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We spoke with Sheryl Schulze, Principal and Practice Area Leader at Gensler in Chicago, alongside Emily Kream, Irvine Company Director, Construction & Design, to dive into the ever-evolving future of office design. What we’ve learned this year is that agility remains one of our best assets.

Remaining both agile and strategic 

“Our recent experiences have shown us just how agile we can be,” says Schulze. “These days, being strategic involves a process that is expansive and flexible, because if one thing is certain, it’s that our planning must accommodate and embrace change.”

Kream agrees, stating, “We’re wise enough now to know solutions aren’t stagnant, because everything around us changes quickly.” But while speed is implicit in agility, making prudent decisions also requires strategy and thought. “Sometimes, when you think of agility, you think about quickly trying a bunch of different things to see what works,” reflects Kream.

“People want to find a panacea to solve for the return to work, and they’ll try a lot of different tactics. What Irvine Company does a good job of is vetting these rapidly emerging solutions, like UV disinfection or bipolar ionization, and only pursuing new tech once it’s proven to have efficacy. And at the heart of this strategy is really prioritizing solutions that will best support our customers’ success, and their health and wellness,” says Kream. Some of Irvine Company’s recently introduced solutions include enhanced in-building connectivity and optimal air filtration and ventilation as part of our partnership with UCI Health.

Reenvisioning workplace design

Another fluctuating factor we’ve discovered: the return to the workplace looks different for everybody. While many companies large and small are delaying their return to the office, some are starting reentry with a staggered headcount and still others are back in full swing.

According to a recently conducted study by Gensler, only 12% of people want to continue working from home full-time, and many are looking for immediate solutions. “Customers want to come back to the workplace feeling comfortable, secure and, as much as possible, able to go about daily worklife as normal,” says Schulze. “Workplace design plays a large role in that.” 

As part of Irvine Company’s efforts to help customers Come Back with Confidence, we’re ensuring we make smart, strategic decisions and are ready for customers whenever they choose to return. “We’ve reconfigured our common areas to promote social distancing, and we’ve also implemented comprehensive signage throughout each of these spaces to reinforce these behaviors,” explains Kream. “We’ve been successful deploying these design elements, and they give customers comfort and clarity about expectations, and how those expectations are being fulfilled.” 

Whether it’s through fresh and strategic tech solutions, or reenvisioning the future of workplace design, Irvine Company remains agile and ready to solve for the future, and ensure customers are equipped for success. 

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