What your office could look like after the coronavirus pandemic

As employees wonder what their post-coronavirus office will look like, some companies are beginning to answer some of those  questions.

At Cushman & Wakefield Stevenson in Winnipeg, for example, the real estate firm will be implementing what it’s calling the ‘6 Feet Office’, which was started at Cushman & Wakefield offices in the Netherlands.

The concept, of course, keeps employees at a six-foot distance from one another and includes a number of other measures to ensure a sanitary environment.

“If you’re going to attract and retain good people, they have to feel safe in the office environment,” Cushman & Wakefield Stevenson CEO Martin McGarry said.

The ‘6 Feet Office’ concept changes the look and feel of the office.

Entry points are controlled, desks are spaced out with glass shields in between and foot traffic is restricted to one-way paths.

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“There’s a massive amount of detail involved in getting people back to work,” McGarry said. “From wayfidning, where to stand, how many people in the elevator, walking clockwise, bathroom protocols, cleaning protocols, HVAC protocols.”

About 95 per cent of McGarry’s employees are currently working from home, but they might not all fit in the redesigned office, so he is anticipating up to 40 per cent of his staff will remain at home.

McGarry said the company is offering to help other businesses understand and implement the ‘6 Feet Office’, but can’t provide an estimated cost because all workspaces have different needs.

“It really depends on your office furnishings, your configuration, your densification,” he said.

Chuck Davidson, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce CEO, hopes government will help businesses with the cost of ensuring a safe workspace for employees.

“That’s a real challenge on business and part of the reason that we’ve been saying to the various levels of government, ‘You have to help businesses out in these measures,’” Davidson said.

Regardless of the approach, Davidson said companies must have a plan in place before welcoming staff back to the office.

“I’ve said it a million times, the last thing that we want is to have to go through this rebound again,” Davidson said.

Like many businesses, Stevenson isn’t sure when he will begin bringing employees back, but hinted at mid-summer, depending on the COVID-19 situation.

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