It’s maybe the most overused word of the year, but for good reason.
Personally, and professionally, we’re living in unprecedented times.
In some ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has simply accelerated current construction trends. However, in some instances, it’s entirely changing how we design and build.
It’s hard to imagine now, but nine months ago we weren’t concerned about social distancing, our Zoom backgrounds, or our favorite face covering for the office.
And yet, here we are. All doing our best to, well…be our best.
There’s a lot still to be written in this story, but here are a few learnings and observations our Built team is seeing as we engage our clients across the Midwest.
- Touchless installations are on the rise – whether it’s setting up glass dividers in schools across the region or installing touchless doors and bathroom fixtures, we’ve done a lot of work lately to create more touchless and socially distant interior spaces. The glass dividers will eventually go away. But the touchless technology such as doors, light fixtures, and restroom facilities, won’t.
- No project is too small – never before has the need to be nimble been so apparent. With regulations and best practices changing by the day it seems, having a partner to change alongside the shifting winds, is vital.
- Imbedded technology is no longer a luxury – seemingly overnight, we went from imbedded technology being a “nice to have” to a “must have.” Beyond the obvious like computers and lobby displays, our team is imbedding technology at every touchpoint of an office, healthcare, or school environment. Videoconferencing, infrared temperature screenings, virtual whiteboards, and in-wall monitors are just a few of the most popular solutions our clients are deploying. And the trend isn’t slowing. We’re just getting started with integrating technology into our environments.
- Adaptability is key – The modern office, healthcare, or education space is evolving into so much more than cookie-cutter walls and doors. Through design elements like curtain walls, our clients have the ability to make shifts to their space and redesign entire areas of the building, in real-time. Similarly, with core systems built into our raised floors, ceilings, and walls, we can support adaptable power and data infrastructure to all areas of the space. All without seeing any of it.
- Work from home is working – Now let’s talk about the elephant in the (conference) room: Most of us aren’t working at the office right now, at least not the full week. It’s a trend that was growing over the last decade and was just a flame until COVID-19 dumped a can of gasoline on it. The fire will burn down eventually, but working from home is here to stay to a certain extent. However, this doesn’t mean that offices are going to go the way of the pager. Employees will return to the office eventually, but not necessarily all at once. We’re seeing more companies investing in their spaces right now. They are building out collaborative space to meet the needs of new hybrid workforces, where only 40-60% of staff are in the office at any given time. This means more transient office space and open-concept collaboration areas, rather than traditional offices and cubicle farms. We love this, because it greatly opens up the design possibilities for our designers to get creative.
- Creativity has been sparked – Whether it’s reimaging entire hospital floors, transforming empty education space, or making an old office area come to life in vibrant ways, this adversity has sparked a new sense of ingenuity, resilience, and creativity. We’re also seeing our clients add personal touches, such as different graphics, colors, and art built into the walls, glass, barn doors and other elements of the space. Monotone is no more!
So why all the investment in our healthcare, commercial, and educational spaces, despite the complications and uncertainties of COVID?
The answer is pretty simple: the evolving modern environment is so much more than walls and doors. It’s even more than just a productive place.
It’s all about the experience, whether that’s for your patients, your students, your team, or your clients; you want to build an environment they’ll love, one that will make them feel safe, and one that’s inspiring.
The COVID-19 pandemic is turning a lot of industries upside-down, or even inside-out. It’s certainly had that effect on ours. It’s forcing us to evolve, create more efficiencies, and reimagine what’s possible.
Sure, it’s presenting some challenges for us in the short-term from an industry standpoint. But I believe it has accelerated our need to create innovative, simplified spaces — always through the lens of the experience of those who enter our doors.