What’s next after work from home?
That’s the question major office employers and real estate companies all over the country are trying to navigate.
Cushman & Wakefield has gone so far as to print a detailed “Recovery Readiness Guide” for its business customers.
Ran Holman, the Cushman & Wakefield managing principal who heads the Dallas office, said businesses are scrambling to figure out how to safely reopen their workplaces.
“We are fortunate for our clients the perspective we have in Asia and China,” Holman said. “We manage 800 million square feet in China.
“We have helped 10,000 companies go back to work,” he said. “There were a lot of lessons learned.”
The real estate firm’s checklist for companies includes:
—Preparing the building with cleaning plans, inspections and mechanical checks.
—Controlling the access with protocols for safety and health checks, building reception areas, deliveries and visitor policies.
—Creating a social-distancing plan with decreasing density and rethinking office traffic patterns.
—Reducing touch points and increasing cleaning by opening doors, cleaning common areas and using clean desk policies.
“We are preparing the building and preparing the workforce,” Holman said. “We have visual boundaries around workstations that give people an indication how close to get.
“We will have plexiglass barriers between workstations,” he said. “We have wayfinding in offices with one-way directions.”
These changes are a big turnabout from recent office space designs that emphasized closer quarters and more shared work areas.
COVID-19 will definitely dial back office densities.
“We are in rapid evolution right now in response to this,” Holman said.
Office building owners are understandably worried that some businesses may decide that a substantial number of their employees can continue to work from home when the pandemic is over.
“That could reduce demand for space,” Holman said. “At the same time, there is a pretty good argument we have reached an apex for density and because of the need for distance between employees, the office density will have to pull back.
“That will be a counterbalance for work for home.”