Open office layouts were criticized prior to COVID-19, but they became even more of a glow stick after health concerns emerged along with the pandemic. However, the critics did not always have a replacement layout in mind. One critic with solutions is Clive Wilkinson Architects of Los Angeles, an early proponent of Open Offices. After a customer survey and research into alternative office designs, Clive Wilkinson recommends specific layouts for employees returning to work, according to Fast Company. The architecture firm designed a workstation kit of interchangeable pieces that defines the types of spaces they think employers want, including these three.
- The library is a collaborative workspace with “large work tables, individual corners, and comfortable chairs for calm concentration,” says Fast Company. Amber Wernick, an associate at Clive Wilkinson, said she expected traditional desks would continue to be popular, but research found the opposite. “People are ready for a change,” she stated.
- The space is an office version of the eat-in kitchen that combines social interaction and eating. Instead of the many small canteens that were previously common, a large meeting point attracts people from different teams to meet and have a coffee or lunch. “They actually want these social zones to be a little uncomfortable. It really forces people to come together who would normally never interact, ”Wernick told Fast Company.
- The avenue the typical office corridor as a "place of interaction with touchdown tables and stools, and maybe there are also cubicles", explains Wernick. "When you leave a meeting, you can chat with colleagues instead of having to go straight back to your neighborhood."
Wernick said the absence of the office during the pandemic helped people imagine what the office could be and accelerated readiness for change.