SAN FRANCISCO — The modern corporate office is renowned for open, collaborative work spaces, in-house coffee bars and standing desks with room for two giant computer monitors.
Soon, there may be a new must-have perk: the sneeze guard.
This plexiglass barrier that can be mounted on a desk is one of many ideas being mulled by employers as they contemplate a return to the workplace after coronavirus lockdowns. Their post-pandemic makeovers may include hand sanitizers built into desks that are positioned at 90-degree angles or that are enclosed by translucent plastic partitions; air filters that push air down and not up; outdoor gathering space to allow collaboration without viral transmission; and windows that actually open, for freer air flow.
The conversation about how to reconfigure the American workplace is taking place throughout the business world, from small start-ups to giant Wall Street firms. The design and furniture companies that have been hired for the makeovers say the virus may even be tilting workplaces back toward a concept they had been moving away from since the Mad Men era: privacy.
The question is whether any of the changes being contemplated will actually result in safer workplaces.