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Post pandemic: Offices may look like flexible working spaces, architect explains

For years, businesses have moved to open-concept workspaces. But in the age of social distancing will the open office become a thing of the past?

WASHINGTON — What will offices look like when the coronavirus pandemic ends? For years, businesses and offices have moved to open spaces. But in the age of social distancing will private offices make a comeback?

It's hard to remember, but open concept offices haven't always been the way of the workplace. The idea of no walls and shared work spaces is a relatively new idea.

"Private offices were the thing when I started," architect Shalom Baranes said.

Baranes has designed offices in DC for more than 30 years. Does he see major changes coming to office design?

"I think we have to be careful that we don't limit our design solutions to only solve yesterday's wars," Baranes said.

Maybe we won't see a return to individual offices. Baranes said we may see a design of future offices for flexibility. He explaining using an is firm redesigned the office spaces of the Pentagon after the Sept. 11th attacks.

"We developed a universal space plan system there that allows for significant shifts of spaces in short periods of time," he explained.

If employees need to socially distance quickly, Baranes said you could see "Open offices, or closed offices and you can basically do that over a weekend."

There is another reality Baranes said the pandemic has revealed.

“I think offices are going to have to seamlessly stitch working at home with those working at the office," Baranes said.

He believes companies will want to add more remote technology inside their buildings to help people work outside the office.

"As a result of this pandemic, I think we are all discovering that with the proper technology, first of all, we are all capable of working remotely," Baranes explained.

There was one final point Baranes had. He said while offices went open concept, so did homes, which means working from home doesn’t really allow some people the privacy they need.

If there is going to be a shift in office work spaces, you may see another shift in residential plans as well.

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