What will new protocols for returning to workspaces - and public spaces like our galleries - look like?

While the stay at home order is in place through May 18, many are starting to think about what a return to workplaces, and a welcoming of visitors to public spaces, may look like. What policies, protocols and physical changes are being implemented to aid with the return?


This is a great question. I imagine there will be a long re-entry period with varying levels of interaction. In the early stages, it looks like there will be limited access and a significant amount of medical monitoring before entering a space and still a large physical boundary between people.

I wonder how this will change our spaces and interactions in the long term. Will all events, exhibitions, and resources have a digital element? Will all physical spaces be reworked to allow more space or fewer people at a time?


Seems to me that spaces need to be as flexible as possible. While lines outside grocery stores and lines striped on floors are haphazard and unorganized, I don’t think organizations should invest in permanent solutions to overcrowding. We will see ebbs and flows of the requirement (and desire) for social distancing.


As much as office open floor plans received a bad rap, it will be disheartening to move into cubicles or private offices going forward – especially, since we’ve all experienced so much isolation these past few months. I’m not ready to work in one of these

1 Like

It’s also interesting to think about how we will all get to work, especially in our office where almost everyone takes public transit in some form. When will the T feel okay again?
Thanks for posting a link Patricia.
Does anyone know if the links can be set to open a new tab rather than leaving the conversation?


There are systems recommended by OSHA as well as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. But how applicable are those protocols to the BSA office? I agree with Polly that flexibility is key, and I have no idea if our dogbone desks can be reconfigured to separate and then repositioned according to those official guidelines. Even so, will separate desks in an open floorplan be enough?

1 Like

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve heard some of the biggest names in our industry touting the return to the 6’ cubicle wall. And they were dead serious.

The rush to the open office was led by contract furniture companies looking to create (and sell) new products. They were the ones tantalizing us with ‘beehive energy’ and eventually neuroscience and other behavioral studies that demanded one ‘phone booth’ for every one ‘hot desk’. We can’t afford to ignore or forget this new health reality, but we also can’t afford to rush and outfit our offices with the newest (errr, oldest) furniture craze either.

I created a Community Feedback topic to show you (everyone!) how to set your account to open links in a new tab. Follow the guide at:

One of the hot topics I have been hearing is less about the physical office space (although that is definitely an important issue), but having the commute to work. A few folks mentioned this already, but creating cubicles and separating each staff member in the office is a waste if everyone is on the T less than 6 inches apart. Do firms encourage walking/biking? Give discounts on parking passes?

On Thursday, the Chamber of Commerce is holding a free panel discussion with some really baller panelists about the future of commuting. https://www.bostonchamber.com/events-programs/events-calendar/2020-virtual-transpo/?utm_source=mailchimp&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=the-future-of-transpo

It sounds like part of the initial step to re-open is to identify what services, operations, etc. need to be “re-started” first, who on staff handles those, how does the office need to be reconfigured to be safe for those individuals (and with cost in mind), and how to get those folks into the office.

Additional questions/thoughts, how do we use shared spaces beyond the actual office (i.e. kitchens, bathrooms, etc. - assigning times/groups, cleaning procedures, maybe removing shared water coolers/coffee pots), holding Zoom staff meetings even if all staff are on-site, if someone ends up sick (which appears to be inevitable) - does the whole office close again (in small settings such as ours, it might be yes in larger offices it might just be that floor closes again), staggering start times while might make sense - given our current transit system if we all try to stagger will it actually stagger folks (I think that there is something like 1 million people who use mass transit every day).