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Life under Lockdown: Tom Owens, principal & MD, Gensler Australia

Tom Owens, principal & MD, Gensler Australia discusses the challenges of working during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Life under Lockdown: Tom Owens, principal & MD, Gensler Australia

“Our business is already set up for global connection, communication and collaboration. So, our shift to a complete remote working situation was seamless’” says Gensler MD Tom Owens.

“As of last week, the firm had 6,000 designers working from home with uninterrupted operations in real-time design, modelling, and collaboration with our clients and key consultants. Our strategic visioning and reviews sessions, team meetings, and construction administration are being held virtually and we are continuing to find new and innovative ways of delivering design.” 

As to the new work paradigm, Owens says, “Some clients are unphased by the situation, others are choosing to use this time to accelerate their projects, while others are adversely impacted. As always, we are focused on what’s needed right now while simultaneously planning for the immediate and far future.”

“Gensler’s culture is one of resilience, which recognizes that design must constantly evolve, adapting to and preparing for a changing world. We are working with many clients on immediate needs such as blocking and seating scenarios for essential staff, how seating may shift when we return to the office environment, and how we plan for new design solutions in highly public areas,” he says.

“The obvious learnings right now,” says Owens, “ are that businesses are indeed capable of adapting quickly when they need to, including ours. While our most recent workplace research shows that most people still prefer to be in the office, we are also seeing that some companies who were maybe once resistant to agile or remote working, are seeing that as a benefit in new ways.”

“We also are planning for clients to need more square footage. This will directly impact choices in real estate and geographical locations for building and workplace designs going forward. 

“This further emphasises the need to have a well-designed workplace for people to congregate, exchange ideas and have more human interactions with each other,” he says.

“On a personal level,” he says, “I am enjoying the reduced commute time and our collaboration across offices has only gotten stronger in this environment, which is something we hope to carry with us post-pandemic.”

“I’ve also realised how much I crave the in-person connection you can only really get outside of the house.”



Article originally appeared in Architecture and Design

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