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Trying Out New Office Layouts for the Post-Pandemic Age

Cushman & Wakefield experiments with distant desks, one-way aisles, restricted conference rooms, and lots of signage.

Desks are spaced to allow for safe social distancing at Cushman’s office in Amsterdam.

Desks are spaced to allow for safe social distancing at Cushman’s office in Amsterdam.

Photographer: Jussi Puikkonen for Bloomberg Businessweek

To get into Cushman & Wakefield Plc’s Amsterdam office, employees must first secure a work spot through an app that assigns them to a sanitized desk—which could be far from their pre-pandemic workspace.

The floors are marked with giant blue arrows directing one-way traffic. Don’t make a wrong turn! Otherwise it’s a lap around the floor to get back to where you were. Visual reminders to stay socially distant are everywhere, as are hand sanitizer dispensers. Individual desks are demarcated by screens and enveloped by circular boundaries on the carpet, lest workers roll their chairs too far. There are fewer communal tables, and those that remain have markings designating where people can sit, to avoid crowding. Cups are labeled with reminders to keep a 1.5-meter (about a 5-foot) distance, as per Amsterdam’s regulations. Even the coffee and printing stations around the floors have “safe zone” standing areas.