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April 6th 2020, William Poole-Wilson

It’s all about Density and Distance

Preparing for Business environments post Sars-Coronavirus 2 (Covid-19) – your distancing and density plans

Buildings give messages, and in the last 25 years there have been clear messages from the workplace and cultural centres that are particularly relevant to how we get back to work and culture in the current environment. Densities, absenteeism, and presenteeism have increased and with correlation, now we have evidence for cause.  Above all how we get back to peak performance.

Whilst the virus will dictate when we return to work, the time to prepare is now. We are using 25 years of design, health and wellbeing research, and combined experience of current occupiers and culture centers to bring plans together for major occupiers and cultural organisation’s.


William Poole-Wilson is co-author to British Council for Office ‘Wellness Matters’ that published in 2018 a detailed view of Health and Wellbeing in the workplace.

Right now, it’s rare to pull back and look at your medium (3-6 month) and long-term strategies (1-2 years) Will+Partners have developed a tool for developing your short-term return to work policy, and medium to long term strategies.

Based on impact, evidence and cost analysis, we are developing key pillar plans with major corporates and cultural centers to understand and test how to get back to work and be prepared for a future where we have recovery preparedness.

Will+Partners initial recovery plan can provide:

  1. A workplace and cultural strategy and policy quickly developed to implement a virus-safe environment based on medical evidence, impact and cost

  2. Training alongside your policy guide for your key workers, for business optimization

  3. A summary analysis of your current working environment and opportunities to improve

  4. A workplace or cultural centre guide, to assist explaining to the user how to work safely

  5. A clear set of rules to sit alongside the training and guide

  6. A clear set of drawings, from wayfinding, signage, people routing and traffic flows

  7. Impact, cost and evidence analysis for further consideration


In our initial recovery plan, we provide design management, project management, logistics, team training and recovery prepared re-design.

Mid to long term strategy plans will need to include the social impacts, learnings and crucially being prepared. We look at the impact, evidence and costs for 6 key pillars:

  1. Densities and distancing in workplace and cultural centres will be re-designed. The desire to increase density without considering, alternative agile-working, flexible-working, or changing ways of working will be re-configured. Cleanliness, no-touch and improved workplaces and culture centres matter.

  2. Flexible work arrangements are now normal – Video conferencing with Teams or Zoom is now normal along with Slack and Trello. Performance needs to be reviewed, and real time communication from work sites means more eyes on the same site remotely. Living near work is less critical, reducing carbon footprint, wellbeing and flexibility are essential.

  3. Wellness Matters - The human side of work and wellbeing, if not already apparent will become essential.  Dedicated wellbeing and health provision will not just be a benefit but will become a critical need. Having empathy for faster changing work and technology environments will matter. Technology ‘overload and sickness’ matters

  4. Cultural diversity – whether it’s going to the cinema, or doing the laundry - gender norms will be challenged, as the opportunity for everyone to work and play without stereotype changes faster, as the detail of how we manage our work is made more flexible.

  5. New remote options will be created for jobs that have not been remote – business will look to have shared workers where they work with one another, overhead costs will be shared, and new talent platforms developed.

  6. Legislation will come quickly as the pros and cons and appropriateness of contract or gig work become apparent, and new learnings on density mean improved workplaces

  7. Property strategies will change – Online shopping, and a changing high street experience will advance even quicker.  The desire for the cinema to be a more social experience, the new ‘Mall’, ‘Education centre’ and ‘Virtual Conference facility’ will change more quickly.


People are at the heart of all business, we understand performance, ethical decisions, trade-off’s, and decision making.  In our Brave New World, we need to make those better decisions, making connections, creating safe spaces that express all our emotions and feelings. This is the essence of design. 


Design matters.

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