As we begin to return to work, questions linger about the long-term implications of the pandemic on our offices. In his white paper, Managing Principal and Global Corporate Interiors Practice Leader Fred Schmidt identifies short-term design interventions and examines longer-term real estate decisions. Rather than trying to predict the future, Fred employs scenario planning to articulate four possible futures our workplaces may inhabit.
He writes: “None of us know exactly what our workplaces will look like in the coming months and years. Some suggest radical changes, like eliminating or drastically downsizing offices, while others suggest enlarging and further enclosing workplaces. In order to offer more than just conjecture, we look to data—such as satisfaction measures of work-from-home programs—to help us imagine our future. But data alone cannot account for our personal behaviors; work continues to change in unpredictable ways in response to this crisis. The built environment will adapt, but these changes will not occur immediately. The important questions before us beg for more time.”
The Perkins&Will speaker panel included Natalie Smith, Associate Principal of Workplace Strategy, Carlotta Dove, Organisational Psychologist, also from our Workplace Consultancy team, and Linzi Cassels, Principal and Design Director for Interiors.
Several studios are creating conceptual models to envision how workplaces can support an increasingly hybrid workforce. Meena Krenek, Principal and Interior Design Director of our Los Angeles studio, has created three diagrams for this project: Pop-Up Meeting Space, Fluid Work Experience and Small Group Teaming. Each feature mobile furniture, privacy curtains, and screens for increased adaptability.
“This new hybrid model of the future post-Covid-19 office encourages a fluid work environment, allowing employees to quickly re-configure their workspace as much as they want to suit their needs, which these days can often change hour-by-hour,” Krenek said.
Building off of their previous article on managing the sudden shift to working from home, Lisa Pool, Principal, and Emily Klein, Associate Principal, provide guidance on how to manage our latest change to hybrid teams.
“Can we as change practitioners help communicate and train employees on how to script the unscripted with remote workers? This is an important question to explore as we think about the future of workplace in a Phigital world, a term coined by Jonah Stillman in his book, GenZ @Work, one where we integrate the physical world with the experience of the digital world. Generation Z, having grown up with this ethos, will no doubt expect employers to offer a variety of experiences in how they work. Companies will need to augment the workplace experience with online engagement to provide a more dimensional journey that integrates work and life.”