The Foreseeable Future

By Stanford Magazine Staff


Whether we walk, take a bus or subway, or drive to our jobs, most Americans can rattle off our average daily travel times without any calculations at all. We know when to walk out the door of our house or apartment, where to stand on the train platform, or when to change lanes as we approach our exit. But for many people who are now working from home indefinitely, all that knowledge is moot, as is, conceivably, the need to live in a certain place just because of the commute.

When people do start to return to the office, their workspaces will be different, according to Kimari Phillips, MA ’96, a senior research analyst at sustainable design firm LPA. Phillips says her firm will be using one of its offices as a prototype to try out more collaborative spaces, flexible layouts with movable furniture and walls, and desks—used by different individuals on different days—that all face one direction, to minimize the risk of virus transmission.

Not surprisingly, air quality has been a major focus as well. Phillips says her firm’s clients are more interested than ever in natural ventilation and outdoor meeting spaces.

“There’s something to be said for windows that open,” she says. “We know that daylight in general is important to our health and sleep cycles, and a lot of offices were leaning toward that. Now, it’s super important to have fresh air.”

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