Explore the latest projects from the UK’s commercial interiors industry, featuring the best of workspace, hospitality, residential and public sectors.

An elegant, luxe workspace for Capital Sprints

The DSGN Studio has developed two schemes in one for the investment and advisory company, using artwork and sculptural elements to create a minimal, quietly confident space.

22/09/2020 5 min read

Interviews, opinions and profiles from industry experts

Creating a workplace that supports mental health: Rob Stephenson

The physical workplace is, for many people, a big part of what keeps people well, says the InsideOut founder.

22/09/2020 8 min read

Key industry articles and insights looking at the latest news from the world of commercial interior design

Schools back? How COVID-19 is affecting education property

The chaos surrounding A-level grading and university admissions in late August crowned a chaotic year for the UK’s higher education sector, David Thame considers.

22/09/2020 5 min read

Discover the latest and most innovative products curated by Mix Interiors.

New: Debut from Svensson

Marking the beginning of a new era for Svensson, Debut is manufactured from recycled ramie which is woven together with a wool mixture, merging together to create something different from a distance.

15/09/2020 2 min read

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Industry Events

Designing for people not pandemic: Gill Parker, BDG

“Remote working is here to stay, enabling designers to create experiential spaces that put people first – which is where they should always have been.”

05/08/2020 4 min read
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series of opinions on designing for people, not pandemic. Read more on the issues and challenges the industry is facing due to Covid-19.
For years now we’ve spoken with leading designers and end users about putting people at the heart of workplace design – so is there a danger that this will be thrown out of the window as businesses consider how to re-address their workspaces in light of the pandemic?
Is there also a danger that company ethos and culture (think sustainability, wellbeing etc) will be discarded in an effort to make spaces safe and suitable for people to return?
Is there a solution – or a series of solutions – that can help businesses ‘have it all’ – to allow their people to work safely, together, while not forgoing their company culture and beliefs? We believe there are – and we know the very people who can provide the answers.
Next up in the series is Gill Parker, CEO of BDG architecture + design.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global disaster and nothing should be said to trivialise that. History will judge those businesses that have coped well and cared for their people, and those that have struggled.

For workplace strategy, it might have a positive outcome. People and their wellbeing is currently the focus of attention rather than the cost per sq ft. Long may this last!

Pre-COVID-19, some companies were already working in a manner that is now being heralded as the ‘new norm’. Employees were equipped to choose where to work – either throughout a building or at home. But even within these, there was often a reluctance to accept that remote home working really had a place in the workstyle mix.

Meanwhile, plenty of other companies were still having the debate about open plan vs cellular and missing the fact that this workplace strategy is not particularly linear or simplistic. As in all things where people are involved, a workplace strategy has to be fluid and adaptable, capable of accommodating many different personalities and preferences. We have now witnessed the global adoption of remote working on a scale that no one could have predicted. Some companies made the transition to remote working overnight. Other firms maybe took longer to get organised, but all have got there in the end. As of June 2020, every company is aware that remote working can and does work. It’s just a shame it took a pandemic for employers to both recognise this fact and, perhaps more importantly, to value it. The technology that enables remote working has been around for a while, but now it is trusted.

The answer will most certainly not be found at the bottom of a spreadsheet belonging to the real estate team. It will be found in communication with people to understand what works for them, and their business

As we move into the next stage of the effect of the pandemic, there are two types of businesses – those that comprehend the future will remain about creating choice for everyone, and those that now believe the debate is restricted to office vs home – just another simplistic view in line with open vs cellular. The office is most certainly not dead, as so many are predicting. The future will undoubtedly be a combination of office based and remote working but it is still too early to predict what the balance of remote and office working will be, and it will vary from sector to sector, culture to culture. The answer will most certainly not be found at the bottom of a spreadsheet belonging to the real estate team. It will be found in communication with people to understand what works for them, and their business.

One of the most interesting and welcome shifts in the last three months is how responsibility for getting the workplace right has shifted dramatically from being the sole responsibility of the real estate team into the domain of the HR/people team. Again, as with remote working, it is great to see that the slow change, which has been developing over a number of years, has suddenly been fast-forwarded. HR and real estate working together will develop people-centric spaces.

Productivity and remote working is intriguing, and seems to be very personal. There is a considerable body of employee surveys being published with claims of increased productivity attributed to remote working. This really should be caveated to say that this is the perception of the responding individuals. For many years, measuring productivity and its connection to the work environment has always been the holy grail of workplace consultancy. The reality is that productivity in business terms can only be assessed retrospectively, taking into account a number of factors.

Remote working is here to stay in some form, which will enable the office space to develop. It may become recognised as a place that is the heart of an organisation, and will need to be designed to draw people in. It will enable designers to create experiential spaces that promote the brands, putting people first – which is where they should always have been.

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