WELL has given us a proven set of tools to add to our toolbox, and interior designers are responsible for implementing a forward-thinking design. As an industry, we have sustainable knowledge and available technology used as a guide for future design projects. More than ever, it is time to adapt and work with the real estate sector to impact human health through responsible design. As a starting point, we should ask ourselves how our design allows people to thrive in the built environment. Then work on layering on what we can do to reduce our global footprint by minimizing water, energy, waste, materials, and toxins in our built environment. By honing in on these critical elements, we can identify ways to create a healthier setting for occupants inside a building.
We spend 90 percent of our lives inside, but naturally, we have innate physiological responses to nature as humans. One of WELL’s features, Nature and Place, can be awarded to projects by creating a biophilic design framework. Scientific studies have shown that the ability to be surrounded by nature has aided in reducing stress and positively impacts the mood and comfort level of occupants in a building. This feature can be easily incorporated into interior design universally through environmental elements, lighting, and space layout.
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Written by our very own Kara McGuane, IIDA, NCIDQ, Senior Interior Designer
Janet Morra, a principal and partner at Margulies Perruzzi, an architectural design firm, said much more will be required to make buildings “healthy and safe,” now that it appears a post-pandemic return to work may be possible, perhaps by this coming fall. “All the things we’ve been talking about over the past year have to be acted on,” Morra said of health-and-safety planning for office buildings. “And the time to act is now.”
“No one really knows how much space will be needed,” said Margulies Perruzzi’s Morra. “It’s anyone’s guess. This is all new. There’s going to be a lot of experimentation.” As the workplace dust settles, Morra said she expects office-building owners, as well as corporate tenants, to start measuring and touting the health-and-safety standards of individual facilities, possibly using the relatively new “WELL Health-Safety Rating” system, similar to the well-known LEED rating system that measures the sustainability levels of facilities. “I think it’s going to gain traction,” Morra said of the WELL Health-Safety Rating system. “Many employers are definitely looking for ways to get employees back into buildings. This may be one of the ways.”
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As vaccine distribution ramps up and a return to the office seems imminent, we can expect even more changes. A post-COVID workplace report recently published by Margulies Perruzzi and Kotter explores how leaders can keep up with the rapid pace of change while navigating lingering pandemic uncertainty, addressing mental health concerns and maintaining a strong office culture.
Successfully leading a company through this pandemic requires taking a hard look at how the work-from-home model has impacted psychological well-being and workplace norms. In creating plans to return to the office, leaders should keep in mind three key ideas: maintain flexibility, tap into a “thrive” mode and reinvigorate company culture. These guiding principles can help companies navigate the post-pandemic world with confidence.
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Caitlin Greenwood, AIA, IIDA has always been surrounded by strong women and has been inspired by many since launching her career as an architect. Tapping into this support system, whether it be family, colleagues, friends, industry partners, or even competitors, has resulted in a network of women who encourage each other to drive their careers forward.
Caitlin’s advice for young females interested in design and construction is, “There will be times that you are the only female in the room; use that to inspire you and push you further…”
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As a return to the office becomes imminent for many, CFOs must determine what it will take to make the workspace feel safe for employees. The pandemic-mandated shift to remote work has forever changed how we do business by encouraging CFOs and leadership teams to rethink physical office spaces.
The question remains: to what extent will these changes linger once we settle into a “new normal”? Click Here For Article