When Life Gives You Lemons: Design – Innovate – Protect
By Isabelle Odjaghian, NCIDQ, ASID, LEED Green Assoc.™
Using the lemonade analogy, we talked about the three key ingredients: lemons, sugar, and ice; in other words, the challenges, the opportunities, and what will stay constant.
Among the challenges we face, Sharon Crawford said that losing the cultural connection and continuity of going into the office has been felt by many. Mentoring relationships are not immune to the impacts of a now tele-connected world that feels the loss of face-to-face interactions. We also collectively feel the loss of work space variety, since working from home relegates us to one or two options.
Vicky Serany shared that the first quarter of 2020 was one of the most profitable for her company, but then business fell off the cliff. She called upon her experience from the 2008 market collapse to make swift cost control decisions. At first it was only one phone call in seven weeks; now they are hiring again, but with the unforeseen complications of having to write COVID-19 protocols and policies. No one could have predicted that business owners would be expected to write medical guidelines for their business operations.
With social distancing, how do we take what is a source of stress and/or isolation and create spaces that are comfortable and engaging? The importance of natural daylight was emphasized by the panelists, as well as creating spaces that are inviting and cozy, whether in the residential or commercial realm.
What changes are you already seeing and/or anticipating?
Carnela Hill highlighted the fact that since clients have been spending more time at home, it's piqued their interest in doing some work on their homes. However, panelists described how we have encountered major obstacles with supply chain issues and lack of stock due to manufacturers closing their factories.
The discussion broached the subject of protocols (or their non-existence) being followed by various suppliers and tradespeople when it comes to social distancing or wearing masks. The consensus was that the construction sector evidenced the least amount of compliance.
At the other end of the spectrum, our panelists were in agreement that employers are navigating a first hand, crash course in work/life balance, and seeing that a remote work strategy can still be effective.
Since working from home is still in our foreseeable future, the focus on proper home office design is gaining traction.
What can we expect from some of our overarching wellness initiatives? How do they impact solutions for space, product, and movement through space?
Embracing the well-building protocol in commercial design has come to the fore, especially regarding Indoor Environmental Quality. This encompasses the conditions inside a building – air quality, lighting, thermal conditions, ergonomics – and their effects on occupants or residents. One aspect that emerged was limiting the amount of contact with surfaces via touchless activation sensors, as an example.
Linda Sorrento shared a reference from a colleague that describes social distancing as “physical distancing with social connection” (from research by GSA). This is what this new era is all about: keeping our social connection while physically being safe. Brad Clinard from HP Financial Design also shared with us news from High Point Market, see the link below:
There was such a wonderful turnout with 33 participants. I am very grateful to our panelists Vicky Serany, Sharon Crawford and Carnela Hill, as well as our moderator Emily Walser; you all made this panel so interesting and full of great information.