Workers Won’t Return To The Same Office Space They Left

Mar 18, 2021 | UV-C

People who work from their homes might have to do so only for a while and when the government requests their return, they should go back to their previous offices and on their return, it will likely be to a changed office space environment.

Some of the changes that will be made to the office spaces will include the renovation of doors and elevators that do not need to be touched to operate, fewer chairs in common areas and fewer common areas period, Vox reports.

“I think we’ll see wider corridors and doorways, more partitions between departments and a lot more staircases,” Zaha Hadid Architects principal Arjun Kaicker told the Guardian.

Other changes will be less visible to the eye, but part of many 2020s offices all the same, such as antimicrobial fabrics and regular wipe-downs of highly touched surfaces, according to Vox. Ultraviolet germicidal lights as part of HVAC systems, which isn’t a new technology, might also catch on in a bigger way.

The Open-plan office space, which is now recently the wave of the future, could soon be long forgotten and become a distant memory as office spaces are now marked by dividers and punctuated by private rooms.

“There’ll be a lot of thoughts about employee density,” Empire State Realty Trust CEO Anthony Malkin said on a Bisnow webinar last week. “The WeWorks of the world, Convene, Industrious, they get called out for their coworking, but there are a tremendous number of tenants who have deployed benching when you have 2,3 feet between people.”

As long ago as 2013, Danish research found that people in an open-plan office space took more sick days, possibly because pathogens spread more easily in open offices. This is one of the many criticisms as regards the open plan office space.

Other criticisms of open offices included the noise and a purported lowering of productivity and still, none of these were enough to stop the trend until the novel coronavirus came along.

Now coworking specialists are faltering. WeWork has consistently lost money for years , long before the coronavirus pandemic showed up but it has reportedly stopped paying rent at some of its locations and is renegotiating leases, as is competitor Knotel.

What will replace the open office is a commonly asked and open question, but designers are taking a stab at it.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Amsterdam office is currently testing what it calls the “Six-Feet Office” which features desks, separated by transparent shields as well as marked floors to keep people apart and then the disposable desk pads.

“In the next four to six to eight weeks, as people begin to go back to work, companies aren’t going to have the time or the ability to remodel offices,” Cushman & Wakefield CEO Brett White told the Wall Street Journal.

The goal of Cushman & Wakefield’s Six-Feet Office is to make offices more habitable and comfortable to work in, while longer-term adjustments to designs are made. It has also established a post-pandemic recovery task force.