Just when you thought you had a handle on the trends in commercial space, boom. Everything changes—and commercial spaces may never be the same again. With new regulations and requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many of your customers need to make quick changes now. They also need to plan for uncertainty, which means making as many choices as possible with true flexibility in mind. It also means that you should explore product offerings that help your customers work quickly and provide safety to themselves and end-users.
Why does flexible power matter during COVID?
Social distancing remains a top priority for many commercial spaces. Facilities are transforming to accommodate lower population density. Both commercial offices and educational facilities are spreading desks and workstations apart. Some are installing partitions made of glass or plastic. Most are implementing hybrids of remote and in-person policies for students, visitors, and employees. Staggering schedules and temperature checks are also par for the course.
Every workstation needs a way to plug in equipment like computers, tablets, lab equipment, and more. But as we learn more each day about COVID-19 and its transmission, things change quickly. That means furniture will likely move around. If your customers need plenty of power connections, it’s smart to think about ways to make these connections as flexible as possible. Because many of these facilities need power sources near or on all of these workstations, they’re looking for options that can change as the new world evolves.
The pandemic tested commercial facilities like never before. Many were caught unprepared and forced to make radical changes very quickly in response to local and federal regulations. Flexible power has always been important, but it’s now an absolute must-have for every commercial space. Beyond the re-entry, facilities need to prepare for future challenges just like the pandemic. What will happen in the next six months, one year, five years, even ten years?
Sabrina Snyder, director of Wiremold product management, sums up how this unparalleled uncertainty requires truly flexible power: “Although no one can say for certain how the future will look, it is likely that the needs of commercial spaces will be vastly different and it’s best to prepare to adapt. After all, the first step is recognizing how to adapt—and that conversation can start now. It’s important for power solutions to be flexible enough to quickly install and uninstall. When they are, facilities can move connections to meet future needs, however they may shift due to new regulations and trends. No matter where these changes take us, the need for convenient power connections won’t be far behind.”
What are some flexible power solutions that I can offer my customers?
There are several options for truly flexible power that will make your job easier and help your customers.
- Furniture-based power units (www.legrand.us/solutions/furniture-power) can be installed and removed easily—right in tables or desks that are already there. Quick installation means that these spaces can remain truly flexible for whatever comes next, as the power units can pop in or out if the arrangement changes. Some of these options are single units, but there are also modular power systems where multiple units attach together. Depending on the scope of your project and the power needs, either option or a combination will work. For example, single furniture-based power units are great for end users to plug in their devices. If you need to run power to workstations for equipment and larger systems without construction or heavy installation, modular power is an ideal option. Combine the two and cover most power needs in the space.
- On-floor power delivery (www.connectrac.com) is another flexible option that can bring connections across spaces to the point-of-use. Many commercial spaces were designed with open floor plans that need to run power to workstations in the middle. Overfloor raceway and wireway systems offer large capacity runs that install on the floor. While they’re easy to install, they also don’t stick up. Most are designed with a low profile that’s commonly ADA compliant.
- Outdoor power (www.legrand.us/solutions/outdoor-power) is also increasing in popularity. More and more facility teams look to patios and outdoor break areas with great potential for extending social distancing outside. Adding power outlets and USB charging ports increases outdoor productivity because people can charge laptops and devices without heading in. There are several options available for outdoor power, including charging stations that are weather safe and can accommodate multiple connections.
How can I help my team do their job more efficiently with the pandemic in the background?
The most important thing you can do is start these conversations now with your customers.
Your customers are working with a variety of commercial spaces, including offices, schools, universities, healthcare facilities, hotels, and convention centers. All of these spaces need to consider building in flexibility from the start. They’ll need systems that don’t depend on static infrastructure and can easily (and quickly) expand as their needs change. Commercial spaces aren’t going away, but they may look different. Many of your customers feel unsure of how to move forward and prepare for ongoing changes, but you can discuss flexibility as a key component of their plans.
Now is the perfect time to ask any questions and explore solutions like flexible power. You can ask your customers questions like the following:
- What are you seeing in the industry?
- How are you handling what you see?
- What do you think will change?
- How can I help you?
Many commercial spaces moved to an open floor plan concept for the interior in recent years. It’s unlikely that commercial facilities will change from these floor plans, as it’s easy to make an open space work for many needs. Face-to-face collaboration may be different for a while, but eventually, we will make use of places like meeting rooms and break areas again. All spaces need to be safe, productive, and open to collaboration—even if we continue social distancing or remote work well into the future.
Flexible power solutions offer many benefits for your customers—and you. These solutions are easy to install and change, no matter what happens. They’re also scalable and relatively inexpensive, which helps many customers hit with negative impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.