Most employees have had a taste of the work-from-home life. Natalie Biles and Stacey Breezeel of Shine Interior Design Studios in Lonoke would like to imagine that this trial of remote work has caused employers and employees alike to rethink their post-pandemic workplace.
“The increased flexibility may allow for a culture shift that a company was wanting to make but didn’t know how,” Biles said. “On the other hand, it could slow production and efficiency for some companies, depending on the market or type of company.”
The business partners anticipate that the floor plate of the corporate office environment may decrease significantly. They would love to see more outdoor spaces incorporated into workplaces as has been seen with the restaurant industry.
“With the decrease in floor plate, we foresee more flexible offices — individual offices and desk spaces that may be cleaned more regularly and also rented out or reserved to make the most of the real estate,” Breezeel said. “We could also see more integration of public spaces with café-style seating and small lounge soft-seating environments. If the floor plate does not change and companies are fully staffed in person, we would imagine that more individual spaces and larger workstations that naturally provide more distance would be implemented.”
The atmosphere of a restaurant is a large contributor to its success. During the pandemic, restaurants adopted measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and automatic hand sanitizing solutions to protect patrons and staff. These measures certainly provided more assurance of safety and care as well as better sound levels making it easier to have a conversation. However, limited seating did not bode well for profits.
In order to keep the culture and light-hearted atmosphere alive at The Grumpy Rabbit restaurant in Lonoke, owner Gina Wiertelak found ways to spread out patrons by offering a multitude of environments for seating as well as flexibility for grouping or spreading tables apart.
“This variety of seating allowed for more socially distanced solutions while still providing an interesting atmosphere giving visitors a chance to try out new seats with each meal,” Biles said. “The culture and location of a restaurant will factor heavily into how patrons are spread out, but we believe that restaurants will continue providing multiple seating options and interior partitions to provide more separation. There are clever ways to create separation of spaces without creating isolation that negatively impacts the culture and vibe a restaurant aims to establish.”
The women see it as their challenge as interior designers to find ways to increase human comfort and find innovative ways to help people let go of some reservations and tension that they’ve held onto because of the pandemic.
“The interior space is meant to serve its users utilizing space, color, daylight, texture and many other elements that are available to designers to create healthy and uplifting environments that feel safe,” Breezeel said.