Society has been awakened to a new normal for how we live and work together as a result of the 2020 global pandemic. The demand on designers of the built environment to engineer solutions must be urgently met if we are to move forward responsibly.
In answering this call, our commitment to supporting our clients remains our primary focus. Our goal is to help you define your new normal and then adapt to it. To make room for new-found ways of working that have emerged out of working from home, without disrupting what already works. To make changes that are not kneejerk reactions, but rather, to enact meaningful solutions that provide lasting health and wellness benefits to end-users. To create a space where people feel safe without sacrificing inspiration, functionality, or productivity.
At RMW, engaging in dialogue with our clients about their specific needs has always been at the heart of our approach and is only more relevant now since every client is unique and will require an individualized response. As workplace designers, we are eager to apply our knowledge in creative but sensible ways to solve the challenges that we all now face. We are actively vetting solutions for our clients to determine their practicality, efficacy, and longevity. What we do and what we have learned along the way can help make the re-entry process easier for you and your employees or tenants.
Resilient Design Considerations
Determining the right steps for each client, from policy shifts to physical alterations, requires looking at the big picture. Our approach calls for a balance of strategy, communication, and assessment. Below are nine common considerations for resilient design.
- Gain insights about your employees’ overall health and safety concerns and discover what has and has not worked well during the work from home (WFH) period.
Virtual Focus Groups
- By assembling a group of employees that represent a good cross-section of the company, you can generate well-rounded feedback that helps uncover the best solutions.
Space Planning and Dedensification Studies
- Explore interim and long-term strategies to get the right workplace densities and collaboration spaces with safety protocols that are appropriate for your organization’s culture.
- Determine the right size, configuration and location of effective collaborative workspaces where individuals can come together and easily collaborate as a group.
- Consider flexible furnishings and integrated AV technology.
- How do your people work individually and together?
- There are many approaches to individual workspaces that can promote healthy and safe places for people to concentrate and get their work done.
- Consider flexible furnishings, screens and orientation.
- What is the right amount of private heads-down workspace to open focused workspace for your organization?
Amenity Area Considerations
- Amenity areas are very important to building culture and community in an organization.
- Consider motion-activated entry/exit doors, touchless fixtures and building controls, flexible furnishings, integrated AV technology and appropriately distanced access, distribution and layout.
- What amenity spaces is your organization in need of to promote healthy interaction and socialization?
- Clear, wide and effective circulation is a prime linkage throughout a workplace.
- Consider widening pathways and incorporating visual cues and navigational signage.
- How can space use and circulation plans help your employees adjust to their workplace?
Building Systems Enhancement
- A healthy building goes a long way to instilling trust and confidence in your employees.
- Consider increased filtration & ventilation and monitoring/maintenance periods.
- How will you communicate the healthy aspects of your facility to your employees?
- Common areas are shared and used by everyone working and visiting a facility.
- Consider the lobby and elevator experience and restroom modifications.
- How important is it that your organization shows how healthy its workplace is to it’s employees and visitors?
Employee wellbeing should be at the heart of your re-entry strategy. The process begins by gaining insight into your employees’ overall health and safety concerns, as well as understanding what has and has not worked well during the work from home (WFH) period. We think the best approach
is to have a deep dive and engage in surveys and focus groups, but the exact project approach is tailored to your organization and could include these services. Our workplace designers have always emphasized asking the right questions to gain a big picture understanding before beginning any project and will design a thoughtful survey to capture meaningful insights. The findings from the survey can be discussed more in-depth through the virtual focus groups. Together, these steps will help inform your workplace re-entry strategy and determine how to best communicate it to your employees and stakeholders.
The success of your office re-entry will depend on securing buy-in from all involved. Using feedback from the virtual focus groups will help you design the right Post-COVID office policy. Presenting your re-entry plan clearly and thoughtfully will ease concerns about returning to the office. Our team will produce collateral to aid in conveying key messages to employees and stakeholders.
Our understanding of how your existing space supports the ways in which the company’s teams and individuals work is as important as assessing the physical space to determine what solutions can or cannot be implemented. Our thorough assessment can help decision-makers understand the costs and benefits for each possible option.