via Fast Company: Click Here
By, Mark Wilson, Fast Company 04-13-20
It’s hard to imagine now—as most of us are reading this in quarantine, with our feet propped on Costco boxes of spaghetti noodles—but we will one day have to go back to our offices. COVID-19 won’t be eradicated, and not everyone will be immune. But we’ll still be expected to sit at a desk and work. So how will work…work?
That’s the question that commercial real estate company Cushman & Wakefield is answering already, because in the past month, the company has helped 10,000 organizations in China move nearly one million people back to work. Using learnings gathered in China, along with World Health Organization data and the advice of medical specialists, the firm developed a new concept inside its own Amsterdam headquarters dubbed the Six Feet Office. It’s both a working laboratory and a showroom for the firm’s clients meant to call attention to how people might safely go back to work in offices (which is, of course, in Cushman & Wakefield’s financial interest).
Jeroen Lokerse, head of Cushman & Wakefield in the Netherlands, led a rapid, one-week redesign of the company’s own office space to encourage better hygiene and social distancing. The core premise is to ensure that six feet, the recommended measurement for safe social distancing, stays between people at all times. This behavior is encouraged through properly spaced desks, but also visual signals, such as a circle embedded in the carpeting around each desk to ensure people don’t get too close.
“[We’re] using design to nudge behavior,” says Despina Katsikakis, head of Occupier Business Performance at Cushman & Wakefield. “And part of this is, how we shift very ingrained behaviors and expectations of how we work.”
Using arrows on the floor, people are also encouraged to walk clockwise, and only clockwise, in lanes around the office. This one-way traffic is the same approach that healthcare workers take in hospitals to help avoid the spread of pathogens. Each morning, employees are also asked to grab a paper placemat for their desk. At the end of the day, the paper is thrown away, which could help mitigate some contact-based spread of COVID-19 on office surfaces.
Cushman & Wakefield is even installing beacons into its office, which track the movements of employees throughout the space via their phones. Those beacons will be a way for the company to audit the efficacy of its own design—did people get too close or not?—and they may be used to audibly alert people when they break the invisible six-foot barrier. (Yes, to anyone who works outside an office management company, this sounds extremely invasive.)