COVID-19 has underscored the fact that being in close physical contact with others can make us more susceptible to disease. As a result, people in this COVID era may continue to practice physical distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection and to remain healthy. Employers and employees are already working to navigate a complicated web of safety and caution to return to work.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is set to run out in September which will trigger a significant wave of people heading back to work and the continued preference for physical distance could prompt a change in occupational health and safety (OHS) regulations and building codes to help support safe physical distancing guidelines developed in response to COVID. Even though it could take some time for new regulations to be put in place, employees and customers may demand that employers and businesses put additional measures in place to protect their own health and safety going forward. We’re already seeing this happen with a number of places now considering mandatory mask/face covering legislation.
Physical distancing measures will likely reduce demand for open-concept office spaces (which has already happened in some work spaces and which are increasingly being criticized for their negative impact on employee productivity) while increasing demand for closed-concept spaces that help to keep people more physically isolated from each other.
The added barriers imposed by closed-concept offices would decrease the amount of physical space available to accommodate employees, suggesting that more office space will be needed in order to ensure that employees have sufficient space available and that allows them to continue to physically distance from each other..
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