We recent read about Google’s commitment to their London office despite the rise in remote working, and it is great to see Google pushing on with one of our projects with confidence.
Like most design teams on construction projects, we’ve been coming to terms with a change of pace and pivots galore as clients re-evaluate what they want and need from their future environments in a world affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The future of the service provider’s office has never been discussed more. At the start of the year, we were planning for optimum capacities, maximising occupancies within degrees of comfort, fluidity with no permanent work stations, and a wealth of communal spaces that encouraged accidental collisions. The concept of an accidental collision is central to creating intuitive places. A world where movements of visitors and employees are unknowingly choreographed, their paths crossing without thought, sparking impromptu and relaxed conversations about work and life, leading to eureka moments or at worst bonhomie.
This concept works and will come back over time. In the meantime, we are having to consider how to create a layer of activity and information keeping people safe in the confined spaces of an office. We need to reassure them that the company or landlord is prioritising their best interests, and most importantly in an environment where routines can be ingrained, reminding them at key moments to change or maintain their changed behaviour for the benefit and safety of all.
We have produced a COVID-19 Design Toolkit that shows how to do this. Because we feel this is such an important issue, that we believe isn’t being done well to-date, we have made it free to download on covid19designtoolkit.com. We are in for the long haul – it is not a situation that will go away. Google has extended its voluntary working from home policy through to June 2021, and our own office in London, will only very gradually return to pre-COVID-19 status through this year and next. At that time, companies and landlords should not de-rail their longer-term objectives to create intuitive, flexible workplaces, and would be best advised to look at how to create an interim layer to manage and guide their environments through this next year.