Boston – SDI Architecture, an international architectural and interior design firm that develops distinct, custom designs, centered upon the user’s experience, reports it is seeing the impact of Zoom fatigue on both office design and office location firsthand.
Recently, the Boston firm has experienced a significant increase in demand for modifications to workplaces as companies prepare for a larger number of employees returning to the office. The reason for the demand for modifications, according to the firm’s representatives, is that companies are looking for ways to keep employees and employers safe as COVID-19 continues to spread while the country waits for vaccination numbers to reach a point where communities have achieved herd immunity.
“Earlier in the pandemic we saw a significant change in the areas where new construction was taking place as businesses moved out of the city and into suburban office parks which were less expensive and provided more outdoor space,” said Ben Williams, owner of SDI Architecture. “Now we are getting requests from those same companies to further modify these offices to allow for more employees in their workplaces at the same time, while maintaining safe distances and interactions.”
SDI reports a number of factors fueling the employee move back to the office, including the return to full-time, in-person learning for students, giving parents the option to work from an office, as their role as home-schoolers comes to an end. Additionally, as the weather warms and vaccinations rise, COVID test positivity rates and new cases continue to fall in recent weeks. However, it is the need for social interaction and a desire to reduce screen time in favor of in-person meetings that representatives of SDI hear as the most significant driving factors.
“While we don’t anticipate that most employees will be in the office five days a week, we do expect a move to a healthy mix of at-home and in-office work ,” continued Williams. “People are starving for personal interaction. In this new normal, most individual work will be accomplished at home, and the office will be primarily used as a gathering place for meetings and socialization. We know this is the case, as these are the types of modifications that companies are asking for.”