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Toolkit for the Times

What we most want now is what we don’t have—certainty. As our understanding of this new reality remains unsteady and our expectations of what comes next get revised daily, the absence of certainty creates a situation only combat veterans and inhabitants of war zones know from experience. We are all inhabitants of a war zone now—and yet, we must continue with our lives. This guide represents the work of O+A’s best planners and designers to apply what we know now to a work environment that everyone agrees will be radically altered. At this writing the CDC’s guidelines have undergone several iterations. The ideas presented here are necessarily based on a wellness consensus established over the early months of the pandemic—the need for social distancing, face coverings, heightened hygiene, improved circulation. Our team has looked at every aspect of the workplace from the parking lot to the in-house café and determined how these spaces may be adapted to a post-COVID-19 reality. Jump to toolkit download.
What we most want now is what we don’t have—certainty. As our understanding of this new reality remains unsteady and our expectations of what comes next get revised daily, the absence of certainty creates a situation only combat veterans and inhabitants of war zones know from experience. We are all inhabitants of a war zone now—and yet, we must continue with our lives. This guide represents the work of O+A’s best planners and designers to apply what we know now to a work environment that everyone agrees will be radically altered. At this writing the CDC’s guidelines have undergone several iterations. The ideas presented here are necessarily based on a wellness consensus established over the early months of the pandemic—the need for social distancing, face coverings, heightened hygiene, improved circulation. Our team has looked at every aspect of the workplace from the parking lot to the in-house café and determined how these spaces may be adapted to a post-COVID-19 reality. Jump to toolkit download.
  • Year 2020

  • Team Primo Orpilla, Lisa Bieringer, Elizabeth Vereker, Laura Hapka, Al McKee, Paulina McFarland, Lauren Perich, Priyam Mehta, Sharon Sclarr, Sarah Hotchin, Chelsea Hedrick, Minnee Pham, Cathy Barrett, Kurt Ridgeway, Zoe Albean, Kokeith Perry, Edan Maoz, Emily Cano, Dan Kretchmer, Rachel Menesses, Dani Gelfand


First Day Back

You will find specifics here about workstation placement and conference room protocols—specifics that will be updated regularly as new data become available—but the heart of our effort is to identify how the experience of work will change. A built environment always exists on two levels: as a physical space and as a human experience. Now more than ever the trust and confidence we bring into a workplace will be as important as its interior architecture. The challenge ahead for landlords, tenants and designers alike is to find a way forward that builds that trust and rewards it with a safe environment. It’s a challenge we will face for some time to come. Of that we may be certain.


The Psychology behind COVID -19

This will take some getting used to.

Psychologists tell us our opinion of a person is formed almost instantly in the first seconds of acquaintance. This is likely the case also with buildings—particularly in the era of COVID-19. The outside approach is a first indication of an owner’s commitment to wellness and security and a tenant’s commitment to the safety of their staff. That first glance outside must inspire confidence for the spaces inside to have a chance of feeling safe.


Wayfinding/Navigation

Looks Good

Before COVID-19 the purpose of a lobby beyond its logistical function of getting people into the building and on their way to the proper floor, was to welcome them and communicate some relevant cultural message: cutting-edge tech headquarters or eco-friendly LEED certified facility or Art Deco gem. Post-COVID-19 those messages are still important, but more important is the message: safe building.


Implementation

Apart is the New Together

Masks, gloves, six foot separations, walk this way, walk that way—the restrictive measures required to keep a building safe also add to its users’ stress levels. Of equal importance then are design features that communicate the smile behind the mask. Since we can’t know how long these COVID-19 mitigation policies will be necessary we must work to make “the new normal” as comfortably normal as possible. Amenities can help in that effort.


Products & Technology

You’re Home. Now It’s Changed. 

Now more than ever, building maintenance, trash and cleaning practices, proper ventilation, heating and cooling, back-up power and connectivity are crucial. A building that is demonstrably healthy reassures occupants that their personal health is secure. New technologies are also lending themselves to that reassurance offering a range of products that were created to regulate safety and prevent the spread of germs.


Posters

Signs of the Times 

When we are finally able to get back to the office, we’re going to have a lot to remember. Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, don’t touch that orange! (Actually, that orange is probably going away). Adapting to a new normal in our old work environments is going to take some getting used to. As part of O+A’s ongoing effort to develop design strategies for the post-pandemic workplace the graphic artists at our Brand Studio have created helpful, friendly reminders of all the stuff we will need to keep in mind as we’re coming back to work.

 

Download the complete set of posters here.

 

Covid Toolkit Download

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COVID-19 ARTICLES FROM AROUND THE GLOBE


 

“Cohesive Design To Transition Between The Home Office And Workplace” Work Design Magazine

The design lines between home and workplace have been increasingly blurred in recent years, and now is the opportunity to create synergy between the two.

“3 Effective Ways To Improve Building Ventilation” All Work.Space

The coronavirus pandemic has come to accelerate several workplace trends. Among them, and a key concern for investors, landlords, CEOs, and employees alike is the need to create healthier buildings.

“Big Tech Companies Want to Help Get You Back in the Office” Wired

Alphabet, Microsoft, and Salesforce are offering services to track employees, arrange tests, and record results—all while most of their staffers are remote.

“Designing for Equity and Well-Being in the COVID-19 Era” Metropolis Magazine

Hana Kassem, principal at KPF, and Jonsara Ruth, cofounder of Parsons’ Healthy Materials Lab, outline the effects of the built environment on our well-being.

“These companies plan to make working from home the new normal. As in forever.” CNN

The coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to embrace work-from-home solutions. For some, the transition may stick.

“The Future of the Sharing Economy in the COVID-19 Aftermath” Archdaily

The sharing economy, an economic system that involves individuals renting out or sharing their personal property including their homes and cars, has been severely impacted as the wave of COVID-19 ebbs and flows across the world.

“Architects Revamp Workplaces for Social Distancing” Architectural Record

Reducing the number of employees coming to work on a given day is an obvious way to maintain social distance; modeling by engineering firm Buro Happold indicates that occupancy levels up to 40 percent are possible without any design changes.

“A Day in the Life: Going Back to Work in China” Gensler

As the COVID-19 pandemic expands and more countries around the world implement strict nationwide quarantines, in China we are slowly experiencing the next step: going back to work. Here’s what we learned during our return to Gensler’s Beijing office.

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