Will the Traditional Office Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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Will the Traditional Office Survive the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The spread of the coronavirus challenged the definition of the traditional office, forcing companies to confront a future of remote work to ensure employee safety. Our survey of 400 workers reveals that more than half of the U.S. workforce (55%) would feel safe returning to their office, but additional interviews suggest that the benefits of working from home outweigh the advantages of traditional in-office culture for some employees.

You can trace office culture back to Ancient Rome.

Leaders in politics and religion would gather at a forum at the center of the city for meetings, discussions, and announcements — like your team’s weekly stand-up.
But when the Roman Empire fell, so did its office buildings.

Fast forward to the 18th century. The East India House in the U.K. was an early example of today’s mega-corporations. Thousands of workers benefited from lavish interiors and company perks, but they also reported monotonous work days, long hours, and minimal vacation.

Skyscrapers were a game-changer in the late 1800s. Workers were packed into floors and seated at desks side-by-side — the birth of the open floor plan.

That trend was replaced in the 1960s by Bürolandschaft, a German concept that favored interactive work environments, desks arranged informally, and a lot of plants to create healthier conditions for employees.

We’ve evolved in the years since, building on these concepts to create new trends like cubicles, activity-based working layouts, co-working spaces, and many more.


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