Alternative Work Styles

Virtual Inspections and Observations, When Site Visits are not Feasible

Requires Good Communication and Reliable Technology

Published 4-29-2020

All of the protocols general contractors are putting in place to keep their workers safe during the ongoing pandemic—rearranging shifts, monitoring temperatures, separating crews on site—will not move a project to completion without the dozens of inspections, site visits, and construction observation events that take place during the course of construction. But with many owners, architects, and inspectors unable to visit job sites due to stay-at-home mandates, construction progress can stall. One solution is the virtual site visit, opening the door to remote construction observations.

Construction Environment Roundtable

Current State of the Economy, Construction Market, Procurement, Liability

Published 4-8-2020

To keep apprised of the dynamics in the current construction environment, Vermeulens, a professional services firm focused on construction cost estimation and pre-construction cost control, has scheduled twice-weekly virtual roundtable discussions with industry leaders in Central and East Coast regions to identify ongoing trends, influencing factors, construction administration issues, and the market outlook in the construction industry. Economic indicators are in flux, and while employment in construction seemed to have avoided the drop seen in other sectors through mid-March, a survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) shows that conditions are worsening, with 55 percent of the 1,600 repondents nationwide reporting they had been directed to hault work on at least one project, and 27 percent have furloughed or terminated construction workers. The next federal jobs report, which will be issued at the end of April, will provide a truer picture, says James Vermeulen, managing principal of Vermeulens.

Selecting Furniture to Optimize Functionality and Efficiency of Evolving Workplaces

Desks, Tables, and Seating Options Impact Organizations and their Employees

Published 3-18-2020

As workplace environments continually change to accommodate the diversity of today’s employee workstyles, choosing the most appropriate furniture is an increasingly important aspect of the design process. While furniture selection may have been an afterthought in the past—a decision to be considered only after a building was constructed or renovated—many organizations now realize the value of putting furniture selection on the front burner. Furniture can impact workplace change initiatives by empowering employees, improving employee satisfaction and productivity, enhancing collaboration, and improving overall organizational efficiencies. The selection and placement of furniture—from standing desks, height-adjustable tables, room dividers, storage space, and myriad seating options—are now being aligned with an organization’s objectives.

LAB2050: Imagining the Lab of the Half Century

Researchers Envision Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Advanced Technology, Unexpected Partnerships

Published 7-10-2019

Imagine a baby born today. She’s smart and science-minded. Through good luck and hard work, she earns her doctorate early, and by age 31, she is solidly embarked on a research career. What does her lab look like? That’s what two SmithGroup thought leaders—Adam Denmark, director of Laboratory Planning, and Steve Palumbo, Science and Technology Studio leader—sought to find out with their team members though a yearlong research initiative they called LAB2050. Collectively, the SmithGroup team and their client advisors defined six categories that they used to project current trends forward—technology, funding and partnerships, energy and the environment, collaboration, synergies, and planning and design—and to visualize the new ones that might emerge.

Facility Design as an Enterprise-Level Solution

Understanding the Link Between Culture and Organizational Strategies

Published 6-12-2019

Asking a company to define its culture often results in an ambiguous response, but answering that question is key to addressing business concerns with the most effective workplace and organizational design solutions. Organizational strategies reflect the structure of the business, can identify workflow and system inadequacies, and should support workplace design. Assessing a company’s business objectives, functional needs, space utilization, necessary workplace improvements, user requirements, and operating capabilities can be instrumental in making the best design decisions. This approach is built on a foundation of viewing design as an enterprise-level service capable of solving business problems, and not just real estate issues.

Academic Workplace Evolution: How Universities Are Rethinking Spaces for Faculty and Staff

Workplace Innovation is Not a “Space Problem”

Published 5-15-2019

Colleges and universities are rethinking their workplaces to align their space with how people work today and to use space to achieve their strategic goals. Beyond macro forces reshaping higher education in terms of access, accountability, and financial stability, there is a confluence of financial, environmental, technological, and cultural factors prompting this change, including increasing numbers of administrative staff and a growing disengagement among faculty and staff. But the most common mistake that institutions make when trying to change their workplace is assuming that they are trying to solve a space problem. Even if the impetus for a project is a space problem—you’re out of space and have no place to put the new faculty or staff member you just hired!—you won’t solve it by thinking about it that way. It’s more complex and nuanced than that. What you need first is a workplace strategy, a coherent statement that describes how your space will be used to help you achieve your larger strategic goals.