COVID-19 has turned the world of work on its head, forcing through tectonic changes in the way we communicate and collaborate overnight. During lockdown and shelter-in-place orders, office occupiers have had to work remotely en masse – something many believed was impossible, or were reluctant to try. We have turned on our video cameras, and we have seen each other’s living rooms and worn-in hoodies and met families and Zoom-bombing pets. We have asked “how are you?” and meant it. We have new insights into what life must be like on the International Space Station, and into why actors dread working with children and animals. Whatever the future holds, it seems unlikely that we will ever look at our offices or our colleagues in the same way again. So when we do finally go back, what kind of place do we want the workplace to be?

Over the coming weeks, WSP will be looking in detail at how the office will evolve, from whether we could ever engineer a “virus-proof” environment to how a working from home revolution will affect demand for commercial space. How can employers transform their spaces into FOMO-inducing, must-go destinations, and what role will smart technologies play in all of this? Will sustainability be boosted by the adaptations we’ve made, and what does a “flexible” office mean as we consider resilience to future pandemics?