The end of an open plan? Planning for the post-pandemic office

Updated: Jun 21

The global pandemic has changed the way billions of people live and work around the world. Understanding just how many of these changes will become permanent is critical in the way businesses adapt and innovate, in the hope of creating a more positive long-term impact.


One thing that we can say with certainty is that ‘back to normal’ in the workplace is going to mean a lot more flexibility and strategic thinking. Companies are already working hard to conceptualise just how the post-pandemic workplace might look and function.


Across the industry, we’re seeing a stark reversal in the trend for hot desking and the increase of office density by pushing staff ever closer together. But could one big idea, built on an appreciation for the "6 feet rule", prove critical in returning to everyday working life?


The Six Feet Office is a workplace design concept developed by Cushman & Wakefield and based on the golden principle of keeping a safe distance at work - six feet to be precise.


Keeping areas around desks empty, colour zoning the floor space and making conscious decisions on traffic flows is all part of the Six Feet Office concept - every detail designed to maximise user safety.


Investing in smarter office designs will give companies a chance to rethink how their workforce interact and utilize their environment. Even something as simple as arranging staff to work side-by-side or facing away from each other, rather than face-to-face, can be a big step in mitigating the risk of transmission.


Likewise, low touch fixtures, one-way corridors and clear glass partitions may all become office standards after stay-at-home orders are lifted, according to occupational experts. Better air filtration, as with Yoma Central’s HEPA-based system, can help to limit the spread of disease while also providing other health and productivity benefits.


The challenge is now upon us as developers to seize this opportunity to create the safer, healthier and more open workplaces of tomorrow.


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