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How will office life change after COVID-19?

iStock/valentinrussanov(NEW YORK) — In recent years, workplaces have changed from the cubicle farms spoofed in movies like Office Space to more open, co-working spaces, where colleagues were often seated together on benches and other barrier-free, shared work environments.

And then came COVID-19.

The disease, which has killed more than 75,000 in the U.S alone, has reshaped the modern workplace both philosophically, with millions of people working from home, and will soon do so physically, according to real estate experts.

With stay-at-home orders in place, companies from small firms to Fortune 500 brands moved to operate with their workforces almost entirely remotely — with some companies like Microsoft and Zillow expressing the move may be permanent in some cases.

But what about when those stay-at-home orders expire? Those returning to offices could notice more cleaning crews, masks and fever checks, and fewer people with a lot more distance between them.

Sundar Nagarajan, with the commercial real estate firm JLL, told ABC News, “The goal is not to bring 100 people [back] just because you can…with social distancing.”

“The goal is to bring as few people as possible to keep their businesses ongoing, because every person that you bring that is not necessary in the office, you are adding that much of a risk to those who are absolutely necessary in the office.”

Nagarajan adds, “[I]f you have two people at a time in an elevator, how long would it take if you want to bring 100 people to the 44th floor? And if you’re not collaborating, what is the purpose of coming to the office? People are beginning to ask the ‘why’ question, versus two weeks ago, they were saying we need to bring people back because that’s always how it’s been.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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