Office spaceGoodbye to the Crowded Office: How Coronavirus Will Change the Way We Work Together

Published 29 April 2020

As lockdowns are relaxed around the world and people return to their workplaces, the next challenge will be adapting open office spaces to the new normal of strict personal hygiene and physical distancing. Rachel Morrison writes in The Conversation that while the merits and disadvantages of open plan and flexible workspaces have long been debated, the risk they posed of allowing dangerous, highly contagious viruses to spread was rarely (if ever) considered. But co-working spaces are characterized by shared areas and amenities with surfaces that need constant cleaning. Droplets from a single sneeze can travel over 7 meters, and surfaces within pods or booths, designed for privacy, could remain hazardous for days. Perhaps—if vigilant measures are in place—some countries can continue to embrace collaborative, flexible, activity-based workplace designs and the cost savings they represent. But this is unlikely to be the case in general in the coming years. Even if some organizations can operate with minimal risk there will be an expectation they provide virus-free workplaces should there be future outbreaks.