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Column Adriaan Mout | Silence at the office

27 November 2019

Cobouw adriaan mout 200409 stil op bureau

It is quiet at our office; three quarters of our team work at home. We were technically prepared. Many people already had a home working day and because we also work internationally, distance is not strange to us. And it is not really quiet, because the colleagues who are here have almost continuously video calls. There is much to be gained in external communication. With all the alternatives to physical meetings, we need to meet less and focus more on the content. Inadvertently, we can also work on environmental objectives.

Our internal communication has now also been neatly structured with all kinds of groups in MS Teams. It seems quite productive, strangely enough a different kind of bandages also develop, and a strong sense of togetherness grows. It works, but just sparring with each other, the real design sessions, the pat on the back, the joint lunch, the conversation at the coffee machine, the drink in the adjacent café, all that cannot be done digitally.

The short-term worries may currently overshadow the reflection on what this will mean for the long term. Until recently, nitrogen and PFAS dominated our concerns and the agenda was full of great ambitions to solve the housing shortage and really achieve the climate objectives. Are these ambitions and objectives the victim of this unpredictable crisis? And what is the impact on the content of our profession in which we are pre-eminently engaged in creating a physical environment that should invite to connect and meet? Things that are currently forbidden, but what are the consequences of the one-and-a-half-meter society for our designs?

And should we really long for ‘business as usual’, or should we seize this crisis for a real reset, an opportunity for lasting change?

All musings that keep us and many colleagues busy at our quiet offices, where work continues for the time being and we have just had the daily team meeting from many living rooms.

April 2020,