Technology and intelligent spaces have not only been shaping but also have been constantly transforming the workplace environment. How is DSP reining in its control in this domain?
Bimal Desai: Technological considerations within workspaces and PropTech as a specialised domain were a quest we dedicatedly endeavored more than two years ago. DSP has been well ahead of the curve in developing an integrated design/technology service offering over the past 18 months in collaboration with our partners IB (Intelligent Buildings) based in the United States and are industry revered leaders in smart building solutions since the past decade and a half.
At DSP, we envision technology to be the connecting thread that entwines around the entire built environment thereby rooting through our approach in integrating technology and designs from the visualization stage of the projects holistically across all typologies and schemes, from master planning, architecture to interior design. Our global teams with ground presence across India too, are uniquely poised to provide any client partners a cradle to grave end-to-end advisory/strategy/design service and support. These teams are technically equipped to extend these services within the SEA & Austral regions, as well in addition to India.
This practice, with globally experienced teams, having worked upon large multi-dimensional varied typologies of projects, has uniquely empowered us with the ability to think and incept the solutions for creating workplace environments which are efficient on energy, provide the best in class user experiences, address wellbeing and yet be operationally safe.
How much does technology play a factor in your creative development of a workplace environment?
Bimal Desai: Addressing the design strategy approach for today and the future can no longer be restricted only to a perspective of creating functional, aesthetically pleasing buildings and interior spaces with the available solutions for today with regards to the MEP infrastructure and other services.
Our approach at DSP Design has migrated towards a world of data-driven design strategies and implementation, where the efficiency & productivity of any office design are paramount drivers with solutions designed using technology-enabled systems.
The design solutions are programmed to cater to meet organisational goals, experiences intended to be provided by organizations to the staffers and partners, and their envisioned goals towards productivity & efficiency. DSP dissects into the core performance parameters expected from the design functionality of a project by a rigorous ice-breaking session at its nascent stages that address such questions. Our approach & technology tools allow us to measure how efficiently the existing real estate portfolio is being utilized, is there a need for more collaborative spaces, the configuration and number of meeting rooms in a particular workspace set up, the preferred assortment of assigned/unassigned work desks and much more. Apart from this, the other aspect of Smart building technology solutions helps in monitoring and real-time maintenance, fault detection & diagnostics leading to predictive maintenance, providing cybersecurity solutions related to real estate providing a safe work environment to the end-users.
We have in the current environment been able to quickly focus this approach to public health challenges and offer defined cost-efficient processes and solutions for both new designs & existing space retrofit solutions to equip companies to address workspace requirements arising out of the pandemic.
Given DSP has been at the forefront of office design; what are some key changes that the firm is adopting in their design approach and parameters for office design?
Bimal Desai: Had we been addressing a similar interview in the month of February or even towards the end of it, the answer would have had a much clearer direction to the strategic approach to design. I have never in my professional tenure witnessed a period of just 60 days, trying to challenge & impact the workplace design principals that evolved over the past few years.
The evolution has been centered around design strategies that addressed the needs of humans as “social animals”, the needs of working collaboratively and creating workspaces which are agile and host employees in an open architecture set up with principles of “choice seating" settings defined for activities based working, free address system platform embedded into it and more
The current situation with COVID-19 is generating many global debates, thought processes, analysis to evaluate and overhaul policies like the working from home, seeing the results of the largest global WFP experiment in our history, and quite a few queries also being generated out of the fear of dealing with the unknown and the unpredictability of the circumstances around.
However, our needs as humans to engage, collaborate, socialise, learn, and mentor do not change by a global crisis like this on a forever basis. Humans by nature are either an extrovert or introvert and therefore the need for the workspace to address provisions of a comfortable office setting for both groups of people doesn’t change. The need for workspaces to provide an emotionally stable work environment stays put.
©-Andre J Fanthome
Organisations that are analysing the possibilities of WFH concepts are doing so based on the type of work which people do and identifying staffers that can actually keep working from home, while also analysing the needs of people who would opt-in for remote working for reasons like ensuring a work-life balance and physically attend office only for urgent needs.
This phenomenon will also see some changes in density patterns in terms of square feet allocations for individual employees. These revisions are expected to be on the plus side versus what the per square feet space allotted currently. As some percentage of individuals would transition to a WFH model, there will be a release of certain square feet of real estate and this release will perhaps balance out the needs arising out of requirements like social distancing as it appears.
Technology integrated design solutions are going to be the key as this whole process of digital transformation gains momentum. Though these are very early days to predict any permanent long term changes in design strategies, it’s an interesting time for all, the design community as well as the end-user groups. A step by step approach is what will help assimilate our thoughts and plans on achieving the design ambitions with certainty. Steering our way through the situation, we’re optimistically positioned as DSP Design to offer design solutions that holistically address the post-pandemic workspace design requirements, ensuring wellbeing, public health aspects and providing highly efficient and productive work environments for people working out of built environments.