Design

The view from Silicon Valley: it’s all about choice

In our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, we speak to a leading Californian designer, a Dutch expert on smart buildings and an Australian advocate of mixed-use development about the post-Covid-19 world of work

With WORKTECH’s professional live conference series paused due to the coronavirus pandemic, we continue to reach out to our 10,000-plus Academy members, WORKTECH attendees, speakers, partners and sponsors through our weekly WORKTECH Wednesday Briefing, which shares new ideas, conversations and perspectives with our global network.

Our latest edition is posted 3 June 2020.

Saving grace in mix of spaces

Is the ‘cool’, socially connected, open office with team areas, gathering steps, living rooms and libraries, as pioneered by tech companies in Silicon Valley, under threat in the post pandemic era? Leading San Francisco-based designer Primo Orpilla of Studio O+A, who has plotted many of the tech sector’s pioneering workplace moves, doesn’t believe so. He suggests that in their provision of a mix of spaces and settings, these workplaces are all about choice – enabling workers to escape to quiet spaces, nooks and corners in a socially distanced way. As Orpilla explains: ‘With choice, social distancing is already baked into the design.’ You can catch up with Academy director Jeremy Myerson’s WORKTECH webinar interview with Primo Orpilla here.

Healthy motivation for smart

Will smart building infrastructure, which offers more data, control and insight to facility managers, emerge as one of the big winners in the post-Covid-19 workplace? According to a global leader in the field, Coen van Oostrom, founder & CEO of EDGE, and the man behind The Edge in Amsterdam, ‘smart in itself is not interesting at all. Smart is a tool that you use to set a goal…and that goal can be to have a healthy building.’ He explains that while data-driven buildings predate the coronavirus crisis – Deloitte’s motivation to develop The Edge was about winning the war for talent – their profile in the current office climate is growing. Watch a rerun of a WORKTECH Webinar interview with Coen van Oostrom by UnWork CEO Philip Ross here.

Mixed use is the way forward

The Covid-19 crisis will not knock the recent focus on user experience at work off course – instead it will accelerate a trend towards putting people before property, says Natalie Slessor, Head of Customer Experience at Lendlease in Australia. ‘We’ve broken the stigma of working out of the office and being able to do so productively,’ she says. ‘Long may we drive flexibility into people’s work-lives.’ Slessor has a new role at Lendlease which reflects the increasingly blurred lines between workplace, retail, leisure and urban regeneration – the future, she explains, is all about mixed use developments. Catch up with her views in the latest of our series of WORKTECH Kitchen Table Conversations here.

Returning to the new normal

Finally, there is another WORKTECH webinar to look forward to this week. On Thursday 4 June, four experts on the frontline of change swap notes as UnWork CEO and Academy chairman Philip Ross talks to Paul Statham, CEO of Condeco, Jamie Davis, Associate Director – Change Manager, Fidelity International and Chuck Cerria, Global Real Estate Director at FTI Consulting, about the post-pandemic workplace. Details here.

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