What will the return to work look like?

It has been a curious time, to say the least. Still, it has been an excellent time to have a different type of interaction and conversation with our clients and candidates. An interesting topic has been what will it be like getting back to the ‘norm’? Not the new norm, the old one!


For some of us, putting on trousers to go to work feels like a throwback to the good old times of… well, March! But someday, in the not so distant future, we will have to go back to the office.


The thing is, it’s probably going to look a LOT different when we do.



Welcome to the socially distant workplace!


Governments all over the globe are currently flirting with the idea of reopening their economies, some even look intent on forcing it. Businesses are now getting ready for when the day eventually comes.


The common theme from the experts seems to be the need for extensive testing, and that will be the solution to safe reopenings. America, in particular, Silicon Valley are talking about employer-sponsored testing and tracing programs. Over in Europe, Cushman & Wakefield have developed a concept for a 6ft Office at their Amsterdam HQ. They have come up with various ideas to encourage you to keep your distance and just as importantly keep things clean. Suggestions have been arrows on the floor that direct people to walk clockwise – and only clockwise – in one-way lanes.


Other ideas are paper desk mats that you can throw away when the day is done just like the table mats you find in restaurants that may serve you a bucket of wings! 


Reverting back against the trend of open-plan offices by installing fibreglass partitions coworkers that face each other have been discussed.

The days of cramming coworkers in rows of workstations are probably over, for now at least.



There’s more to it than just your fancy office feng shui


The commute (remember them!) could look a lot different, and so could the way you interact with your coworkers:

  • Employees who ride a shuttle to Unilever’s Shanghai offices must now wear a mask and sit far apart
  • Workers in the factory of car giant Ford are testing out wristbands that buzz (not electrocute) when staff come within 6ft of each other
  • Mark Zuckerberg was reported to say that Facebook has cancelled all in-person events that have 50+ people through June 2021
The most significant changes could involve things you can’t see


Again, in America they are talking about their workplaces will be made ‘antiviral’ – through things like stricter cleaning protocols and better ventilation. Sounds like there could be a spike in requirements for the HVAC industry!