How COVID will change your office

Infection control a goal of office of the future
Posted at 7:15 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-04 22:15:32-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - When coronavirus closures finally come off, a lot of us will return to workplaces the virus transformed. They’ll be changed to reduce the chance of a renewed outbreak. KGUN9 On Your Side asked a leader in Tucson commercial real estate to describe the office of the future.

For well over a month most of us have been working outside our offices to reduce the chance we’ll carry the virus in. Offices will reopen eventually but with a lot of changes

The open office arrangement has been common---desks fairly close together without barriers in-between. Barbi Reuter leads a large commercial real estate company called PICOR.

She says companies are re-thinking workspace to reduce the chance of spreading infections.

“We've also already seen some of the screening in grocery stores or clear plastic screening and some of that between workstations and spacing workstations and out, are the more inexpensive and readily accessible things to do then completely reconfiguring a space.”

PICOR is affiliated with an international real estate firm called Cushman and Wakefield. Reuter says that company has already learned from the challenge of re-opening offices in China and created a resource page to help companies build safety and infection control into plans to reopen their workplaces.

She says companies are changing meeting rooms to avoid densely packed meetings, considering one-way traffic patterns to keep people from walking too close to each other, and revising work schedules to reduce the people in the building.

Reuter says, “That may look like staggered start times, it may look like shifts, it may look like you're on an “A” schedule, “B” schedule where the “A” people work in the office. One week and at home the following.

She says some businesses may reduce the space they lease as they shift to more work at home but others may lease more to put more space between workers.

Reuter thinks the first changes will emphasize safety but once a vaccine is found employers will start using other lessons they learned from the lockdown about who’s more efficient at home and who’s better off in the office.