Another basic step to lower risk, Dr. Winston said, is simply having “fewer people in a space.” That is a concept that runs counter to the workplace zeitgeist of the past two decades. The embrace of open floor plans stretches back to the first dot-com boom in the late s. It was hailed as essential to collaboration and creativity, but is, of course, also about cramming more people into expensive office space, a situation that people now create unnerving petri-dish conditions.
“We can’t ask employees.” to come back to the same office, ”he said. “Companies feel we have to address the root fear.”
For now, that may mean no more shared desks (a concept in the business world known as “hoteling”), elbow-to-elbow seating or cafes where people congregate to chat about a project over a fruit water or hazelnut latte. It could mean more use of materials, like copper, that are less hospitable to germs, and reconfiguring ventilation systems that flow air from the ceiling down rather than the floor up, which is considered safer.
Mobify , a Vancouver company that builds online storefronts for major retailers like Under Armor and Lancôme, has 80 employees who share space with other start-ups. It’s the epitome of the st century workplace with side-by-side desks in a row, sans partitions, and open space for a total of 392 people at full capacity to congregate for meetings, or for playing Ping-Pong and pool.
- Now, Igor Faletksi, the company chief executive, said, “It’s less about fun and more about safety. ”
“Huge buffets?” he said, “forget about that for now.” . Faletksi is contemplating allowing more employees to work from home and even moving headquarters to a new building with better air circulation.