Elevating The Industry – The Seismic Shift That Was Long Overdue

Elevating The Industry – The Seismic Shift That Was Long Overdue

I don’t want to use the word ‘pivot’. It’s so overused. But I will, because you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. 

The global pandemic forced many in the commercial design industry to pivot.

  • What happens if people no longer ‘go’ to work?
  • What if corporate property portfolios are no longer needed?
  • What value do we bring if we’re not building anything?

At COMUNiTI we’d been exploring these outer edges of the industry for a while — we were delivering workplace strategies that pushed beyond office design, and that saw us collaborating with HR and Finance departments to address a mix of interconnected challenges — performance, people, property, profitability.

But the pandemic gave one almighty push in redefining mainstream definitions of ‘work’ and ‘workplace’, and if I’m honest, it has really elevated the discourse between the corporate world and commercial designers.

Clients we work with are often surprised when I explain that the notion of work being the 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, is 100 years old. Hat tip to the early industrialists Robert Owen and Henry Ford. It made sense for those times in their factories.

Fast forward 100 years and a global pandemic later, and today we are having a much bigger conversation about the notions of work and workplace with a wider group of executives to solve modern-day business problems, like:

  • How do people perform and behave in different spaces?
  • How can work foster wellbeing and belonging?
  • How do we create a workplace strategy focused on connection and collaboration, not just cubicles and corner offices?

It’s a far more interesting challenge than just fixtures and furnishings alone.  And, these are the conversations helping to deliver more value.

The concepts of work and workplace continue to be topical and I am often invited to share my insights on podcasts and in the media, and at events like the WorkTech conference, the Thriving Workplaces retreat, and Ted Talk-style breakfast series.

I am obviously not alone in this. There are many who are voicing their thoughts and providing leadership to shape the future of our industry. And it’s not just designers who are championing the conversation. It’s pulling in people from HR, Property, Finance, and Operations.

As COMUNiTI celebrates its 10 year anniversary, I couldn’t have predicted this kind of disruption for our industry, but it’s a change that’s leading to incredible innovation, great collaborations, new research, and a reminder that there is still so much to learn about people and place. It’s a change I welcome with open arms.

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