Thank you to all who joined us for the virtual panel discussion Redefining the Future of Workplace and Building Design on September 17. We had a record turnout and are thankful for the support of our panelists, attendees, The Urban Land Institute - Western NY Chapter and our corporate sponsor, Harris Beach PLLC.
Hosted by Bergmann and The Urban Land Institute - Western NY Chapter, the virtual panel discussion provided a number of insights related to the future of the workplace post-COVID-19. Here is a highlight of key discussion points. You can watch the full recording below.
Thank you to our panelists for lending their expertise, and Bergmann's Suzanne Lefebvre, Project Interior Designer, for moderating the discussion.
Congratulations to our winner of the Eames Hang-It-All Coat Rack, courtesy of our friends at Herman Miller.
Q: My company is exploring growth in new markets and prior to COVID were looking at opening small offices. But the points made about coworking are interesting. What factors should we consider now if we need to consider and choose between those options?
[The Group - Summary] A company needs to consider the nature of the work and organizational goals, importance of collaboration and the scale. Watch the video for the full response.
Q: Do you anticipate new programs becoming more common place in the workplace to blend a new normal? Formalized coffee shop? Library? Childcare?
[Shal Khazanchi] I hope so. Such forms of interstitial spaces will allow individuals to better transcend work-home boundaries and find “third places” within organizational space. Such spaces are important because they provide platforms for blurring of professional or occupational boundaries and have been shown to give rise to creative ideas and actions. These spaces also help in building both local (micro) and broader organizational communities that has been shown to increase retention and lower turnover.
[Michael Frame] The word meaning of the word “programs“ in this question is not quite clear to me. I do believe there will be new and expanded amenities that will help differentiate properties, but I think the offering will vary considerably depending on the location (suburban versus downtown) and depending upon what other amenities or features are in the immediate community/vicinity/eco-system. I do not believe there will be a prescribed set of amenities and features for any given property. To the question and specific examples, I do believe food amenities and childcare will always be in consideration.
Q: Shal alluded to some of the negative psychological effects of working remotely long-term, as a society do you think we will be able to combat some of these concerns before they become the next ailment that needs to be cured, will we always be reacting and correcting?
[Shal Khazanchi] I am not sure. I hope that we will think and act more proactively. To some extent, it depends on whether or not we can reimagine the purpose of office as that goes beyond increasing productivity for which everyone has to be at one location all together. More specifically, If we can think about who needs to be in office and for what purposes, then we can creatively design office space to foster role/work specific collaboration and creative problem solving, align with unique work patterns, as well as fulfill social needs.
Given that we spend a vast majority of our time at work, workspace is an important source of social interactions and, at times, even relationships. This is not to say that we should now convert office space into social clubs, rather it is to find a balance that allows employees to have meaningful interactions – work or otherwise – should they wish to.
[Michael Frame] I think others on the panel are in a much better position to answer this question than I am. That said, in an environment like we are in I do unfortunately believe there will be a good amount of reacting and correcting as we move down this pandemic path.