COVID-19 has transformed work. It could revolutionize the office next
Over the last decade, there’s been a marked shift in many office environments in metro Detroit.
Some companies based in spacious suburban offices with ample parking spaces moved to smaller and more expensive locations in downtown Detroit. Parking came in the form of packed garages, but these sacrifices were mostly considered justifiable because of the area’s walkability and proximity to new and trendy restaurants and bars that catered to the working professional crowd.
Inside, the offices generally had open environments where coworkers sat close together. Designer kitchens were stocked with snacks and areas for colleagues to mingle.
The coronavirus could change that.
Temporary changes have already begun, or will soon, from installing dividers between desks, restricting access to kitchens and other common areas and putting up signage about mask-wearing, hand washing and maintaining social distancing.
But some longer-term changes have already started, commercial real estate firms say, whether it’s leasing more space to accommodate for social distancing or companies considering leasing spaces in the suburbs if their employees don’t feel safe in the city.
Commercial real estate and architecture firms say it’s still early on in the pandemic and attitudes may change after there’s a vaccine, but they say COVID-19 is accelerating trends that were already in motion.
“Nothing is going away, but a lot is changing,” said Lisa Sauve, CEO of Synecdoche Design Studio in Ann Arbor, an architecture firm that designs workspaces, among other spaces.
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