Coronavirus puts open plan offices in the crosshairs

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KCRW has an open floor plan, where people sit closely next to each other and there are no cubicles. How will COVID-19 and social distancing affect office designs like this? Photo by Rosalie Atkinson.

Workplace design has shifted over the years to more open concepts that foster collaboration and interaction between workers, though the executive suite and coveted corner office still exist.

But now with the COVID-19 crisis, many companies are telling employees to continue working from home. Google and Facebook have told staff they can work remotely until 2021. Twitter and Square said their employees can be free of the office “forever.”

Does the swift adoption of telecommuting signal a new era of working from home, or will traditional workplaces be reimagined to reflect lessons learned from the pandemic?