The Fraught Future of the Post-Pandemic Office Elevator

As remote workers return to their buildings, iconic elevator maker Otis grapples with a product everyone’s suddenly terrified of

Innovation in the elevator business has always been as much about psychology as it is invention.

“I think most people’s biggest fear is getting stuck in an elevator.”

Footprint markers showing how to socially distance are seen on the floor of an elevator in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Before Otis founder Elisha Graves Otis invented his safety brake in 1853, elevators were thought too dangerous for passengers at all.

Elisha Graves Otis shows his first elevator in the Crystal Palace, New York City, 1853. (Credit: Bettmann/Getty)

Each time I had to yell louder, I had to stop myself from wondering if anyone with coronavirus had done the same and whether any virus particles lingered in the air.

A notice in an elevator in Tokyo, Japan, requests that people avoid talking to avoid the spread of coronavirus. (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

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