Then & Now……The Future of Timeless Office Design in a Post-Pandemic Era

Our IDO office, shown here, was originally designed in 2006 and for the most part, was well planned with the intent to reflect our company’s values, brand, and functionally to serve our IDO team long into the future.  Then, the intent was to design spaces to be flexible, sustainable and adaptable to changes in our business without requiring costly redesigns in future years.  We referred to our design as “timeless”.

That was then, what about now?  To expand this thought further, I will use an example of our company’s recent data migration to the cloud.  Then, we would make a substantial capital investment in hardware and software to house our data on site in a local network.  Now, our data resides in the cloud.  Where we would have made a more long-term capital investment in equipment then, we now budget a monthly fee (or short-term monthly expense) for internet-based cloud services.

I use this example because I think it may be relevant when we ask questions around how we will be planning and designing Post-Pandemic spaces.  Will we be planning our interior environments to be “forever changeable”, untethered to the original design intent we once called timeless?  Will our designs be an endlessly changing mix of movable, flexible elements that are as adjustable as our own, now hybrid work schedules? And, how will we manage this need for constant change since we know our current environment will most likely not last the 15 years that our previous one did?

To explore these questions further, this recent “Today” Show story, explains how Google’s employees are reimagining their office spaces post pandemic.  Here, NBC News technology correspondent Jacob Ward received an exclusive look at Google’s design ideas, including outdoor workplaces and meeting areas that incorporate remote and in-person workers equally.

If we are now looking to create interior environments that support work patterns and structures that are not only different now, they are constantly changing, how does this impact our current thinking around standard design and planning strategies?  Furthermore, what is relevant today may not be tomorrow……  How long do we expect the age of Hybrid Meetings, Hybrid Work Schedules, and Hybrid Conferences to last before they lose their relevance? How much planning and design should we invest in when we do not know what the future holds?

When we think of things such as art, buildings, and literature as being examples of Timelessness, the age of “forever changeable” space may be thought of as a contradiction because something designed well is considered good forever.  Can these forever changing spaces co-exist with longevity?

In this evaluation we may find that the term timeless no longer means something that is devoid of a time stamp or style but “something that has an evolving beauty, relevance, purpose and function year after year, decade after decade, in spite of the constant changes it has been designed to endured.”

As we begin to navigate this Post-Pandemic world we believe the answers to these questions will be critical to the longevity of the environments we design.   In turn, the timelessness of our work will depend upon our willingness to rethink and relearn how our interior environments support the “forever changing” needs of end users as they face new issues that could not have been conceived when they were created.

The 2006 image shown here has changed.  We will be sharing our own updated “Office Refresh” later this year along with ongoing conversations around how we are “rethinking and relearning” and how we are now imagining timelessness in the forever changing interior environment of the future.

Please share with us, what are you rethinking about your own space needs and what are you relearning as you navigate this change?

Written by Jill Mendoza