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Design Talks: The Post-COVID Office

Design Talks: The Post-COVID Office

This month, we’re sitting down with Jeff Miller, Poppin’s Head of Design, to discuss the ways office design is changing in response to COVID-19. Read the interview to learn how WFH is changing, what new safety solutions are in the works, and what the “office of the future” might look like.


Q: How is Poppin using design to reflect the changes brought to work by COVID-19? 

A: Prior to COVID, we championed making working in the office easy and affordable. Now we can do the same for you at home with a calibrated authority. 

The forced success of working from home had made people realize it was always possible. Based on recent spikes of the coronavirus, it’s conceivable that people will stay home longer than they’d planned. The return to work isn’t going to be to a full-staffed situation; there will always be a WFH element that wasn’t on our radar before, whether it’s half the office or all of the office.

To that end, we’re prioritizing our brand-new sit/stand desk, which was supposed to give businesses an affordable and reconfigurable desk. Now it’s a way for people who are working from home to put together a standing desk in their own homes in a fraction of the time.

There are lots of personal products, desk accessories, and office products that Poppin is renowned for, and we're thinking about that, too. Many of our office products are very viable in the home, and we’ve been able to champion that for those who need more organization at home through our Corporate WFH Program.

We’re in the middle of a crazy time historically, and we’re figuring out how Poppin can address the changing concerns of society. Crisis always leads to better and more innovation than stagnation. 

There are other ways of thinking about the psychology of working from home that enables us to think outside the box—not just furniture for the office that translates to the home, but the whole picture. We’re in the middle of a crazy time historically, and we’re figuring out how Poppin can address the changing concerns of society. Crisis always leads to better and more innovation than stagnation.

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Q: How is home office design changing? 

Now that home offices need to be hardcore, all-day places to get some work done, Poppin is dealing with that challenge. There’ll be more performance required of work-from-home setups and more ergonomics associated with that. Sitting on a dining room chair or even a task chair that wasn’t designed for true work is causing people back pain and discomfort, so there are going to have to be some real performance-based task seating and desking solutions.

If you just take office products and put them in your home, there will be a disconnect; it doesn’t look homey. When we take high-performance products and put them in the home, they’ll need to be made with more of a home decor feeling than ever before.


Q: What do you think the "office of the future" will look like?


A: In six months, offices will look similar—they'll just have a lot of the fixes that we’ve proposed. In the short-term, it’s more about mediating the challenge and trying to keep social distance. While  many people don’t want to get back to the office, there are others who do want to get back so they have the camaraderie and social interactions that are so difficult to get at home.

Because of this hybrid work-style, I think the majority of interactions will still be digital as much as possible. That brings its own challenges, because everyone is going to be on video at their desk, talking and distracting each other. All of the challenges we sought to solve with PoppinPod phone booths are going to be amped up. 


Q: What 3 safety solutions are you most excited about at Poppin?


A: Our Rapid Office Reconfiguration service, where we rearrange offices for social distancing , is going to make for a much healthier environment with more space and room to breath.

I’m also excited we have the Protective Acrylic Shield solution for people and that we were able to roll them out so quickly and effectively. 

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In addition, our Social Distancing Decals were conceived to belong with the total Poppin aesthetic so you’re not putting together furniture and graphics piecemeal. It speaks to how we think about design—whether it’s a pen or a sofa or a safety solution, all of our products refer to each other. 

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