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The new normal for offices, workspaces after COVID-19

Posted at 7:55 AM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 07:55:58-04

NEW YORK — The office you left at the start of the coronavirus outbreak is likely not the office you will return to.

From alternating-desk seating and strictly assigned work spaces to one-way walkways and daily paper desk mats, employers are having to rethink their offices to ensure safety as employees begin to return to work in the coming months.

Commercial real estate giant Cushman & Wakefield has already designed and built a post-COVID office in the Netherlands called the "6 Feet Office," and it's coming to New York next.

The design uses circle markings on the floor to help people judge safe distances, has a one-way-only path through the offcie, fresh paper desk mats replaced daily, non-shared keyboards and more.

They've also designed worker safety plans for everything from staggered arrival times to organized elevator usage.

Bruce Mosler, Chairman of Global Brokerage for Cushman & Wakefield, explains this "will help reduce the traffic flow on mass transportation. That will also help reduce crowds developing in lobbies in buildings. Mosler said they've already done massive tests of their plans and protocols.

But there are still many unknowns for workers.

Essential worker David de Trolio has been working some days in his Bergen County office asan IT specialist. For other workers, who have solely been in the work-from-home mode, Trolio said "going back to work in some cases frightens them. It concerns them."

Sharing his expectations as people return to the office, Trolio said, "I think we will see a lot of closed doors, and I think initially everyone's going to be required to have a mask on, or a face covering. Also, we are going to see constant sanitation, constant cleaning."

And for everything workplaces are adding, there will be things missing from our former work lives.

It could be awhile before we see communal meeting spaces like cafeterias come back, as they pose a safety risk and are a liability for businesses.