Coronavirus may change how office spaces look once pandemic subsides, firm says

As millions of Americans continue to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic, this question looms: What will the office look like when employees eventually return?

"The one thing I can tell you for sure is that the new normal will be anything but normal," said Brett White, the CEO of Cushman and Wakefield, one of the largest real estate firms in the world.

The firm recently helped move 10,000 companies and nearly a million workers back into their offices in China. Now, it's using this experience to help employers in the U.S. reimagine their own workspace, creating what the company calls "the six-feet office."

"Desks will be further apart. We'll see hopefully color coding on the floor to where you walk and where you don't walk. We have to provide that safe six feet for every employee, not just when they're sitting at their desk, but when they're going to get a glass of water or they're walking around to the restroom and back," he said.

He also said companies in large buildings may begin restricting the number of people allowed in elevators and one time. Elevators may also designate where people can stand. The company is currently testing the new layouts in their Amsterdam offices.

White said plexiglass screens may also make their way into companies' redesigns.

"You're going to see an awful lot of plexiglass in use around the country very, very soon," he said.

While some changes will be temporary, White said that certain measures are here to stay.

"There are absolutely going to be protocols and learnings from this pandemic that are not going to go away ... what we've learned about hygiene, what we've learned about safe distancing in an office, those things are going to stick around," he said.

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