How some companies are making work-spaces safer in preparation for more staff returning to the office

Countless office towers, offices, boardrooms and cubicles have been sitting empty throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As people cautiously negotiate heading back to the office over the coming months, they’re likely to see a lot of changes.

“The central issue is there’s a push and a pull between an employer and an employee,” says Robert Palter, senior partner at consulting management firm McKinsey & Company.

At their modern Toronto offices, the communal spaces with couches that used to be for social gathering and the eating areas for sharing a meal all remain closed, a corporate museum to the way the workplace used to be.

Nearly three-quarters of the 3.4 million Canadians who began working from home in March continued to do so in August, according to Statistics Canada.

“If you look at the amount that has been written and talked about in this work-from-home experiment, there’s equal amounts written on the diametrically opposed ends of this debate,” Palter says.

One side is in favour of working from home, and the flexibility it affords. The other is saying the office is a fundamental place of work, essential for creative collaboration and staff development.

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