While most construction, architectural and engineering firms were deemed as essential during the pandemic and allowed to remain open, Covid-19 still caused a major disruption for the industries. Designing and building a new project is a creative, collaborative process, but suddenly face-to-face meetings and personal interactions weren't possible. This is part of a special three-part Business Journal Focus Section that looks at how the industries responded to these challenges, and how their operations may be different moving forward. Read the other two Focus Section stories here and here.
Rick D’Amato, a principal at design firm LPA Inc., said that in looking to the future, companies should be thinking less about how employees are going to return to the workplace, and more about why they're returning.
“We can solve all the ‘how’s,’ but what do you say to your employee to get them to come back to the office after they've been more productive, happier and profitable working from home? And really, do you want them back at the office?”
Despite the benefits of working from home, D’Amato said there’s still value to working in the office, including the opportunity to socialize and collaborate with others in a creative environment. But in today’s climate, the workplace has to evolve to survive, including providing amenities to give workers more flexibility and freedom, he said.
“Before Covid, everything was about the square footage per person and trying to get that down as much as possible. We were forcing people to work at their little desk surrounded by 200 other desks. The big lesson we’ve learned is we don’t need to warehouse our employees to make them effective. People are actually more productive when they’re not in that kind of office environment. We cannot expect people to go back to the way things were. We need to offer them something better.”