Gaining Back Choice, Well-Being + Mobility

17 March 2021

As I reflect on the past year, I think back to what I was doing a year ago today. I had just finished my certification in the CoreNet Leadership 2.0 Program where I received valuable skills on leadership style and became more comfortable with public speaking through a group presentation. I attended a celebration dinner with 50 of my industry colleagues. I jumped on an airplane to visit our Atlanta office team for some business development with a large enterprise organization. Only 24 hours after that trip, I realized something was not right in the world. One week later, as an abundance of caution, Dyer Brown decided to close our newly renovated office for a week to see how this COVID-19 thing would shake out. And one year later, I am still reflecting on our new normal from my dining room table.

I am a working mom of two teenagers. Although I am thankful they are self-sufficient when it comes to their schooling needs, I see them struggling through the social and emotional impacts of this pandemic: the lack of seeing friends, not being able to leave the house, the feeling that “choice” has been stripped away during a time they are supposed to be pushing the boundaries and learning from those decisions. Wholeheartedly, I too am feeling these same impacts. Like most working parents in our industry, I am experiencing the blurred lines and boundaries of work and home, putting in long, synchronous and asynchronous hours, all the while, worrying about the health and well-being of our workforce.

  • What I miss: Just as my teenagers long for connection to their friends and sitting in the classroom or the cafeteria laughing together, I too long to collaborate and connect with my coworkers, clients, and industry partners on a more regular basis.
  • What I love: Seeing my family every day, seeing what new skills my kids have developed, and developing my own new skills (getting over my fear of public speaking).
  • What I have learned: As I think about re-entering the physical office, I am grateful that our renovated office drew inspiration from residential design, with various “home-like” collaboration settings to complete my activity-based work. We also recently transitioned workstations from assigned to unassigned seating to create less density for individual heads-down work. The flexibility and variety of both individual and collaborative areas make us well-positioned for re-entry.
  • What I predict: The flexible, distributed workforce is here to stay. There is an opportunity for companies to provide a strategic, curated employee work experience that caters to their needs and well-being.

So... when will we find the work/life balance again? What will make us feel comfortable moving freely from place to place? How will we get choice back?

The future of choice, well-being, and mobility will return. We have learned so much about human behavior while working remote, and we have learned that there is a way to create an integrated user experience through digital tools and technologies to feel safe, secure, and connected. Human behavior is about anticipation and adaptation.

As I look to the future of being back in our beautiful office more frequently – over the next three months, six months, one year from now – I know that I will be safe by choosing where I want to sit to complete my various tasks because we were forward-thinking to create a variety of work settings for people to come back to. I look forward to signing out the four-person conference room for a private new client pitch, and the large open office collaboration area to innovate with my colleagues on our next big project, and to reserving a speakeasy-inspired room for a midday recharge.

This is not over yet, but we will persevere, and our industry will be stronger than it was before. And as working parents, we will demonstrate to our children that our resiliency is becoming stronger and we are more compassionate human beings. Here’s to the day I can invite you all to sit around our centralize hub space “Emerald” for an afternoon cocktail. Meet you all there. Cheers.

Post authored by

Sara Ross LEED AP
Associate Principal | Director of Corporate Services
Dyer Brown Architects

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