Office tenants are eager to resume collaborative work styles in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic but expect companies to provide sufficient social distancing and sanitizing measures, according to a new survey by Boston-based architects Margulies Perruzzi.
“They missed collaborating in person and being around their coworkers,” said Tim Bailey, an associate partner at Margulies Perruzzi. “It aligns with everything we’ve been trying to do in the workplace, and create those moments of impromptu interaction.”
The need to provide a safe workplace will require a wide array of office upgrades and building system improvements, ranging from restrictions on foot traffic to touch-free equipment and new filtration systems, according to the firm’s findings. The survey completed this week received more than 500 responses from tenants, property managers and brokers.
Many companies are expected to categorize employees on a multi-point scale as they gradually reopen offices, reflecting whether their work can be done remotely or requires a physical presence in the office, Bailey said.
Respondents had concerns about returning to densely-populated workspaces, with 80 percent saying they were concerned about their safety in common areas and 70 percent saying they want to maintain social distancing in meeting and collaboration areas.
“Tenants rightfully have a lot of concerns about the base building spaces: how safe are the lobbies and bathrooms going to be, and their office pantries,” Bailey said.
Building managers initially are looking at “low-hanging fruit” to update common areas with new access control, touch-free bathroom appliances and installing MERV-15 filters in HVAC systems, he said.