Blake Dowling: The new office
(Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield)

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Things have changed so much, to go back entirely to the way they were just might not be in the cards.

What are our offices in Florida going to look like in the coming weeks and months?  Will things go back to “normal?”

In recent years “open office” floor plans became super hip, featuring colleagues in collaborative workspace together.

Currently, Florida’s workforce is deployed in a remote model like never before seen in modern times.

So, what happens next?

I reached out to Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce VP Jay Revell to get his take on things: “Office cultures will certainly be different – it’s hard to imagine that remote work won’t become a larger part of everyone’s professional lives.”

Super-cool collaboration spaces at Facebook HQ and other Silicon Valley institutions are not going to be cool anymore; they don’t provide the space or distance that people are going to want going forward.

People are going to want their personal space when they head back to work. There is a real estate firm called Cushman and Wakefield, who has been working on a new office concept called the “6 feet office.”

Image via Cushman & Wakefield.

This model follows social distancing guidelines, putting more space between workers. It’s not just a raw concept; this is an actualized concept being used all over the world.

You can check it out here; we will see much more of this in the coming weeks/months as people start moving out of crisis mode.

Be sure to check out the visuals in the video (as well as the images) where personal space is clearly defined with black circles/areas around the workspaces.

There is a clear “get off my lawn” vibe going on here if you were to get too close to this defined personal space.

For a better idea of what is going on in the office space, I spoke about the situation with Structure Commercial Real Estate Managing Partner Daniel Wagnon in Tallahassee.

Wagnon said:

“The current COVID-19 crisis is testing society on multiple layers, including ushering in more agile and fluid working environments. It’s about having greater flexibility in how we work that can actually give opportunity to a more diverse workforce.

“I believe the Cushman and Wakefield article takes a sensible approach to the post-COVID-19 office design, including the idea of creating proxemic circles to direct how workers interact, the use of way-finding mechanisms.

“All these considerations give employees a sense of safety while returning to their regular work setting.  The one concern you have is the thought that this could be more a reactionary approach than a sustainable one.

“The interdisciplinary approach of incorporating technology using both hardware and software (installed by great teams such as Aegis, of course!), the enhancement of clean air HVAC systems within the offices and even down to the type of material used in the construction of the furniture and offices that hold germs.”

A modern yet distanced and private office layout. Image via Structure.

Wagnon makes some excellent points on all fronts, but think about his reference to air quality, especially in light of the current health crisis.

How many of our buildings use HVAC systems that recycle air?

Moving on, these new office concepts do not factor in individuals who may not want to come back to work or those employers that might see some cost savings not having to pay rent on multiple office spaces, etc.

Next, I spoke with Brad Swanson, president of Florida Internet and Television; he had this to say about what our business world might look like going forward:

“Whatever the new normal office environment is going to look like connecting to co-workers through technology, will be that much more important for business success and the health of employees everywhere.”

I believe a hybrid approach to the work model is ideal. With most of our staff currently working remotely, we have seen unprecedented productivity from our team.

For the handful of staff still at the office, they are also working at an extremely high level as we are not able to distract one another.

I am guilty of being the biggest distractor on the team — I just emailed out the new Geico commercial featuring rockers Ratt to all staff with a greeting of “have a great day.”

To be fair, it is a fantastic piece of advertising:

Besides my 80s metal distractions, I have not seen laser-focus like this ever; granted, it was needed as most of the work we have been doing is making sure North Florida can work remotely as the wave of requests began in mid-March.

It was like what Bohdi (Patrick Swayze in the film “Point Break”) called the “50-year storm.”

Yes, it was massive, but there were zero complaints here, especially with so many out of work or struggling.

To be sure, it is an honor and proud moment to play a small part in helping keep businesses in our region functional this spring.

Things have changed so much, to go back entirely to the way they were just might not be in the cards — entertainment, hotels, conferences, sports, doughnuts (essential), offices, elections, etc. There will be a new world order of doing things.

I hope everyone stays safe, gets healthy if sick, and gets back to work if unemployed. I also wish there is some college football to look forward to one day.

Speaking of football, as we head into more unknowns, let’s close with a few words from one of the game’s best. We could all use a little inspiration today.

“I may win, and I may lose, but I will never be defeated” — Emmitt Smith.

Be safe, everyone, and cheers to a healthy Florida one day soon.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies; he also hosts the Biz & Tech podcast and writes for several organizations. Dowling’s Zoom virtual background screen is also fantastic. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Last updated on August 29, 2020

Blake Dowling

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. His technology columns are published by several organizations. Contact him at [email protected] or at www.aegisbiztech.com



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