Human networks spread both good and bad contagions. For good contagions, like knowledge, ideas and advice, we want our networks to quickly disseminate information. For bad contagions, like disease and disinformation, we want to quickly spot the sources and disrupt the spread.
Before the pandemic, many companies trended toward open-plan workspaces to boost face-to-face collaboration, create spontaneous and casual interactions, and hasten the pace of idea sharing and decision-making. But employees who work in open offices have a 12% increased risk of getting sick, and COVID-19 is more likely to spread in densely clustered spaces.
Recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focus on outfitting the physical workspace to protect employees — positioning desks six feet apart; installing plexiglass barriers; opening windows to rely less on ventilation systems; and closing off high-traffic areas such as conference rooms, elevators and cafeterias.