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2020, was the year in which the world stopped. We reeled at the devastating impact of COVID-19 and following an initial lockdown, people and business began to wonder what was the future of workplace?

Beginning in August 2020, this piece of work was based on an invitation to undertake an in-depth workplace study for a Housing Association & Care Home Provider within their existing Head Office in Cardiff. Squaredot undertook the workplace strategy process under strict COVID compliant guidelines, gathering relevant data through an online survey, as well as a series of interviews and staff engagement workshops conducted over Zoom.

This first study for us post-lockdown proved to be huge success with a response rate of 85% to the online survey offering tremendous gravitas to the findings and a strong degree of accuracy in terms of our conclusions. Backed up by the interviews and the workshop, we uncovered a series of key issues that would enable us to provide a pertinent and flexible solution for the new world.

Not withstanding the effect that COVID-19 has had on business and society in general over the last six months, this study concluded that not only is there an appetite for a reformed agile workplace and culture but that the business is already partially there. It is also very clear that the existing office size exceeds business aspirations and that the existing landscape and settings cannot  efficiently support the desires of how the staff want to work, or indeed are working.

The study delved into all aspects of work and associated activities, both in the office as well as working from home. We reviewed working practices pre-COVID-19 and listened to what impact the enforced lockdowns had on the business and people. By identify various worker profiles and the split within the business we were then able to provide the business with a number of new models and space budgets that could inform the requirements and size for a new building and home to the business. 

Our recommendation was that a series of collaborative platforms based around a focal and socially interactive hub would foster an overall environment that can genuinely be called a Head Office 'Hub' that both staff and visitors can enjoy alike. Designed with care and passion, the centre should become a destination of purpose and enjoyment, allowing staff to flourish and develop with the business. If calculated with a sensible approach, and despite all of the potential restrictions that any social distancing guidelines may impose because of COVID-19, the flexibility could be the foundation for a building that is timeless.

Moving forwards, many businesses are seeing the benefit of designing a building from the inside out, based on the kind of learning contained within our report. With considered coordination between architect and interior designer, a successful building can be created which is designed for the people and based on their individual and collective requirements.

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