 

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