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How your company office could change in the post-coronavirus era

Source | | Ellen Sheng

The battle between the states and the federal government is heating up about when to open the economy and start letting people go back to work due to the coronavirus. On Monday, Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC that employers need to have specific plans in place for how to safely return workers to the office or shopfloor.

“In an office, you could split your employees — have half of them work at home, half of them come into the office on alternating days,” Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” 

He added: “You should continue to encourage telework where you can.” 

Exactly when employees will be heading back to work is still an unknown, but what is certain is that when it does happen, things at the office will almost certainly be very different. Just as the pandemic is likely to have a lasting impact on our personal habits, it will also change the way we work. Among the key changes companies are already considering: more space, sanitation and flexibility, with more employees working from home on a semi-regular basis.

Fmr. FDA chief Gottlieb on practical steps businesses can take to reopen safely

So how will all this be achieved? According to a number of office designers, companies will be installing more sensors to reduce touch points, such as on light and power switches and door handles, antimicrobial materials, more and better air filtration, temperature monitoring at entry points, desks that are spaced farther apart, plus subtle design features that remind people to keep their distance. 

Transforming behavior through office design

Over the past month, commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield has helped 10,000 organizations in China move nearly 1 million people back to work after the country reopened its economy after the pandemic. Cushman & Wakefield, which manages 800 million sq. ft. of office buildings in China, learned much from that experience.

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