The pandemic left many employers scrambling to provide a safe working environment for office workers returning to work. Offices had to make physical changes to keep employees apart and personal protective equipment had to be provided for those office employees that needed it. Workers now had to wear visors or masks, shared workspaces had to be shielded with plexiglass dividers and narrow corridors had to be converted into one way aisles indicated by arrows and if possible it was necessary to have more open doors into the office.
Washrooms had to be refigured, every other stall closed off and the number of employees allowed in the washroom at one time to be reduced. In-office meetings would have to change format, they would be smaller and had to be held in larger boardrooms or in common areas with better air circulation. Some companies invested in anti-microbial spray to coat surfaces and desks to protect from bacteria build-ups. With all these changes offices would definitely look and feel very different.
The biggest change was the number of employees that returned to the office. The two metre physical distance rule mean't that there had to be fewer bodies in the office at any one time. Most offices had only had 20-25% of their employees return to work in the first phase of the return to work and Samantha Sanella from Cushman and Wakefield believes that up to 30% of employees will never return to the office without a vaccine.
Sanella believes that there will be a return to the private walled in offices instead of the open concept style of office. Although these type of offices take up more space and are more expensive to build many companies will make the changes to keep their critical workers safer. As the overall office space will be smaller they will have some workers continue to work from home.
These changes in office format will result in prospective tenants changing their criteria when looking for new office space. They are going to be more focused on the health certifications of the space and new office spaces may have a new look with more open windows and outdoor space.
Despite these necessary changes experts believe that offices will survive. Even though people are working from home they want to return to the office and have a connection other employees.
From an article by Adrienne Tanner
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