Pandemic Culture Shock Means We Need AAA Grade Offices

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

 

― Albert Einstein

 

I was struck while reading the fabulous article by Morgan Lovell on the evolution of the office that the changes we have seen in office design and getting things done have been driven more through changes in culture rather than practical considerations. Where culture dictates, function follows – such as the the implementation of Taylorist management approaches by large corporations who sought to use these ideals in the office as well as the factory.

 

To a large extent, modern offices have yet to shake off the core concepts of scientific management, but it is conceivable that the move through the pandemic to working from home may finally break the hold. The pandemic has proven that productivity can not only be gained through rigor and order – it can be gained through comfort and choice exhibited by the workforce in where, when and how they work.

 

The future, then, may be about flexibility and almost certainly be shaped by the culture shock that is COVID19 – through a greater understanding of wellness; a greater desire for care for the planet; and a greater ability to adopt technology to get work done. It is already beginning to fundamentally challenge the concept of the office and lead corporations to look afresh at their portfolios to reimagine their use.

 

Perhaps we need to consider how we measure office space in the future and make it easy to communicate the values that people care about, rather than talk of amenities, location or price. We need to grade the workplace in much the same way as the ratings agencies would a business or an economy. We need to look at the fundamentals and see if the workplace can attain the much sought after AAA rating that businesses and economies covet.

So, with a shift in culture upon us, what are the values we could use to measure whether a space is AAA? How about these:

 

Healthy – any building occupant needs to know that there workplace is safe and healthy. It should contribute to their personal wellbeing, not detract from it.
 
Sustainable – every building should be open and transparent about its carbon footprint and its sustainability. Measuring space on its detrimental impact on the planet should be shifted to measuring its positive impact. From polluter to producer.
 
Productive – buildings should be productivity amplifiers rather than regimented desk farms. Places where people do more than work – they socialise, learn, accomplish and plan. Great spaces will be the ones where people feel creative, empowered and way, way more productive.

 

So would your workplace attain a AAA rating for health, sustainability and productivity? What does AAA even look like? How would you go about measuring it? These are some of the things we will develop further as we explore what a great workplace looks like in the 21st Century together.

 

ps. It would be great to start a thread showcasing what you believe are AAA buildings today. Add links in the comment section below.