People are talking about the “new normal” and the great reset. But if there’s one small silver lining from all of this, it might be that work from home works. For the most part.
Working from home has suddenly become a viable alternative to going to the office five-plus days per week.
The Bay Area’s shelter in place order happened so fast there wasn’t time for an orderly transition. Any plans for a gradual shift of equipment, programs, and staff was out the window. We had no choice but to make it work. There was a learning curve for everyone; managers and employees alike, with many challenges. But it turns out we can be pretty productive at home when we have to be. Obviously, nothing replaces the physical office, and most of us want to work at our workplace. Creative collaboration through Zoom has been a real challenge, and so have client meetings. But overall we are finding creative ways to make work work.
I think some work from home in the future after this is all over could facilitate better work life balance. Designers tend to work long hard hours, and I can imagine a flexible work week where we choose our schedule, work from home a day or two per week and get together at the office when we need to collaborate, have an internal strategy session or meet with a client. Like everyone I also welcome the reduced traffic and clean air we now have all of a sudden.
One thing about a crisis—it tests our capacity to balance worry with hope.
The massive coordinated effort we are all participating in to keep ourselves and others safe has been awe inspiring. The generosity of individuals and companies in helping where they can, like supporting essential workers and re-tooling to make masks and equipment is something I hope to see continue. We have many more problems to solve after this! As a society we are realizing that we are fundamentally interconnected: people and planet, and that together we can make massive change — fast.
I also think companies are realizing they can’t continue to do business as usual; business for profit alone. Our interconnectedness coupled with our overburdened and fragile environment have shown that a new normal is a must for sheer survival. The firms that make it through this crisis are already re-tooling to play a larger role in addressing needs beyond the bottom line, to give back in big ways, and to create not just sustainable models, but regenerative ones, where we return more than we take. As experts in the lived environment Interior Designers have essential expertise to share and only through teamwork can we get to the other side. Because our task is to make spaces better for people, interior designers are already inherently generous in spirit. But now our task is bigger as we realize spaces are only better for our clients when they are better for people everywhere.