What Happens When We Return to the Office?

Originally published on May 18, 2020 by Elizabeth Brink and Arnold Levin

At Gensler, we’ve been thinking hard about how to help our clients through these extraordinary times. As we’ve adjusted to the strange reality of the global work-from-home experiment, our clients have begun to ask what the future of work holds post-pandemic.

In order to move forward, we must rethink past workplace design paradigms, mine the present situation for lessons learned, and create smart, scenario-based road maps for how, and when, we return to the office.

The Workplace Context

We will eventually return to the workplace, but we may never return to “normal.” The pandemic is fundamentally challenging our ideas of workplace best practices. Will tech companies still seek to densify the workplace through open benching and shared collaboration spaces? Will law and entertainment firms double down on private offices? Will tenants still seek rich amenity offerings with enhanced cleaning and security protocols?

We cannot yet predict how the current crisis will affect workplace planning and priorities in the future, but we do know that many of the pre-pandemic workplace drivers will be rigorously challenged in moving forward.

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