Buzzing wristbands, 1-way lanes, temperature checks: What will returning to work look like?

Workplace testing and tracing programs could become the norm, and hallmarks of open offices could become things of the past.


April 20, 2020

For some of us, putting on hard pants (or, let’s face it, any pants) to go to work feels like a throwback to the Olden Times of… last month. But someday, we will have to go back to the office.

It’s probably going to look a LOT different when we do.

Welcome to the socially distant workplace

Governments around the world are flirting with the idea of reopening their economies, and businesses are getting ready for when the day comes.

Widespread testing will be the key to safe reopenings. Protocol projected that employer-sponsored testing and tracing programs could become the norm in Silicon Valley.

The real-estate giants Cushman & Wakefield developed a concept for a 6 Feet Office at their Amsterdam HQ. The company has all sorts of ideas for encouraging you to keep your distance and keep things clean.

  • Think arrows on the floor that direct people to walk clockwise — and only clockwise — in one-way lanes.
  • Or paper desk placemats that you throw away when the day is done.
  • Or even plexiglass shields between desks that face each other.

At least in the short term, the days of cramming workers next to each other in rows of computer workstations are probably over.

It’s about more than just office feng shui

Your commute could look a lot different, and so could your interactions with your coworkers:

  • Bloomberg reported that employees who ride a shuttle to Unilever’s Shanghai offices must wear a mask and sit far apart.
  • Factory workers at Ford are testing out wristbands that buzz when people come within 6 feet of each other.
  • Mark Zuckerberg said last week that Facebook is canceling all in-person events with 50 or more people through June of next year (2021).

The biggest changes could involve things you can’t see

Amol Sarva, CEO of Knotel, a flexible office space company, told Bloomberg that America’s workplaces will be made “antiviral” — through things like stricter cleaning protocols and better ventilation.

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