The Workplace Post Covid – What are we ‘returning’ to?
Our relationships with buildings outside the home has undergone a rapid shift. Coronavirus has presented challenges that are very immediate and apparent and we have to relearn how to use our workspaces to maintain a healthy comfortable space where we feel secure and happy. What is the nature of our workplace now and moving into the future?
At LEDA we are considering our return to using our office and the questions this raises after we have been working remotely. In our cooperative of eleven people there are a variety of home office set ups, routines and challenges associated with using home as a place of work. As isolation relaxes some of the difficulties of home working will be resolved, but challenges will remain including communication and information sharing.
In our work there are different modes of communication and different types of information to be shared. We need to have systems that facilitate effective sharing of key information and as human beings we need to know that the people we have communicated with are happy and satisfied with that information. The informal elements around which rapport and trust are grown are important for effective, meaningful communication. One challenge is to find ways to’ humanise’ the electronic communication and to provide enough opportunities for safe, face-to-face meetings to facilitate that fundamental human need to gather together.
We want to avoid risk to health and to support our feelings of well being as we re-adapt our workplace. As a cooperative we have taken the path of individual consultation with our members to help us gauge how people view their capacity to work and their appetite for returning to face to face meetings. We are using best guidance from the government and the construction industry about procedures to adopt for our safety and wellbeing and that of others, and to support each individual to reflect on their capacity to deal with the challenges of exposure to potential risks. This includes considering the perspective of all those we work with and the wider community affected by our activities.
At LEDA our focus is always to design for public buildings as places we want to use, that serve our needs, and address the future problems we face. The problem of climate change and the effects of building use remain paramount. Our task now is to bring our radically revised ideas about what a workplace should provide to our approach to designing buildings and bring health and well being for all to the forefront.