Will coronavirus bring cubicles
back to office spaces?

CEO’s around the world are grappling with how to protect their teams when offices are fully reopened. Some have questioned if the office world will return back to the 90’s cubicle layouts.

However, research from a call center in South Korea proved these measures won’t be effective in combating the virus.
A single infected employee came to work on the 11th floor of a building.
Figure 1. Floor plan of the 11th floor of building X, site of a coronavirus disease outbreak, Seoul, South Korea, 2020.
Blue coloring indicates the seating places of persons with confirmed cases.
This floor had 216 employees. Within one week, 92 people on the floor reflected symptoms testing positive for the virus and 2 tested positive but remained asymptomatic. The side of the floor with the original infected person was the most impacted. The other side of the floor had very few infections.
Figure 2. Epidemic curve of a coronavirus disease outbreak in a call center, by date of symptom onset, Seoul, Korea, 2020.
Asymptomatic cases are excluded.
Interestingly, even though there was considerable interaction between employees on different floors of the building in elevators and the lobby, the outbreak was mostly limited to a single floor. Throughout the other floors of the building only 3 people were infected. Although, the authors of the article were not able to trace the infection to the primary cluster on the 11th floor.

While the exact number of people infected by respiratory droplets/respiratory exposure versus fomite transmission (door handles, shared water coolers, elevator buttons, etc.) was unknown, it served to highlight that being in an enclosed space and sharing the same air for a prolonged period can increase the chances of exposure and infection.

Contact inspace to help your office develop a plan to protect your office during these uncertain times.