April 23, 2020
By Peter Kray
COVID-19 has already transformed our lives at home and at work. From a current discussion on the CSI Community, CSI members discussed what they think its long-term impact will be.
It is proven that we can do a lot more design work remotely. I think it would have taken 10 years for my firm to be this comfortable with this much staff working remotely, but we are seeing that our folks are still quite productive.
In fact, our firm signed up for the Architecture 2030 commitment in December, and our internal firm leadership review of the required sustainability plan happened about three weeks into our new stay-at-home protocol. The Partners are now talking about everybody doing a minimum of two days a week from home after this passes, just for the savings in fossil fuel consumption. I am certain they would not have come up with that before we had 100 percent of our staff working remotely.
Cam Featherstonhaugh CSI, CDT, AIA
The yin-yang of COVID-19
Yin and yang (or yin-yang) is a complex relational concept in Chinese culture applicable to current business practices in this era of COVID-19. This cosmic duality sets two opposing and complementing principles against each other in solving business and life situations. I would argue they are actually symbiotic relationships and are dependent upon each other.
Technology has become the great tool for communication, data processing, and design. It enables complex tasks to be performed quickly, efficiently, and correctly (for the most part). It has become necessary for business, entertainment, and life in general. How do we live in a world without Facebook and other electronic forms of social media?
Our reliance on technology has negatively impacted social, business, and reasoning skills.
Critical thinking is a necessary skill that is being lost, but is even more necessary in this COVID-19 period, when we may not have access to electronic tools or we need to consider options beyond the tools we have at our immediate disposal.
Total thinking is the implementation of this duality of critical thinking and electronic tools. Knowing how to use them together to solve the difficult problems we currently face is the solution. It is the marriage of old school and new school. Do not be stuck with only one way to solve any problem.
Dennis Hall FCSI, Lifetime Member, CCS, CCCA, CDT, FAIA, LEED
Great points Dennis! Your statement “Do not be stuck with only one way to solve any problem” is a good reminder for all to always have a plan B. With COVID-19 impacting how we work, live and breathe, it is making all of us rethink what’s truly important and how much we have taken for granted.
Alana Sunness Griffith, FCSI, Distinguished Member, CCPR, CDT
There are a few things that I see coming out of this in these areas.
How we work
As Cam mentions, the projects do not seem to be falling apart just because we are not all in the same office. Our office has been resistant to staggered work hours (with few exceptions) and I think there will be new acceptance of that, especially so people can commute during non-peak hours. We have actually had higher remote ‘attendance’ at our all-staff meetings than we typically get in person. We are exploring the use of remote cameras for our site visits.
The work we do
Office planning has been moving toward stuffing as many people into the space as possible, and I think we are going to see owners want to provide their staff with more space. The idea of ‘hot-desking’ may be a quick fad that is over with (will anyone ever want to share a desk again?).
The lives we live
I think everyone knows how much of a waste commuting is, and around our office I hear more people are sleeping better, eating better, and getting more exercise. We might want to structure our lives going forward to incorporate those things a little more.
Anne Whitacre FCSI, CCS, LEED AP
Positive outcomes of shelter-in-place era
(In my humble opinion)
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