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A WeWork in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

WeWork — the driver of America's shift to smaller, shared office spaces — is planning layout changes at its nearly 900 locations for life after the coronavirus pandemic, according to company documents reviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: After months of paranoia, social distancing and working from home, the millions who work from WeWorks will be wary of returning to shared kitchens, phone booths and desks. WeWorks have 75 square feet of space per worker, compared to the national average of 214.

What's happening: WeWork is removing some seats and desks at its locations and halving many conference rooms' capacities so workers can observe six-foot social distancing guidelines.

  • It'll add hand-washing or sanitizing stations as well as wipe dispensers to high-touch common areas like kitchens and phone nooks.

But that might not be enough for many nervous workers.

  • Tenants are telling WeWork they don't expect all of their employees to return to work at once when restrictions are lifted.
  • "When the time comes to return to work, we recognize that the manner in which this happens may look different for members across our community, so we are preparing accordingly," a WeWork spokesperson tells Axios.

The bottom line: The easiest way for WeWorks to move to a higher number of square feet per worker is just for fewer workers to come in to the office. Which seems to be exactly what's likely to happen, when the lockdown is lifted.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
54 mins ago - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project, state health departments; Map: Andrew Witherspoon, Sara Wise/Axios

The daily rate of new coronavirus infections rose by about 10 percent in the final week before Thanksgiving, continuing a dismal trend that may get even worse in the weeks to come.

Why it matters: Travel and large holiday celebrations are most dangerous in places where the virus is spreading widely — and right now, that includes the entire U.S.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.