We're Never Going to Work the Same Again

by Rick D'Amato
Design Director, Principal
LPA Design Studios

The work-at-home mandate is only a few weeks old and we can already see that it is going to fundamentally change the way we work as designers. And it is also going to change what the workplace looks like when we return to our offices.

Working at home is not stopping productivity; it’s making us more focused and more collaborative. We’re working harder to gather people together and communicate clearly and directly.

In the last few weeks, I’ve seen us becoming more effective in the way we’re working. People pick up a phone and talk in a way they weren’t doing before. We’re able to communicate more as a team, as well as have more conversations with clients.

A few days ago, we made a presentation to executives from a major automotive company in the southeast. It was a 4 ½-hour meeting where we introduced the design to the entire team, including two hours reviewing key details of the plans.

In many ways, the remote presentation was very efficient. Communication was clear and we were able to have a meaningful discussion and generate very specific feedback to move the project forward.

I’ve had several similar experiences in recent days. One comprehensive design presentation for a corporate client connected offices in Irvine, Los Angeles, San Diego and Boston. The presentation was seamless and the dialogue informative. And the virtual meeting saved time, took cars off the road and reduced everyone’s travel budgets.

News Never Going Work Same Again2
LPA's Healthcare and Sport + Recreation teams work remotely to review plans of a new Health and Recreation project

I can already see differences in the attitude of the industry to remote working. I’m working on a presentation for a potential new client with team members from our Irvine and Dallas studios. We don’t have to explain that not everyone is in the same room because none of us are. The client is also working from home. There’s no hurdle to explain why one person is joining remotely, because we all are.

These days, it doesn’t matter anymore if a member of the team is in a different studio. This allows us to bring the best people to the table. And we can spread the work holistically as a firm. We can formulate teams without needing all the members physically in the same office.

Already, we can see people getting better at working from home. I think people are even seeing a better quality of life because of it. There isn’t a need to get in the car to get to work; you’re home with your spouse or your kids or your dog.

In a weird way, it’s gotten easier to bring teams together. There are no complications about finding a meeting room or getting the meeting space up and running. It is much easier to pick up the phone and get a meeting together.

When we return to our offices, the efficiencies we’re finding are not going to be forgotten. Workplace design will need to adjust. This is certainly going to change how we view remote work. There’s not as much reason to come together as much as we did. We’re growing more comfortable with calling into a meeting from our desks and not using a meeting room.

We’re all used to dealing with things a certain way and now we are experiencing a different way to approach how we work. And we’re all experiencing this together.