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Is Office Densification Dead?

Before the pandemic, personal work areas were shrinking. What impact will social distancing and work-from-home have on office layouts?


Not that long ago, office space was shrinking. Trends were forecasting that facilities would provide as little as 100 square feet per worker. But now with the pandemic, things have changed, ready or not.

What does it mean for offices now that our behavior and budgets are dictated in large part by COVID-19? Studies show eight in 10 companies are planning to allow employees to work remotely at least some of the time when employees return to the workplace (Gartner Inc. research). Will our densified offices be adequate to address new health and safety guidelines like social distancing? Will office areas de-densify or will they stay small because so many people will work remotely?

This is a chance to reimagine modern workspaces, says Kelly Spinola, Global Product Manager in Facilities Management for JLL Real Estate Services. There will be some fundamental changes, but each organization is different.

"We are talking with clients about medium- and long-term decisions about the future of their workspaces. As we look at the division of space, it's important to find out what employees want and where they want to work," she says.

Along those lines, JLL has done several surveys.

"We have found that during this time, people have had the time to reflect on what's important to them now and in the future. Their needs may have changed," says Spinola.

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