Office rotation: What does it mean?

Office rotation is a way of working in which employees take it in turns to occupy office premises. In this way, only a proportion of the workforce is in the office at any one time. The term can also refer to rotation in office.

tall office buildings

Some large firms in tall buildings adopted office rotation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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A firm might use office rotation because there is not sufficient space to have everyone in the office at the same time. One way to do this is by means of a shared desk policy such that, on any one day, the office is full, but not all employees are present. Those not in the office might be working elsewhere, such as from home or traveling.

Impact of social distancing

Even when there is sufficient space, a business may still choose to – or have to –  use office rotation. Some office-based firms found themselves in this situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. They used office rotation to comply with social distancing requirements.

Even businesses with enough office space found that they still had to rotate their staff. Consider, for instance, what happens when elevator capacity reduces dramatically under social distancing measures. For large firms in tall buildings, it could take many hours to get everyone to their desks.


Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and Alphabet, describes the method in a May 2020 blog post. The article explains how the tech giant’s workforce might return to the office “on a limited, rotating basis” following easing of pandemic restrictions.

JPMorgan Chase also used office rotation to ease employees back to the office during the pandemic. In an April 2021 memo to their workforce, the big United States bank explained the terms of the scheme, which included a 50% occupancy cap.

Part of flexible working

Changes in office use by organizations during the pandemic may have long-lasting impact. For some, the success of remote working has led to a rethink about office work, such as how and where to do it. A PwC survey of U.S. firms, for instance, suggests that the pandemic experience may lead some to be more flexible about office working.

Whether by design or default, many large firms have been prompted to consider shared space schemes in which staff “rotate in and out of offices.”

Some firms were already undergoing the transition before the pandemic. JPMorgan, for example, were planning a rotational model as part of a move to flexible working.