BROOKLYN, N.Y. and EASTON, Conn., July 7, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on the way people work, and therefore has consequences for the ways companies need to look at workspaces and how employees work in them. Northeast-based design firm Stewart-Schäfer, a multidisciplinary architecture and interior design studio led by James Veal and Christine Stucker, announces the launch of a second enterprise to address office health and safety issues and create sustainable solutions for the future. DistanceDesigns™ will provide services and resources to create agile workspaces that help prevent disease spread and promote health, while also increasing creativity and productivity through data-driven design. In a recent survey, they found more than 69 percent of respondents would like to see design changes in their offices beyond health and safety measures. Pioneering the design-led concept of agile working, DistanceDesigns’ goal is to create lower density hybrid workspaces that are optimized for specific tasks, empowering employees to work where, when and how they choose and enhance their performance and do their best work.
“We solve problems through design. We believe that instead of simply reacting to the crisis by adding policies and procedures and placing desks six feet apart, there is a real opportunity to redesign the space and foster long-term productivity and creativity through activity-based spaces,” said Veal. “We want to bring together health and safety with the psychology of cultural change.”
Veal and Stucker, a married couple, bring decades of high-profile commercial and retail design experience, where they designed for the customer in mind, to respond to the immediate need for workplaces in transition. Now they apply this model to the modern workspace and design around the employee, the tasks they accomplish, and how they interact with their work environment to increase their productivity and ensure health and safety measures. DistanceDesigns’ proprietary model can be found in a detailed white paper on their website, DistanceDesigns.com.
The DistanceDesigns Process
In order to minimize the health risks of a traditional high-density workspace, a redesigned office around specific activities will future-proof the physical working environment to better meet the needs of a dynamic workforce. This new agile model will be a hybrid workspace that is optimized for specific tasks, while empowering employees to get the most of both home and office-based experiences. DistanceDesigns will achieve this model through their proprietary three-pillar approach, with each pillar supporting and reinforcing the others.
Pillar 1: Physical controls – systematic physical hazard removal to drive safer behavior at work.
To begin, DistanceDesigns performs a comprehensive audit of a business’ working environment to assess the entire working experience when employees are on-site including arrivals and entrance touch points, air flow and light levels, fixtures and furnishings, dining areas, mechanical systems, and general sanitation.
Pillar 2: Activity-based space design – a design suited to the activity space for which is required and fits the needs of a more agile and sustainable work environment for the future.
The design of the space must best fit the ever-increasing need of businesses to respond faster than ever before to achieve and maintain a competitive edge. Designing an activity-based space is borne from the idea of planning for the task and the work, such as a focus zone, designed for individual-focused work, or a creativity team area, for safe communal meetings with online remote integration. DistanceDesigns’ philosophy is based on assessing every space and asking “why?” raising questions such as: how will the space be used and does it support a specific task?; which tools are required to accomplish the task?; is it an efficient use of space?; and how does the space make the occupant feel?
Pillar 3: Policies and procedures – implementing policy and processes to reinforce the physical control of hazards and to promote agile working.
The third step is to develop COVID-19-specific policies and procedures to effectively support physical changes, as well as guidelines for remote working and recommendations for activity-based space that encourages agile working.
DistanceDesigns conducted a survey this month about workplace priorities and habits as people embark on a move back into the office after several months of working remotely. The survey, engineered by Pollfish, questioned 600 participants (100 percent of whom are currently working remotely) and covered topics from health and safety in the workplace to the importance of colleague collaboration and job performance. When respondents were asked what their biggest concerns are in returning to the office, nearly 32 percent answered “the inability to social distance” and nearly 39 percent answered their overall “health and well-being.” More than 69 percent of respondents would like to see design changes in their offices beyond health and safety measures.
If office space design was optimized for specific tasks (e.g. collaboration), 66 percent of respondents said that they would be more likely to want to undertake the specific task in an office. When questioned about how being an office affects career growth, more than 72 percent of respondents answered that they believe working in a physical office with boss(es)/manager(s)/mentor(s)/colleagues (as opposed to working remotely and individually) will help career growth.
“You can’t remove the office environment; we just need to change it,” explained Veal. “Even if COVID hadn’t happened and employees weren’t forced to work remotely, this is where the modern office space was heading. Now we have an opportunity to optimize the workspace while shifting the design operationally, culturally and habitually. The new environment not only increases wellbeing but it is also future-proofed and flexible to accommodate further changes.”
For more details on the services and background of the DistanceDesigns mission, please visit their web site at DistanceDesigns.com. The company is currently offering fifty percent off health and safety audits to the first fifty companies interested in redesigning their workplace.
DistanceDesigns™ is a company by the multidisciplinary architecture and interior design studio Stewart-Schäfer, which was founded to create agile spaces that prevent the spread of disease, promote health, and increase creativity and productivity through activity-based spaces. The two founders and principles, James Veal and Christine Stucker, bring decades of bespoke, ground-breaking commercial and real estate design experience to respond to the need for workplaces in transition. A data-driven design enterprise, their goal is to make safe, engaging, inspiring, and agile work environments. With over 20 years of experience in commercial and retail design, Veal and Stucker have worked with the world’s most prominent designers including Tommy John, Lovely Bride, H&M, and Thom Browne to elevate and redefine their brands. DistanceDesigns.com
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