IPUT – The New Calibration

On behalf of Dublin-based client IPUT, I was commissioned to illustrate a real estate report inspired by lockdown lifestyle changes.

IPUT is a visionary property developer that constantly strives to set the benchmark for quality in Irish real estate and property development. Making Place is their recent report which examines the incumbent changes in the property development industry and explores how new business models will enable digital technology within buildings to create value and relevance within cities and communities. View the full IPUT Making Place report here.

Post-pandemic, what are workers and citizens going to want from the workplace?

In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe. In an instant, office spaces in cities all over the world were laid bare and office workers were told to stay at home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. During this time, many people have been forced to transform their homes to function as work stations; dining tables were turned into desks, bedrooms into breakout spaces, and kitchens into water coolers. This experience has created unique first-hand insights into the pros and cons of bringing our work-life and home-life closer together in physical space. The result is a seismic shift in opinions, preferences, and prejudices around both office-based work and the importance of place.

Essential Workplace-Making The pressure is now on companies, commercial developers, and city authorities to understand what types of environments might draw people together in knowledge-exchange. Unlike an office, the use of such places cannot be dictated. Instead, like a park, the space itself must offer an experience that is appealing to its users.

The New Calibration What the recent lockdown period has shown us is that we now know that we can now technically work from home all the time, but we think there are social, cultural and economic reasons why we shouldn’t. We need to embrace technology and new ways of working but this needs to be alongside a renewed relationship with the office. Things will be lost if we choose to work from home full-time; and we mean over and above our need to be social, collaborative and feel part of our professional tribe.

Cultural Canvases Work is a cultural experience. Cultural Canvases are spaces that can be shaped, curated and programmed by people and communities. For companies, culture can help with employee engagement, satisfaction, retention and attraction, as well as with the establishment of a corporate brand and business direction.

Mind Gardens Work is a mindful experience. Mind Gardens are places that support people’s individual and restorative thinking processes.

Work/Life Separation Up until now, the narrative that work is fundamentally something separate from our lives has largely remained intact. The compartmentalisation of work and home is made obvious by the way people tend to disregard the workplace neighbourhood, while they are quick to prioritise and cherish the local environment around their place of living.

Street Classrooms Work is a learning experience! 79% of typically office-based employees believe that there are professional benefits to sharing a physical environment with their colleagues and managers.

Watering Holes Work is a social experience! Human-to-human interaction is a key element of everyday work and life. People in full-time jobs spend half the waking day at work on average, which makes the office a key environment for establishing social bonds, support networks, and even close friendships.

The New Foundation Well-designed offices can positively impact three physical scales: the street, neighbourhood and city while integrating people and sustainability for the planet. These spaces are more desirable, more resilient and prosperous for everyone!

Looking Forward Workplacemaking benefits everyone. Companies benefit from the bringing together of employees around shared tasks, and from their exposure to other industries and diverse experiences that lead to more crea-tive problem-solving. Cities benefit from the socialising of citizens with different backgrounds, skills, experience and outlooks. Commercial developers benefit from the making of more desirable assets, that are more resistant to the market fluctuations by taking root in the needs of people and place. 

A colourful illustration of commuting cyclists in Dublin

Connective Tissue The commute between the office and the home is the final important factor to consider in the shaping of future workplaces and workplace experiences. ‘Connective tissue’ is vital for accessing places that invite people to socialise, learn, belong, collaborate and think in the urban realm between the office and the home.