Working from home – a designer’s perspective

Over the past few weeks a huge shift in office culture has occurred, with teams spread across multiple homes instead of one office. This has forced architects and designers to adapt, including everyone at KSS.

Coronavirus is affecting all our lives and with the UK lockdown continuing for the foreseeable future, taking care of our mental health has become even more important. Therefore, we have decided to support MIND in 2020 as our chosen charity.

Five members of staff have their say on the challenges of working from home and share tips on how they are working as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Keith Chan, Architect
“Working from home wasn’t particularly common for architects before – especially as the nature of our architectural work relies heavily on collaborative working and BIM modelling.

Personally, it’s also been a challenge staring at my laptop to model and design in 3D. I do miss the powerful computer and big screens at work! I looked in every corner of my home to find a good spot to settle for work, but ultimately nothing beats a proper desk and chair with a window view.

Everybody in KSS is staying positive with good humour, mutual understanding and patience with each other. We can get through this together via webcam chats and laughter. I’m sure at the end of this, everybody will be a lot more confident to work agilely too.”

Geoff Taylor, Associate Director
“Working from home after 42 years of either being on site or moving around the country, and previously much further afield, has taken a little bit of getting used to, but actually the wonders of Microsoft Teams, Zoom and good old fashioned phone calls have kept me relatively sane.

That said, it is so much nicer meeting with people “face to face” in real life, creating and maintaining relationships and just enjoying one another’s company, whether that be the internal environment or externally with clients, professional partners and the supply chain.

Perhaps there have been some efficiencies learnt over these last weeks, and there is an increasing reality that there will almost certainly be a “new norm” to emerge as we enter to the other side.

We need a healthy combination of quiet space, an interactive environment and dare I suggest creative fun space, so that the very best of each of us will bubble nicely to the surface.

So, it’s not been my favoured way of working, and I certainly don’t want it to continue more than absolutely necessary, but I’m getting through, and consider myself very fortunate to have a quiet place to work and the opportunity to step outside into the garden when required.”

Joanna Hyland, Architect
“Over the past four weeks I have learnt that routine is queen – not that I’m much of a spontaneous person anyway. I am finding it really helps to get up and get out. I am still commuting to work, but rather than taking the train into central London, I am walking round the block before heading back to the sitting-room-cum-office. I have found creating distance between work and home is key in maintaining a work-life balance. I am fortunate to have a garden where I can spend most of my lunch hour, definitely no lunch al-desko here.

The technologies available to us to connect with colleagues means that, although we’re not co-located, we can still communicate easily amongst our teams, and with consultants and clients. I hope there is a lesson we can take forward from this and consider whether much of our work-related travel is necessary.

I think I’m possibly being more productive at home as there are fewer people to talk to and it doesn’t take quite so long to get to the kitchen! But I certainly miss the office environment; what you don’t get whilst working from home is the chatter and the appreciation of what else is happening. You can learn a lot from hearing other people’s discussions, as well as offer your own expertise where needed.”

Neil Kaiser, Senior Architect

“Working from home has posed a few challenges in juggling the needs of a new-born, a 4-year old no longer going to nursery, and a home life with staying productive. We seem to have found our feet now after a couple of weeks. The main thing was establishing a daily routine that works for everyone in the house and managing expectations of what the new reality looks like.

Noah, the new-born really presents few problems particularly as he is our second, so we feel slightly more that we know what we are doing, as long as he is fed, clothed and has the odd sleep he is happy. The main trick that works for us is when he needs a sleep, I will put him in the carrier and he will sleep in there whilst I can work with him strapped to me and my wife can play with our elder son, Jake.

The real challenge is keeping Jake happy and engaged whilst I am working, and my wife has Noah. Working downstairs in the kitchen with everyone around seems to work better so I’m not so cut off. We have found a lot of (Star Wars-related) activities that can keep him entertained. Also, I feel the whole pandemic may have been a huge marketing stunt for Disney+, given the amount he has been watching!”

Debbie Drake, Associate Director
“From losing my daily routine to working on one much smaller screen there have been many challenges in the switch to working from home, but new habits are quickly forming to replace the old, some even with positive benefits.

Without my four mile round walk to work and constant communications with various teams in the office, I have a lack of daily steps and valuable ad-hoc conversations but our recent switch to Office 365 with Teams means that catch ups are now more focused than in passing in the middle of a busy office. It is now more than ever important to stay in touch. Then at the end of the day I shut down from my work machine physically and mentally for some evening exercise and tune in to the latest lockdown gallery tour or podcast. Stay inspired and stay safe everyone!”

For more information on MIND: https://www.mind.org.uk/

Published by
Dominic Fleming Marketing Coordinator
Published by
Dominic Fleming Marketing Coordinator

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