Bringing workers back to an office environment will take some creative planning by companies, revolving around continued social distancing measures put in place during the coronavirus pandemic.
Big commercial real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, which manages about 55 million square feet of office space in the D.C. region, is already coming up with potential designs it calls The 6 Feet Office. It’s part of the firm’s new Recovery Readiness Task Force to help prepare landlords and tenants for post-COVID-19 recovery.
In China, Cushman & Wakefield is currently moving 10,000 companies and nearly 1 million workers back into more than 1,000 office buildings, and is using its experiences there to develop plans for other locations.
It has also redesigned its own office space in Amsterdam, incorporating design elements such as bold, round carpet shapes that serve as a distancing cue, architectural barriers that help control the flow of office workers, and visually displayed foot traffic routing.
Other features of the 6 Feet Office include clear shields between workstations, and a set of simple and workable agreements and rules for employees, such as always walking the office clockwise, entering and leaving meeting rooms as indicated, and replacing desk pads daily.
“The virus will dictate when we can eventually return to places of work and commerce, but the time to prepare is now,” said John Forrester, executive chair of Cushman & Wakefield’s Recovery Readiness Task Force.
“We are mobilizing our thought leaders and experts, drawing on their experience in areas like workplace innovation and strategy, design and build, facilities management, commercial cleaning protocols, data and technology, and research,” Forrester said.