Do We Need as Much Office Space as We Did Before?

Despite the many professions that put employees in the field and on ever-changing job sites, we still tend to associate work with the office. Employers are proud to build beautiful, high-functioning offices in prime locations and employees work to earn the biggest space with the best view. Though many offices have undergone considerable evolution over the years, from bland cubicles to bustling open-concept spaces with a fancy coffee bar, changing times are bringing forward a new question: do we really need as much office space as we are used to?

Empty Office Hallway Urban

Working from Home

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, about one-third of workers in the U.S. are working from home. That's a significant increase from the four percent of Americans who worked from home at least half the time in a pre-coronavirus world. It comes with a lot of benefits for the employees: they don't have to commute, saving valuable time and gas and avoiding the stress of dealing with traffic. In many cases, they may have more freedom to design their workday around family and personal responsibilities.

It's also valuable for the employer. Research shows that people who work from home are often more productive and more satisfied with their work, making them less likely to quit. Less turnover saves the company time and money.

And if employees work from home, employers don't have to maintain office space—especially at a time when new restrictions will make that more challenging.

New Challenges for Office Spaces

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a long list of recommendations for offices to help ensure the safety of their occupants. This includes suggestions like these:

- Remove high-touch shared items (coffee pots, water coolers, etc.) and replace with single-use items.

- Rearrange the space to ensure at least six feet of distance between employees.

- Use plastic barriers between employees who can't be spaced far enough apart.

- Improve building ventilation and air filtration.

- Increase cleaning and disinfecting protocols.