Looking Forward to a New Normal: Exploring Emerging Trends in a Post-COVID 19 World

By Darwin Masacupan 

With no cure yet in sight, it is clear we have to adjust to a new normal with COVID-19. With the virus affecting all aspects of life, society as a whole must be creative in finding new solutions to existing needs.

It is precisely during these times of crisis interior design as a discipline must step up.  Creativity must be placed in the service of crafting better ways of social interactions in the spaces we inhabit. With this in mind, Enderun Colleges organised the webinar “Interior Design: Trends to Watch Out For Amidst Covid-19” on June 24, 2020.  

Approximately 100 attendees tuned in to the webinar to listen to the insightful discussion provided by a panellist of experts. This included Paperspace Program Director IDr. Karen Ann Calalec, Dr Joy Gladys J. Ejercito, IDr. Kathlyn Maala-Villapando and IDr. Leslie Ledesma.

Adapting new practices

Calalec noted the traditional definition of workspaces needs to be redefined, especially with COVID-19 making it impossible for us to work the way we used to. 

“The business landscape is changing,” she said. 

Citing the need for adaptability, Calalec suggested a shift to agile workspaces. While agile work is not a new concept, it has been brought in focus especially when discussing flexible work arrangements. At its core is the ability to drive results and stay productive, even while work moves beyond the office building or the factory.  

For her part, Ejercito, corporate secretary of the Philippine Institute of Interior Designs (PIID), emphasises the need to create separate spaces for different purposes given that the lines between our work-life boundaries are blurring. She also provided suggestions on how to incorporate good sanitary practices for the home.

Go, the senior managing partner of GSN+p Architecture Studio, believes al fresco and other open areas will be the design trend moving forward. “Fresh air needs to be introduced to the system,” he said. Repurposing existing designs will also be more commonplace, especially as people start to think about the spaces they move in.

Touchless technology and remote work

The topic of zero-touch technology was also brought up by multiple speakers. They emphasized that more people will be inclined to use voice-activated technology, and that buildings in any case are starting a shift to contactless interactions.

Such a technological shift also brings with it a paradigm shift towards remote work. Traditional workplaces used to gather employees together in one physical space for easier monitoring and management, but companies are now finding wisdom in alternative arrangements.

The growing popularity of remote, decentralised work poses a lot of questions management needs to take into consideration. Calalec emphasised real leaders must give and foster trust for staff members to deliver better business results, even in such unorthodox setups.

Considerations and frameworks towards the new normal

It is imperative to think about different factors when making the shift to agility.

Calalec suggests employees ask themselves the following questions: “Do we have the company’s full belief that we will do our jobs well? Are we enabled to take risks as well as be supported with innovation?” 

Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution, companies must be willing to take a step back and analyse their current position before making any permanent moves.

Management should also set proper expectations when work is decentralised. Employees should be trusted, equipped, and empowered in order to perform. Stress management in light of the pandemic must also be a priority moving forward. 

New horizons and frontiers

In the end, there remains much to look forward to despite the setbacks. COVID-19 is not the first crisis to shake the whole world, and it definitely won’t be the last. 

As we look forward towards a better and safer future, it is important to explore all possible solutions and be open to collaboration. As the world slowly tries to cope and move towards a new normal, interior design can help usher in a new age of design and workplace innovations.If you are an interior designer, you have the responsibility to be at the forefront of change for the better. We at Paperspace invite you to check out our website (www.paperspace.asia) as well as our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/paperspaceasia) for updates on upcoming seminars. Together, let’s learn from each other and build up our community of practise.

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