Written By Brian Felder Published By Commercial Construction and Renovation Magazine

SAVANNAH, Ga. - GeorgiaChron -- Millions of working people spent a third or more of their lives in the office until COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown brought that to a screeching halt. No one knew what to expect, and there was no time to plan for a mass migration to working from home at companies that were inexperienced in it. Fear and uncertainty are always disruptive, and there was plenty of it. Still, few companies were shutting down operations, they were simply happening from home. It was a great unknown, but most assumed this was temporary. More than half a year later, the remarkable adjustments made in real time are proving those assumptions wrong. As architects, our job is to keep up with what's happening in realtime and adapt to what's normal moving forward.

The pandemic proved to be the catalyst that forced people to work from home for their own safety, and it appears the option of remote work will not recede when COVID retreats. Indicators show productivity has remained high, pleasing owners and managers. Workers appreciate the flexibility. Companies forged ahead and, without much pain, put to work the minimally used software and infrastructure they already had in place. It's as if we were prepared to adjust to this without knowing it. In my office, only one person needed new equipment.

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Additionally, I've also yet to come across a single instance where an employee's sudden and unique challenges were met with resistance or insensitivity. It's become clear that people are the most important asset and relatively minor, reasonable accommodations go a long way to keeping them happy. Maintaining this balance will mean rethinking what the workplace looks like. To that end, smart owners turned to an analysis of what companies are spending on square footage and furnishings for employees. Expenses for new construction, property acquisition, lease rates renovation and more are all being reconsidered.

Moving forward, appropriate spacing that maintains the ability to collaborate while keeping people safe is the number one priority. At the same time, we must resist the temptation to hop on every bandwagon relating to surface cleaning, "new" air purification systems and other options that seem too good to be true. The research is underway. It's best to wait and find out what really works and how new HVAC systems will introduce more fresh air. I've personally seen half a dozen proposals that are no better than snake oil...

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Source: Cecilia Russo Marketing
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