Bermuda Post

Sunday, Sep 20, 2020

What offices might look like as America returns to work

What offices might look like as America returns to work

We're starting to see glimpses of what going back to work in offices after months at home will look like. In short: say goodbye to snack jars and office gyms.

It'll be a long process to return to the reality that America's workers knew before the pandemic. Some of the work-related changes triggered by the coronavirus will last a few weeks, and others will be permanent.

Several big companies have released their plans for bringing employees back — and, taken together, these blueprints help us picture how working in a post-pandemic office will feel. To start, most companies are still maintaining that employees should work from home unless they have a compelling reason to go to the office.

  • Salesforce will have employees fill out health surveys and, if they have good enough reasons to use the office, they'll be allowed to do so in set shifts — and they'll get regular health screenings, reports the New York Times.

  • Cloudflare is soliciting petitions from employees who want to return and it's picking the direst cases.

And a slew of companies are going to reopen, but with emptier, lonelier offices — and without perks that employees have grown to love.

  • Facebook is capping capacity at 25%, per Bloomberg.

  • Facebook, Salesforce and Apple are all asking employees to wear masks and maintain social distancing in the office.

  • There'll be no more giant jars of gummy bears at Salesforce and no more massages at Google.

  • Google and Facebook are both closing gyms and changing their cafeterias from buffet-style dining to grab-and-go boxes, per Business Insider.

But even with all the extra precautions, companies are nervous about moving too quickly.

  • In a recent PwC survey, 59% of CFOs — from a pool that represented every major industry in the country — said a second coronavirus wave was their top business concern.

  • Without widespread testing or a vaccine, executives are leaning toward extending their work-from-home timelines for employees, Amity Millhiser of PwC said during a call with reporters Monday.

The survey also found that a greater acceptance of remote work has been one of the clearest changes in the U.S. since the pandemic began. 54% of CFOs said they wanted to make telecommuting permanent in this June survey, up from 43% in early May.

The bottom line: Things at work won't be the same for a long, long time. As Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff put it on a call describing his company's plans, “It’ll be more sterile. It’ll be more hospital-like.”


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