According to Koos de Keijzer, founding partner and principal of DKO Architecture, the pandemic has certainly forced DKO to adapt and evolve its workplace environment quickly.

“We rightly or wrongly made the decision quickly to move to a week in the studio and a week at home environment,” says de Keijzer, adding that the idea was to “Always have 50 percent of the team in the studio.”

“This was driven by a concern about cross contamination. Currently we are more concerned with social distancing, which we think will be with us for sometime. This has forced us to redesign our studios to give more space around each work station. So all our studios are being dedensified.”

“Clear circulation paths are shown on the floor where possible.  The zoom paradigm has changed the way we work also. It has facilitated daily team catch-ups and certainly a number of client and council meetings. I’m not sure Zooming is the most effective communication tool and I believe in the new normal only about 20 percent of our meetings can be zoomed,” he says.

“We temperature check everyone who arrives at our studios and hand sanitisers are on every desk. After each meeting tables are wiped down. Our cleaners come to the studios every evening.”

“One unintended benefit has been DKO TV streamed across all our studios.   It allows us to have Friday drinks as a larger team and addresses the social connection that we’re all craving,” notes de Keijzer.

As to how his firm is finding the new work paradigm, de Keijzer says that, “We have adapted fairly quickly because the workflow has kept up. We had to make sure we were still delivering for our clients.

“This has meant that we’ve had to purchase many more screens to allow for people to attend meetings from home easily. The adaptations we’ve put in place have been working well.

“Are we working as efficiently as we were?, probably not,” he says, however “architecture and design is a rigorous process and requires constant interaction.”

“Certain stages in projects for example construction documentation are relatively easy to do remotely. The design stage probably works better in a studio environment. In our new normal we will probably have the team four days a week in the studio and one day a week working from home,” he says.

As to what are some positive results of this working arrangement, de Keijzer says, “ one positive is that workplaces have become a lot more flexible to allow for people to work from home efficiently.”

“Even work hours have had to become more flexible. Another positive is that our team sick days have dropped substantially, we believe that this is a subset of social distancing, the extra space meaning that the team is not being cross infected by the common cold or the flu.”

“We’ve seen a rise in kindness and a sense that we’re all in this together. In a way, that has brought the team together, albeit not literally,” he says.

Image: / photography: James Braund