The Importance of Technology in the Strategic Design of Workplaces in the COVID-19 Era
It’s been nine months since the world stopped spinning, only to restart at a different rhythm. In a blink of an eye, our work environments and lives were reduced to a screen and a keyboard. We were forced to go virtual.
As a workplace strategist & designer at Shape in Washington DC, Araceli Torres Muñoz had to rethink her approach to work in that moment. However, the master’s in strategic interior design of Spaces at IE University allowed her to simultaneously explore new challenges and refine his existing skillset in order to provide his clients with encouraging critical and agile solutions. People are extraordinarily adaptable, and therefore the design of strategic interiors should focus on people, now more than ever.
Technology has served as ally in this change. This is an idea she has internalized since she completed the master’s at IE University. At IE Univeristy, students are encouraged to integrate technology in all the phases of the design process.
Araceli Torres Muñoz believes the four following highlights within strategic interior design explain how technology has become a main driver of change:
1. Technology to confront uncertainty, measure change and predict the future
Anything that cannot be measured cannot be improved. Understanding how employees work, their needs, routines, timings, etc is key to developing a knowledge base that serves as a foundation for strategic interior design. Making people feel part of the office design process is essential, especially now that working remotely can become an obstacle.
2. Technology to reinforce company culture and build engagement
One of the principal problems of the shift to working virtually is the feeling of personal disconnect. The problem is exacerbated when you consider that corporate culture currently drives office design. Co-creation platforms and gamification techniques allow us to carry out interactive activities, increase engagement with employees and receive feedback in real-time. This critical information helps companies build a more flexible culture that encourages continuous learning as well as helping transmit and reinforce its values.
3. Technology and leveraging virtual reality for architecture
We often find that it’s difficult for customers to understand detailed plans and schematics from behind a screen. With the integration of the BIM (Building Information Modeling) methodology and virtual reality technologies, designers can offer companies virtual tours of their future workspaces. During the master’s program, Araceli Torres Muñoz and her peers were taught to use technology to make complicated things seem simple and easily to understand.
4. Space and technology: A perfect symbiosis
The future of workspaces lies in flexible and connected spaces. We must emphasize the design of wireless spaces where walls, screens and furniture can move and adapt to the needs of the moment. We will see outlets and lights on rails, air stream systems integrated into each space and a generally flexible office space that allows its users to adjust it to their needs.
In short, technology has become the link between designers and the users of the spaces; it is the open communication channel between both extremes. The immediacy and capacity for data collection and analysis that new technologies provide are the foundations an interior design strategy should be built upon. They allow offices to become efficient and, above all, flexible spaces that attract talent and respond to the needs of their users.