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 in the series is Luke Pearson, co-founder of design studio Pearson Lloyd.
The pandemic has dramatically altered our daily lives with a swiftness and ferocity not seen before in many of our lifetimes. It has changed the way we travel, shop, congregate and work. With most of today’s workforce meeting in a virtual world, it has raised fundamental questions about our current working practices and what we think we need in a workplace.
In the last 10 years, there has been an evolution in workplace design and what the ‘modern office’ entails. Beyond the raw functionality of workspace planning, there has been a drive to create a more integrated space where people can collaborate, exchange ideas and be together – a space with people at the heart of it rather than crude efficiency metrics. We think efficiency is simply a part of good company culture. And workplace design is a part of nurturing this company culture. Beyond pragmatics and mechanics, it is about generating a space where people get the best out of each other.
The pandemic has profoundly disrupted our ways of working. While the precursory glance suggests that the ‘new norm’ is working, upon closer inspection, the lack of physical interaction hinders true collaboration and, moreover, creativity.
By designing the workspace with just the pandemic in mind – separated and isolated – we lose the magic that precipitates the creative spark, which oftentimes comes from the energy of being in the same room. No longer can we witness the moments before, after and during that inform mood, allow understanding and create camaraderie. While safety measures must be observed, we must also design workspaces that can allow for the quick-fire spark of creativity and collision of ideas that come from occupying the same space and time, without the awkward disruptions or glitches of technology.