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Bloor-Annex BIA Parkettes - DTAH, Toronto, ON

Artifact: #workingfromhome

Text by Mark Hillmer, OALA

A global health pandemic has reshaped the way we work. Is it temporary, or are we learning lessons to carry forward?

In March 2020, we abandoned our offices en masse, trading them for kitchen counters and stools, coffee tables and couches, dining tables and desks in our homes. Some of us are sharing spaces with spouses, partners, roommates, children, or pets—life and work colliding in a new home circus.

As if in protest to our circumstances, we forged ahead, determined to adapt to our new surroundings, leaving our clients and colleagues none-the-wiser. Except, we are wiser.

Video conferencing has become the new norm for holding meetings, giving client presentations, collaborating, and keeping up with colleagues. A communication tool we have never relied on so heavily is now so fundamental for work, it can be difficult to remember a time when we used to meet face-to-face.

A bright set up. IMAGE/ Mark Hillmer

But video conferencing has also humanized business. Peering into the homes of our colleagues and clients, and inviting them into ours, like some strange pseudo-reboot of MTV Cribs, can lead us to understand one another on a deeper level. We see the challenges we are all overcoming daily and feel connected through a shared understanding of just how emotionally draining it can be. We make space for casualness, for interruptions, for life.

When we emerge from our homes, can we maintain that space? Will we be more patient and supportive of each other? How can we leverage a deeper understanding of one another and redesign our businesses to be more mutually beneficial?

The pandemic has challenged us to adapt and grow in ways that would have been difficult to predict a year ago. Post-pandemic, we will be presented with an opportunity to affect change. Can we rise to meet it?

Office, featuring aloe. IMAGE/ Leah Lanteigne

BIO/ Mark Hillmer, OALA, is a member of the Ground Editorial Board and a Landscape Architect working for a multi-disciplinary design firm in Toronto.