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Apr, 2021

TKB Newsletter – April 23rd, 2021 – Returning to Work: Redesigning the office Post-Covid

For the past year, remote working has become the “norm” for many, resulting in many major shake ups in how business is conducted. With numerous Covid vaccines now available, the serious questions are ‘how do we return to the workspace safely?’ and ‘what will be different?’. To answer, we must first look at how Working From Home and the pandemic have changed priorities and opinions about the workplace.

Remote working and WFH have significantly accelerated the shift from a workplace-centric to a workercentric approach, away from cost-revenue based designs aimed at getting the most workstations per square foot to designs meant to enhance the overall employee experience. Worker safety is the top priority. Safety factors include air quality and filtration, safety procedures, overall office cleanliness, and density; these are key factors in providing a sense of security that promotes worker well-being, happiness, and productivity. Equally important, employees are looking for a sense of belonging, community, and productive purpose; it matters whether the work they are completing from their living room desk is meaningful and  contributes to a broader goal.  While promoting safety from Covid, WFH has numerous downsides. Workers may struggle with a sense of isolation and disconnection from social engagement, collaboration, and productivity

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What do these priorities and concerns mean for the office? They present us with an opportunity to re-examine and re-design the workspace in a fundamental way. As architects, we are freed to creatively design for safe, flexible office plans that promote productivity and a shared sense of community whether in-person or remote. Hybrid offices allowing for both in-person and remote access are evolving. The primary function of the office may shift to a collaborative space, while individual desks would serve as plug-in stations and resource access. With the increased shift to remote-work,  hoteling will increase, freeing up space and costs, allowing for ever- greater focus on improvements that promote seamless collaborative communication. A successful office will be flexible, multipurpose and multi-modal. The act of working no longer occurs in a specific place; offices will reflect and further facilitate this change.


ARTICLES & RESOURCES

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/02/01/has-the-pandemic-transformed-the-office-forever

https://www.steelcase.com/research/topics/work-better/

https://www.hermanmiller.com/research/categories/white-papers/whats-the-future-of-the-office/

https://www.allsteeloffice.com/insights/blog/rethinking-administrative-workplace

https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/01/24/what-people-want-what-leaders-get-wrong-and-how-to-be-more-right/

https://allwork.space/2021/01/future-of-work-from-a-workplace-centric-to-a-worker-centric-world/

https://fortune.com/2021/01/31/how-offices-will-change-after-coronavirus-return-to-office-after-covid-19/

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/04/covid19-coronavirus-change-office-work-homeworking-remote-design/

https://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/Creating-Healthy-Workplaces-Means-Promoting-Happiness–19158

https://facilityexecutive.com/2021/01/post-pandemic-workplace-bright-light-plant-filled/

Dec, 2020

December 2020 – UIC Outpatient Care Center

TKB delivered design services for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Outpatient Care Center. Simple in concept, the project involved the replacement of a tile floor which had failed that covered public corridors on all four floors of the building.  TKB studied various replacement materials; UIC decided upon terrazzo, the preferred but more costly option, for the major public areas including the adjoining public bridge. Upper floors utilized a high-performing resilient flooring material.

  

The complexities of the project involved noisy and dusty demolition of old tile in a medical building operating six days a week.  With a team effort among the contractor, UIC’s project manager, and TKB, most demolition work occurred after hours, and the project was phased to retain the necessary pathways to exits and the adjoining hospital.   Construction documents outlined stringent protection, separation, public access, and exit requirements throughout the course of the project.

The public corridor changes adhered closely to the building’s original design concept, with simple patterns for the terrazzo and flooring designs.

Jan, 2020

January 2020 – UIUC Life Home Research Center Completion

This month marks the completion of construction on UIUC’s Life Home: Center on Health, Aging and Disability for the College of Health Sciences at the University of Illinois. The facility offers an interdisciplinary hub for health, aging, and disability research and observation space in a simulated residential setting.

TKB was engaged by the University of Illinois to design a 5000 SF new building for the interdisciplinary center. It includes a typical residential layout with two bedrooms, dining and kitchen areas, an open plan living space, and a fully accessible bathroom with tub and shower, all for-research purposes. One-way windows allow observational research into living spaces to see how users with accessibility issues engage with various products.  Cameras record the users’ experience for later analysis. The residential portion of the building simplifies the exchange of tested products.

Products and materials are tested in a laboratory space adjoined by a garage for ease of material delivery. A flexible conference / classroom space can be used by those engaged with facets of the product study:  students, researchers, industry partners and the community.  A movable glass partition opens the conference room to the adjoining lobby/break room for larger group access.  A small administrative area, two interview rooms, and back-of-house functions also support the research function.

The residential facade faces the street, with the academic portion of the building accessed from a rear parking lot.  Landscaping further enhances the residential feel.

Nov, 2015

Office Concepts

trib

A recent Chicago Tribune article addresses new office concepts and what they may mean for future office designs.

Office of the future: It’s all about you..

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