The office as we knew it may be gone forever

Masked office workers might start each workday with a temperature check. They may be assigned to staggered shifts — an A team and a B team — to reduce density in the office. Coffee breaks might turn into hand-washing breaks. Four-seat break-room tables might be converted to single seaters. The water cooler could be off-limits for office gossip. And corridors where co-workers normally congregate and chat may become one-way traffic zones where employees pass briskly to limit face-to-face interactions.

Penny Bailey, a tech recruiter from San Francisco, frets about how her company or any company can maintain social distancing in an open floor plan. “I worry about having people being packed closely together.”

She has questions: Are the elevators going to be voice activated? Why should workers able to do their jobs remotely return to the office if they could be asymptomatic carriers?