The event began with an introduction by Harsha Kotak, founder of Women in Office Design (WOD). The question was then debated between May Fawzy, Interior Architecture Director at MF Design Studio; Amanda Salt, Global A&D Sales Director at Boss Design; Katherine O’Callaghan-Mills, Design Director at Area; and Gurvinder Khurana, Director at Align.
Amanda Salt started the debate by outlining some of the reports and opinions from major players in the market. She continued by stating:
“The workplace has to be an experience – a place of communication. We learn best from working and collaborating with each other.”
May Fawzy supported this view and added:
“Whilst technology has been the big facilitator to different ways of working, we can’t create a culture over a screen. The workplace is so important for supporting the business values of any organisation.”
“We must use this time as an opportunity to gain an understanding of what employees need and want,” continued Kathryn. O’Callaghan-Mills. “The individuality of each business will drive the solution.”
Gurvinder Khurana raised a really interesting potential outcome for the future. With smaller, more local workspaces potentially opening within regional towns, new occupants will create additional customers for the struggling shops and eateries in the area. She explains:
“New business models, such as ‘hub and spoke’ offices, will potentially reinvigorate town centres and high streets within ‘edge’ towns beyond the main metropolitan cities.”
Health and well being has also climbed the agenda. Gyms, prayer rooms, wellness centres and outdoor spaces will become increasingly important and fundamental to encouraging the return to the office.
The conversation also embraced environmental issues as well as the speakers’ own experiences in business during lockdown.
The most important ‘take away’ from the debate was, arguably, the need to create an environment where people can be “happy, healthy and productive”. There is no single solution – designers need to work closely with their clients to understand the business, its values and culture; what will work for them; and, importantly, inspire the workforce.
Sponsored by Johnson Tiles, the ‘round table’ debate was one of a series of events hosted by Women in Office Design. Founded in May 2018 by Harsha Kotak, an interior designer with a vision to inspire and empower women working in all areas of the office design industry, WOD is a growing network of 2,000 plus global members. A networking and learning platform for like-minded women in the workplace design industry; WOD has chapters in London, Birmingham, Spain and India, with plans to expand to other major cities nationally and internationally.
People can join WOD Digital to register for all events by going to the WOD website.
Click to see more articles about Women in Workplace Design.
Find out more about Design Insider’s Media Partnership with The Virtual Interiors Event 2021.