The days of the traditional office layout with cubicles in the middle of the room and private offices on the perimeter are over.

Nearly half of global office workers want a workspace designed to enable and encourage social interaction, according to the “Tork Office Trend Report For 2016.” As a result, 75 percent of companies use at least seven types of collaborative spaces in their layouts, says the “Creating Collaborative Spaces That Work Report,” from Knoll Inc. Common types of spaces include different sized conference rooms, video conference rooms and cafes. Some buildings even include fitness centers, outdoor meeting spaces and game rooms.

In addition to these flexible office space layouts with a variety of workstations, buildings are also increasing densification of workspace. Currently, the average personal space per worker is 151 square feet, which is down from 176 square feet per person in 2013. The figure has substantially decreased from just seven years ago when each person had 225 square feet. Individual workspace is expected to decrease even further, down to 100 square feet, as it currently is in Europe, according to CoreNet Global.

Densification is attractive because it reduces costs, especially in Class-A offices which have the highest lease rates. If more workers can fit in a given area, facility executives can save money by leasing less space.

Although occupants will appreciate the ability to collaborate and facility executives can save money on leases, there is a downside to these new layouts. These two trends will put office workers in closer proximity to each other, increasing the potential for cross-contamination. Workers in shared office spaces have, on average, two more episodes of the common cold then workers in private offices, according to a study titled, “Impact Of A Comprehensive Workplace Hand Hygiene Program On Employer Health Care Insurance Claims And Costs, Absenteeism, And Employee Perceptions And Practices.

In addition, in a high-density office, more workers in the space will likely increase restroom traffic. If facilities get too busy at the same time, workers may skip washing hands instead of waiting. The increased traffic will also put a strain on soap and towel supplies. If stock runs out, workers definitely won’t be washing their hands.

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