Work: what we have learned from the pandemic

23 February 2021


The Covid-19 pandemic has imposed the biggest mass experience of remote working that has ever happened on a worldwide level. From what were initially emergency measures, today we find ourselves applying alternative and mixed ways of working, which bring to light new questions for companies related not only to employee wellbeing and strategies of human resources management, but also the design of workspaces. Spaces that should offer people experiences of value, because they are outfitted with the best services, in close connection to the context of the city. We talked about these issues with Despina Katsikakis, Head of Occupier Business Performance at Cushman & Wakefield.

Residenza privata, ph: Salva LopezPrivate Residence, ph Salva Lopez

I Remote working: what we
have learned from the pandemic

We have understood that remote working is possible, and that this forced large-scale experimentation has had its positive aspects. Despina Katsikakis reports that “over 75% of people are capable of concentrating and collaborating while utilizing remote work technologies. Over 90% feel that for the first time they are being trusted by their managers during remote working (+30% with respect to pre-pandemic findings).” But what are the main drawbacks for workers who no longer go to the office? And what are the risks for companies, to maintain and consolidate their “corporate culture”?
Since “over 78% of people want to hold on to the possibility of choosing how, when and where to work,” how will the workplace be transformed? Despina Katsikakis responds to these questions by talking about “an ecosystem that encompasses the home, the office and other spaces.”



II Personal experience and wellbeing:
a question of diversity

“The human experience and wellbeing of employees will be of central importance in the buildings of the future,” Despina Katsikakis says. But how is it possible to encourage healthy practices, also in the context of work done at home? How can we promote more humane and effective relationships, also through remote digital interactions?
“[Concentrating on the human side] is particularly important, because not only do we have five generations at work, but we have more neuro-diversity than ever before. So it becomes a fundamental opportunity to know what people really need,” both in the choices of companies and in the design of the workplace.



III IoT, real-time data and responsive spaces
for the offices of the future

What is the relationship between technology and personal wellbeing? Workspaces are already being outfitted with apps that allow buildings to interface with end-users in real time. Despina Katsikakis indicates the objects behind the use of these technologies.

Logan New York, ph. Mark MahaneyLogan New York, ph. Mark Mahaney

“I believe these interfaces, by creating predictive analyses of work models regarding both wellbeing and behavior, will transform the way we will use offices in the future.” Towards a technology that adapts to corporate change, as explained in the video.



IV The office as an experience of value.
Following the HoReCa example

“[...] In history, we have seen offices designed to represent rankings inside an organization [...]. That hierarchic alignment is no longer valid, because if we choose to come to the office it is to work with others, to connect with others in a creative way,” Despina says. So what will be the priorities of the workspace, and which new models will be developed in the layout of offices?



V The relationship of the office with the city

“Thinking about work as an ecosystem of places and events to respond to our necessities, convenience and wellbeing leads to a greater focus on the development of mixed-use spaces, and the need to relate to the city in a completely different way.” The urban dimension of offices is the new question that arises in contemporary spaces. The office and services building for mixed use at 22 Bishopsgate, London. Photo Etienne Mares.

The office and services building for mixed use at 22 Bishopsgate, London. Photo Etienne MaresThe office and services building for mixed use at 22 Bishopsgate, London. Photo Etienne Mares

“Because people are working more from home, we see an opportunity for regeneration on a local level, that of the street, transforming obsolete retail spaces into workplaces on the street, from which to construct ties with the local community.” Towards a new workplace that reconnects to the city and a lifestyle based on proximity.



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