Of the many things we’ve learned so far in 2020, one clear lesson is that most knowledge workers, most of the time, can do their work effectively at home.
Before the pandemic, many people worked outside the office at least occasionally, from coffee shops, restaurants and airplanes to little league ballfields and waiting rooms when necessary. Strategic employers championed this type of flexibility. Now lots of companies are offering their team members a level of independence they never have dreamed of before, and tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft are talking about making work-from-home permanent.
Am I worried this great workplace experiment will put corporate interior designers like me out of a job? In a word, no.
We humans are social creatures. People come to the office to see other people. Along the way, they work. They innovate. They solve problems together. They mess up and start over. They build relationships, and in the best workplaces, they support their teammates. Collective work spaces - offices - are a vehicle that promotes and supports all these things.
At CFID, we “create space for people to enjoy,” and that mission won’t change. But it will look different in the future.
The effects of this pandemic on the workplace will be long lasting. So it’s worth analyzing and refining work space concepts before we implement them permanently. We should, however, consider the crazy ideas along the way. Those can be the best ones. (Do NOT suggest 84” high workstation panels, though. That ship has sailed.) Nothing should be off limits as we figure out what the new normal of work looks like.
My new normal may include a new title - “outdoor space” designer - to go with my old one of “interior designer.” Going forward, I’ll be looking at all the spaces that could be usable for a company, while providing appropriate social distancing, both indoors and outside. This is not to be confused with a landscape designer, though they could definitely be part of the new team.
We’ve all been looking for silver linings during this pandemic and this kind of forced adaptability is one for me. It’s going to make me think about this business in new ways, and I love that!