Glass conference rooms offer a sense of transparency and the ability to add light into your workspace. While they’re fairly common in many workplaces, you may be asking yourself if they’re right for your office. We’ve done the research for you and broken down everything you should know about the growing trend of glass conference rooms, so read on to find out more before making your decision.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using Glass in your Office?
Before you decide to install glass conference rooms, there is a lot of information you should consider. Let’s start by focusing on some important benefits and potential pitfalls to be mindful of as you consider options.
L’Essenziale, an interior design and lifestyle blog, has put together a list of three pros and cons related to glass conference rooms:
- More natural light
- Energy Savings
- Enhanced transparency
- Reduced privacy
- More distractions
- A feeling of being on display
Arnolds Furniture, a manufacturer of flexible workstations, also put together a list of pros and cons. While many of the items were similar to L’Essenziale, Arnolds Furniture determined some unique pros and cons:
- More open communication
- View of outdoors (When there are glass windows)
- Less secrecy
- No place to have a private conversation
- Noise levels
- Lack of regular doors
- People could potentially walk into glass if they don’t notice it
The Trend: What you Should Know About Glass Offices
Building Design and Construction Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to all aspects of the building industry including architecture, engineering and construction, devoted an entire 2017 article to the growing trend of glass in the workplace. Senior editor John Caufield wrote, “Over the past decade, the average size of offices has shrunk by 30%, to 175 sf per employee. That trend coincides with the growing popularity of interior glass for offices construction and renovation.”
Additionally, Caufield found, “In 2016, Gensler completed an 800,000-sf government project with thousands of offices, all with glass fronts…” It goes on to say, “Demountable interior glass provides owners and property managers with the flexibility to reconfigure office spaces quickly to accommodate manpower or tenant shifts, says Bill Bouchey, IIDA, Director of Interiors with HOK, based in the firm’s New York office. Some glass systems allow information to be written or projected onto them, further enhancing workplace connectivity. And interior glass is more durable and requires less maintenance than drywall.”
Types of Glass Conference Rooms
There are many different ways to incorporate glass into conference rooms. Avanti Systems, a company that designs, manufacturers and installs interior glass walls, put together the following list of five distinct types of glass conference rooms:
- Freestanding Conference Room Glass Walls
- Movable and Folding Glass Partitions
- LCD Privacy Smart Glass
- Frameless Conference Room Glass Walls
- Modular Partition System
It should be noted that glass conference rooms come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, the company Commercial Glass Partitions offers these different sized options:
- 5×8 Office Glass Room
- 6×8 Office Glass Room
- 8×8 Office Glass Room
- 8×10 Office Glass Room
- 10×10 Office Glass Room
- 10×12 Office Glass Room
How Much Will Glass Cost for my Workspace?
The cost of adding glass into your workspace depends on a variety of factors. That said, we did find a useful piece of information when it comes to pricing from Crystalia Glass, an architectural glass and metal company: “The average price range of a frameless glass partition will vary from $25 to $75 per square foot.”
If lack of privacy is your leading concern which is preventing you from installing glass into your office layout, t, you might want to consider so-called “smart glass.” Smart Glass Country is one company that offers this solution: “Smart Film and Smart Glass go from transparent to opaque with the flick of a switch, providing privacy on demand. Switchable PDLC film is applied to existing glass while switchable glass is installed just like regular glass.”
There are other types of technology that can even block people outside of a glass conference room from reading screens inside the conference room. Smart window system Kinestral wrote a piece highlighting several different options for ensuring security and privacy: “There are architectural films such as Designtex’s Casper that allow light and visibility into the glass but blocks information on LCD and LED screens.”
Complying With Regulations
To prevent accidents of employees or clients walking into the glass, visible markings with a gap between them of no more than 400mm is a legal requirement for building regulations including the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). These markings can easily become a design feature, for example using a frosted pattern, such as stripes, or even your own company’s logo.
Using Glass in the Post COVID Work Environment
Could glass barriers in conference rooms help to break up open floor plans as people return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic?
A recent Harvard Business Review article found, “…leaders should aim for a path-breaking strategy: creating behavioral protocols and built environments that break transmission paths.” The article continues, “While social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, and wiping down surfaces make those workplaces safer, limiting the spread of the virus depends on identifying and disrupting systems of connections. It will require mapping out transmission networks and breaking key links in those networks, a strategy quite similar to the one the intelligence community has long used to break up illegal networks.”
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