The New World of Work

I haven’t worked in an office in years. In fact, I’ve probably only commuted to an office for seven of my 22 years in trade publishing—and those years were not consecutive.

Publishing has been a mostly digital business since the mid-2000s, so it has been easy to have an art director in one city—say Durham, N.C.—while the editor is in Chicago. When the 2008 recession negatively impacted the design and construction industries and, consequently the magazines serving those industries, many publishers made a cost-saving decision to send staff home with equipment in tow to minimize the overhead of actual office space—and avoid layoffs.

I’ve become quite adept at prepping dinner, throwing in a load of laundry and answering contractor questions (during my recent home remodel) while taking an issue of this magazine to the printer. I certainly take advantage of the many benefits of working from home, like editing on our deck for as many days as the Midwest allows. Don’t get me wrong: I’m still highly efficient. Publishing is very deadline-oriented and my life revolves around deadlines every single day. There’s no slacking at my house!

Similar to how the 2008 recession sent many trade-publication staff members home to work, another crisis, the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, sent nearly everyone home to work, attend school, hit the gym, etc. And in the ensuing years, the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt in the design of office spaces: We now know an office must be as comfortable as working from home.

Back when I worke in offices, none of them looked anything like our “Cover Story”. The Los Angeles headquarters of Saatchi & Saatchi, a global advertising agency, looks like a place where you can show up in slippers, lounge on a couch with your laptop, convene with your colleagues to watch a client’s ad campaign in the cozy media room and then end the day with a beer from the kegerator. There’s not a cube farm in sight! If I had to work in an office again, I would happily carry my equipment to Saatchi & Saatchi’s office space.

Contributing Editor Jim Schneider writes in “Business” that COVID ultimately accelerated flexible workplace trends that already had been percolating. More human-centric designs are becoming commonplace, allowing employees to do their best work in a way that’s most comfortable to them.

In addition to comfy, flexible spaces, building owners are thinking about the health of their buildings: IAQ has become a top priority—as it should be while we continue to grapple with COVID. You may notice that many of our Top 25 Products, which are products that received the most clicks on our website this past year, assist with IAQ. See the “Special Report”, featuring our 10th annual Top 25. Then turn to “Component” to read about three HVAC projects that demonstrate energy efficiency and IAQ within three very different buildings

Because I’ve worked from home for so many years, my work routine didn’t change when COVID hit. The only transition I had to make was adapting to Zoom and Teams meetings from old-fashioned, no-one-sees-me phone calls. Although I miss the days of no makeup and messy ponytails, I’m not yet relaxed enough in my work-from-home routine to avoid styling my hair and going barefaced on Zoom. Maybe in another decade though …

About the Author

Christina A. Koch
Christina A. Koch is editorial director and associate publisher of retrofit.

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