There’s a good chance the novel coronavirus has changed office life permanently. John Furneaux, CEO of Hive, a New York City-based workplace software start up, says, “This is going to be a catalyst for things that people were too scared to do before. [The pandemic] gives added [momentum] to allow us and others to make changes to century-old working practices.”
One major change is that many will likely begin working from home permanently as the practice becomes more accepted and health concerns still linger. For everybody else, changes will start with the commute as workers arrive in staggered shifts to avoid rush hour crowds, and staff might take turns working alternate days in the office to reduce crowding. In offices, precautions like floor markings or digital sensors could remind people to stand six feet apart, and cubicles might even make a comeback.
At large companies, senior executives are already rethinking cramming downtown offices with thousands of workers. And Google and Facebook have already announced they are letting employees work remotely until the end of the year. Other firms have realized they do not even need an office. Many of these changes are expected to remain in place even after the pandemic ends, as companies prepare for potential new disease outbreaks or other emergencies.