26 Return-to-Workplace Solutions for the Post-Covid Office

What will a post-Covid workplace look like?

It is difficult to give a meaningful answer to such a weighty question when the experiences, responses, and protocols for dealing with a global pandemic, let alone recovering from one, vary greatly from nation to nation, city to city, and person to person.

Thought experiments are certainly interesting, but the question above needs a secondary question, “And what can we do to try to make that a reality?”, to help anchor it to reality.

We recently asked architecture firms to tell us a bit about their own workplace reopening plans with the goal of gaining some real-world concepts that have been put into practice by designers themselves.

This week we are casting a much wider net and have received 25+ responses from firms and manufacturers around the world in order to compile a variety of strategies that have been developed, implemented, or are currently in the works. 

Imagery, graphics, floorplans, and drawings have been included in order to paint a better picture of how businesses are looking to build and design a post-Covid workplace.

DZAP, The Netherlands – 6 Feet Office

We have launched the 6 Feet Office concept to help companies to prepare for the return to their offices in times of COVID.

Most important of our concept are The Safe 6. These are 6 rules that need to be followed to keep everyone safe in the office. But how do you get everyone to stick to the rules? By making it fun!

That’s why all employees are told and constantly reminded what to do in a cheeky kind of way 😉

We even created a Starters Kit, which everyone receives when they return to their offices for the first time. Just to get everyone equipped and informed on how we roll these days.

Kinzo, Germany – DiSco

The corona crisis has turned the world upside down: it is important to keep your distance while working as effectively as ever – an enormous challenge. Kinzo’s answer to this, is the development of a ‘first aid kit‘. The idea is to enable a rapid re-entry into regular operations in the open office, while safely supporting teamwork and a sense of community: the DiSco (“DistantCommunity”).

Transparent, mobile and quick to set up, the DiSco is not only a temporary necessity to comply with the distance and hygiene rules, but also a useful addition to your working environment in the longterm.

The protective shield can be up- graded to a soundproofing element with additional acoustic surfaces. The shields fit all common table formats and table types: individual workstations, height-adjustable tables, benches or combined solutions.

Amenta Emma Architects, Connecticut – Connecticut Innovations Office

Connecticut Innovations is a quasi-public venture capital agency supporting technology entrepreneurs and other growth industries in Connecticut. Though their focus is on innovation, collaboration and making connections, the confidential nature of much of their work led to the need for enclosed offices and conference rooms in their new space in New Haven, which was designed by Amenta Emma Architects and completed in March–just before COVID-19 shut down workplaces in the state. Glass walls (which can, in one case, be opened to combine spaces) strike a balance of transparency and privacy within an exposed, high-ceiling, semi-industrial environment. The organization had no idea that this design would be so well suited to occupying the new space during a pandemic. Amenta Emma helped Connecticut Innovations create a return-to-work plan, providing complete isolation for employees, as well as small, socially distanced meetings when needed.

Archie Bolden, Brisbane – NOUS Office

The space planning of the NOUS office seamlessly enforces the idea of social distancing with ample space but encourages the idea of collaboration through purposefully designed glass partitions. The health of the environment is an important concept in today’s consideration of office design.

Figure3, Toronto – Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation Office

To help The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation’s staff return to their office safely and effectively, Figure3 engaged in an extensive process of information gathering, analysis and establishing new guidelines.

Figure3 analyzed surveys which were provided by PMCF to assess their programming needs, including density requirements and refined head counts.

Then, using existing floorplans, physical distancing measures were evaluated to determine appropriate occupant loads, including furniture and equipment, meeting spaces, shared spaces, and travel paths to manage circulation in the 55K square foot space.

New Guidelines and a rollout plan were then provided for an implementation strategy, including best practices for policies and protocols such PPE requirements, cleaning/sanitization stations, technology and furniture changes, new signage and wayfinding, and staff training, with floorplans to illustrate these new policies and protocols.

Figure3 also developed a programming tool to help the client evolve the densities as the program moves forward, and as more people are prepared to return to the office.

Massive Design, Poland – Six Feet Office

In local cooperation with Massive Design, Cushman & Wakefield is introducing Six Feet Office in multiple Global 100 companies on polish market.

“Due to Covid-19 pandemic office safety has never been as important as it is now. We observe that offices that haven’t adapted are more likely to stay empty due to users not wanting to risk their health. A potential solution to that may be the Six Feet Office standard created by Cushman and Wakefield. One of the first steps is to design layouts based on safe distances between workstations, seating in meeting rooms or other common areas. However, it is also about understanding how people move around the office so we can rethink and redesign the circulation to ensure proper social distancing.”

-Jan Paweł Ramatowski – Space Planning Director, Massive Design

“We look at human behaviours inside the office from a completely different angle, where comfort and certain habits must give way to employee safety. We closely cooperate with office/facility/EHS managers on how to reorganize common areas like: entrance zones to the offices, meeting spaces, social areas, copy points, toilets etc. One of the results of this planning is visual signage that clearly communicates to the employees how to move around the office, but also how to use the space in the new reality. Having clear rules that are communicated to employees via different channels is the key to successful implementation.”

-Aleksander Szybilski – Head of Workplace Strategy in Poland, Cushman and Wakefield

Eastlake Studio, Chicago – Eastlake Studio Office

“As a firm, Eastlake is focused on workplace design. As soon as we began working from home in mid-March, we assigned our entire staff to research different aspects of the workplace so we could better understand how to make offices feel safe and promote wellness. In fact, less than a month later, we published that research on our website and have been updating it as new information is discovered. While working on several workplace projects that required a strong wellness perspective, we have also looked closely at our own studio, applying some simple and immediate ways we could encourage safety and wellness, while avoiding costly irreversible changes.

After the 4th of July, we implemented an occupancy schedule that enables our staff of 29 to work in the studio every third week, while allowing anyone that doesn’t feel comfortable coming in to continue remote work. This reduced density has been effective at making everyone that comes in feel safe. We also created special wellness areas in larger rooms with posted reduced capacity, where staff can work if they need to be in the studio during an off week. We ask that everyone wear masks as they move about the studio, as well.

In addition to our reduced density strategy, we also crafted simple branded signage to communicate our wellness guidelines. We don’t have a formal reception area, so we installed a freestanding doorbell that blocks entry into the studio, asking messengers and visitors to wait in the hall until a staff member greets them. Along with new sanitizing stations, the signage communicates hygiene instructions and room capacity in our casual, non-threatening branding vibe. It’s a challenge, but we believe our thoughtful approach is consistent with both our culture and the medical community’s guidelines.

Eastlake is a very social group. While working from home, everyone has missed the spirit of the studio that comes with personal interaction. After recently enjoying an intimate leadership dinner on our expansive outdoor deck (with proper distancing and face coverings), we decided to host small weekly team dinners on the deck so everyone could rediscover personal connections we all have missed. It’s not perfect, but we feel our approach captures the spirit of our studio and have found it to be largely successful.”

-Tom Zurowski – Principal | AIA, Eastlake Studio

Olson Kundig, Seattle – Olson Kundig Office

“Over the years, we have designed a number of installations that allow us to adapt and reconfigure our office gathering spaces to accommodate a variety of uses, from all-office gatherings to small group work sessions. We are now finding that these areas work well for socially distanced collaboration, as we can adapt the configuration and spacing of our custom demountable bleachers to create large flexible tables and benches. Our kinetic pin-up walls also provide movable standing collaboration areas for project teams.”

-Kirsten R Murray – Principal, Olson Kundig

Dubbeldam Architecture, Toronto – Lokaal Coworking Office

Dubbeldam Architecture + Design was tasked by Toronto-based client Lokaal Coworking to design a creative and eco-friendly solution for partitions in their open workspace, to allow coworkers to return to the space with peace of mind. Rather than expensive and environmentally-unfriendly acrylic office partitions that have become ubiquitous nearly overnight due to COVID, our team designed the elegant yet highly functional deskPET, a self-assembled, portable workstation divider made locally from lightweight ecofelt panels that are manufactured using recycled PET plastic bottles. The dividers fit together with no tools, contain 60% recycled content and are themselves 100% recyclable for down-cycling. They contain no VOC’s, are easy to disinfect, resist bacterial and fungal growth, are easy to store flat-packed, and have excellent acoustic properties.

Bean Buro, Hong Kong – Anglo-Eastern Office

Our recently completed project for one of the world’s largest ship management company, Anglo-Eastern, incorporates large flexible spaces to ensure employees can return to work to carry out essential tasks. The concept was to choreograph the users’ movements and activities in spacious open areas, controlling the range of work scenarios and their timing across the day. Employees can adapt movable furniture to set up their desirable work settings; This meant creating much more concealed power sockets, and to ensure WIFI and AV equipment are plentiful. With a larger fluid environment, users can group in different small meeting clusters while being at a comfortable distance from each other. The material finishes in these flexible areas are all easy to clean and frequently maintained by the company.

Saguez & Partners, Paris – Saguez & Partners Office

To encourage preventive measures and avoid contact points, Saguez & Partners design global agency has designed Grand Hôtel sanitary facilities for its offices. What a better way to encourage people to wash their hand regularly, with access to sinks without doors and without contact!

LIKO-S, Czech Republic – LIKO-S Office

Shields on tables and counters will not protect you…

You have offices and employees and a worldwide pandemic is peaking outside. It is clear that you have to do something.

At LIKO-S decided to prepare our offices for employees with what we do best. Interior partitions. The aim was to minimize any risk of infection. We developed a cheap and fast system of full height glazed partitions that provides far greater safety than just poor plexi partitions.

In 2 weeks we modified our headquarters and foreign branches. The installation was fast, cheap and was implemented while maintaning the full operational speed of the company.

With LIKO-Safe Zone system, we are lending a helping hand to other companies that solve the same problem. We help them create a safe and healthy work environment.

Tamaros Design, Tel Aviv

Illustrated partitions by Anna Mirkin, which when the corona is finished you will not want to vacate. Tamaros Design turned to local illustrators and creators and created with them a series of illustrated Plexiglas partitions. Instead of sitting in front of the clear plastic, you can choose a view that will inspire you.

The selected model is printed on a transparent sticker, which can be affixed independently and can also be removed without marks.

Studio Eagle, New Jersey – Studio Eagle Office

In March 2020, Studio Eagle initiated the development of a program called “Redefining the Workplace for a New Tomorrow” in an effort to prepare to return to the workplace and continue to imagine the office of the future. One design service provided is the creation of “Environmental Wayfinding & Signage” supporting the corporate office community in their mission to fight the spread of COVID-19. In understanding the critical messaging such solutions needed to convey, the team discovered the impact a friendly, visual reminder could have. To keep their studio safe with a greater comfort level, a more human approach to social distancing was imagined. Studio Eagle’s own solutions utilize their brand equities to visualize safe practices – from maximum capacity signage to directional wayfinding.

Bobo.space, Moscow – Client Office

We strive to create positive changes through design. In response to the global pandemic, our studio is working to create a safe office space for people.

We have been thinking about architectural solutions and ideas for redesigning workplaces that can provide not only physical distance (seating back to back or side to side; help people keep to a 2m distance), but also fit into approach to design that encourage care for employees.

Once people return to the office, they’ll need to transpose our newly discovered sense of community accountability back into the workplace.

Once personal connections are established, design components will play an important role in bolstering and reinforcing this newfound communal spirit. Shared neighborhood resources like collaboration tables, and lounge areas provide opportunities for group connections.

Gensler, Chicago – ReRun


Launched in April and led by Gensler Chicago’s analytics team, ReRun is a data-driven process for post-COVID re-entry planning. The tool analyzes existing layouts and quickly generates multiple scenarios and identifies the most optimized plan for a variety of physical distancing conditions. ReRun has allowed Gensler design teams to rapidly understand the impact that maintaining CDC, OHSA, or other recommended social distances is likely to have across clients’ workplace portfolios, evaluating multi-million SF portfolios of our clients in a matter of days. While ReRun is the tool, what really sets it apart is the ability to pair it with the human touch. Gensler designers add a layer of design intelligence and behavioral insights for clients in addition to the raw, quantitative output of the tool.

Flavia Kury, Belo Horizonte – Google Office

Organic and biophilic layout. Spacious one-way circulation, safe distance between work positions, small meeting spaces, high and conventional tables to encourage movement among employees.

TS-DS, United Kingdom – Global Fin-Tech Firm Office

We have been working with a global fin-tech firm in their UK HQ and right now we are exploring what the office would look like post the pandemic for them. Our ongoing conversations with them has sparked the idea of workplace as a hub for people to get together and meet. Following this they have released 7,000 square foot of space for us to test this idea.

Our creation is a large, holistic work lounge with a coffee hub – filled with warmth and comfort – a space which is completely flexible and could be turned into 3 separate function rooms when needed to satisfy future requirements: training rooms, large meeting rooms, yoga studio, hackathon or exhibition space for community.

Woods Bagot, Global

Everyone is talking about how to make the post-COVID office safe, but no-one is talking about how to strengthen culture and performance.

Amanda Stanaway, Woods Bagot’s global workplace design leader, has been talking to clients in tech, finance, and government organizations around the world. These companies, looking further ahead than the immediate return to the office, are intently focused on new ways of working. How can performance, culture, and behavior flourish in the post-COVID workplace?

Forecasting for the long-term, sustainable future of workplace, Stanaway and her colleagues have reimagined four workplace models where culture and performance –safety is a given– are the focus. Working from home plays a role in them all, to greater or lesser degrees.

1. Culture Club: The workstation transforms to a variety of adaptable settings for collaboration, leaving quiet, focused or process work to be accomplished at home

2. In and Out: Teams rotate in and out, meaning employees have more space and employers optimize their real estate.

3. Community Nodes: small satellite offices located closer to their homes. This model reduces the risk of commuting but preserves the social life

4. Workplace Collectives: A version of co-working, this maintains boundaries of the pre-COVID workplace, but people to work in small clusters within flexible

mode:lina and profim, Poland

We don’t know how the offices will change yet. The pandemic situation is a catalyst for changes that are slowly taking place globally. Work models have been searched for a long time that will reduce communication disruptions and allow for greater efficiency.

Modern companies create not only a work environment, but communities. Office space already play various roles – and the employer should provide conditions for both individual and team work. Time for variety and flexibility – these are new trends that are already building new standards for work and office organization. Cooperation of profim and mode:lina™ can prove that creative change, apart from safety, can give a space great visual effect.

Prepared by profim and mode:lina™ brochure contains some tips for both taking care of employees and business, as well as ways to rearrange space. We are in it all together and we will overcome every turbulence together.

Form4 Architecture, Silicon Valley – Technology Company Office

To ensure the safety of our Silicon Valley Tech Client’s workforce in the wake of COVID‐19, immediate measures to enhance the office staff’s day‐to‐day wellbeing will include:

  • Changing workroom layouts to hold lower density and increase separation between occupants
  • Density reduction with wider circulation, greater separation, and one‐way foot traffic
  • Flexible workstation shielding and the return of high cubicles
  • Workrooms with increased separations and lower density
  • No shared spaces
  • Increased use of non‐porous, durable, un‐textured, and cleanable materials; antimicrobial materials; and coated fabrics that can withstand regular cleaning
  • HVAC improvements, including better air filtration and more natural ventilation
  • Disinfecting plumbing systems
  • Germicidal UV light to sterilize air and surface areas
  • Motion‐ or voice‐controlled doors, elevators, toilet partitions, etc.
  • Touchless hygiene stations at designated areas

BOS – Chicago

Meeting Rooms/Conference Rooms have significantly changed over the past several months. As end-users return to the office, they will likely notice many changes. This solution shows what once was a six-person or ten-person meeting space now allowing just two users in the room, with the other meeting members being virtual. Instructional signage will also play a large part in our return to the office, like in this rendering indicating how many people can use the room or remind users to wipe off surfaces before and after use. The solutions we create as Interior Designers for our clients may have changed with this pandemic, but we cannot forget that design still matters.

Stone Designs, Madrid – Acoustics

Do you know? The louder you talk, the more infections you can cause.

Bad acoustics mean speaking louder and this makes our contagion capacity grow in an exponential way. Being in a space with the appropriate acoustics has a direct impact in our mental and physical health. In spaces where the acoustic comfort is suitable, we speak lower, the environment is more relaxed, we feel better and we are able to stay longer in that place without a negative impact in our health. Acoustic products are essential when designing spaces where health is becoming more and more relevant. Users’ well-being has become the real objective when creating a space.

Infographic POINT 1. Acoustic Panels
Easy-to-install elements to solve the acoustics in specific zones, providing, in addition to an excellent technical solution, a very important aesthetic character to the project.

Infographic POINT 2. Carpet
Pavements and wall coverings are essential for the good acoustics of a space. Carpet helps to get a more silent space. Tests made by our partner Interface show, in addition, that the presence of virus in the surface is minimal due to the high porosity of the material.

Infographic POINT 3. Acoustic furniture
For a long time, we have researched how furniture in a project can help to solve acoustic problems. In this way, we have made a big progress creating lots of pieces which, apart from accomplishing different functions, also absorb the sound and reverberation generated by users in a very efficient way. A good sample of it is the Red Dot Award that we got in 2020 for our Gemini writing board designed for Glimakra of Sweden, where the fusion of three functions in a unique element made it praiseworthy for such a distinguished award.

Stone Designs, Madrid – Space Segregation

The way in which spaces are arranged in an interior determines the way in which users are going to move through it.

Common areas segregation

To get a more human, safer, and nicer environment involves avoiding people’s crows.
As a sample: if instead of creating just a kitchen where all employees come together at the same time, we distribute smaller ones through the whole space, to avoid unnecessary people’s crowed circulations.

To divide privacy in the space

The same happens in the most and less private zones in an office. If you organize meeting rooms, resting areas and work stations in a way that visitors and worker’s areas are separated, it is easier to keep a nicer and cleaner environment.
In addition, the cleaning of the different spaces can be organized according to the frequency of use of the spaces.

Infographic POINT 1. Divided entrance
We divide the entrance for visitors and internal workers. To the right: the area to welcome visitors, with meeting rooms and resting areas, waiting areas, small kitchen, etc. To the left, workers area: work stations, private offices, private kitchen…

Infographic POINT 2. Common areas as separation
Transition spaces between the most private and the most open to visitor’s areas.

Infographic POINT 3. Segregation of meeting points
We divide the offices in different areas to avoid big crows.

Infographic POINT 4. Meeting rooms
We place the bigger meeting rooms in the less private area in the office. This way workers and external visitors can access them without moving around the rest of the office.

HGA, Washington DC – AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust Office

When stay at home orders were first implemented, HGA was finalizing the design of the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust’s (HIT) new office space in Washington, DC. Construction had not yet begun, and as a result AFL-CIO HIT was able to quickly pivot and adjust interior design plans with its architect, HGA. Changes were made to the office’s common spaces and workstations, complemented by the addition of signage, hand sanitizing stations and other precautionary measures such as:

  • Converting certain shared workspace into individual offices with glass doors that allow employees to see and communicate while maintaining a safe distance.
  • Installing removable partitions/sneeze guards surrounding workstations and adjusting desk spacing to ensure social distancing.
  • Using healthcare-grade finishes on the floor and furniture, such as bleachable carpet, for easier disinfection.
  • Installing wayfinding signage to keep movement in specific directions reducing hallway traffic.

Gensler, San Jose – Assembly at North First Office

Gensler was asked to test COVID-ready workplace ideas at Assembly at North First, a recently renovated commercial office campus in San Jose, CA. The team demonstrated how the campus can meet the tenant’s needs for today, tomorrow, and in a post-COVID future. The low-rise buildings accommodate multiple entry points and indoor-outdoor workplace connectivity with roll-up doors and plenty of collaboration spaces. The study illustrates the campus’s adaptability as employees are phased back into the office through use of office suites, mudrooms for handwashing and sanitation before entering, all-gender restrooms to support diversity and enhanced cleaning needs, and a series of new space types that can transition from today’s social distancing and touchless requirements to a more resilient collaboration model for the future.