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We're First at Being Last!

by Mike Skaar

Once again, the City by the Bay is leading the nation in new workplace trends. We are last in returning to the office. The city which had one of the lowest Covid rates in the world, has the highest percentage of workers who are choosing to work from home; from Helsinki to the Hamptons, or anywhere else they feel most inspired.

This remarkable development directly impacts (and can benefit) architects and designers, but only if a work-life balance can be maintained.

Unfortunately, designers were recently rated among the highest for burnout in a study among various professions. The tools to deal with burnout are out there, and if you’re a member of the architecture or interior design profession, there’s a podcast called “Designing Against Burnout” from Thinklab you might find very informative.

It’s an AIA and IDCEC accredited CEU so the information will not only provide vital tools for thriving in a changing world, you’ll stay current on Continuing Education! Jennifer Moss and Rahaf Harfoush cover many of the recent transformational developments in A&D work.

The evidence is everywhere of the great reset in where we work, and of San Francisco’s unique status among densely populated urban centers.

Recent news articles document the doubling of projections of permanent remote work which will impact downtown businesses, reduce tax revenues, and challenge commercial property valuations.

Pinterest announced in 2020 that it was terminating a lease for nearly 500,000 square feet, walking away from an $89 million dollar deposit, and apparently they haven’t looked back since. In April of 2022, Pinterest announced “PinFlex” giving near complete discretion and autonomy to employees, but mandating that they will be expected to visit a Pinterest office at least once per year.

The long term impact of these trends may require some foundational tweaks to the structure and technology used for collaboration; an early Microsoft study indicated there are potential downsides to be monitored and addressed.

Think Tanks from Stanford to Harvard, and businesses from San Francisco to New York are all documenting how the workplace is undergoing profound, rapid, and apparently permanent transformation. Exactly what that workplace will require to support employees will be the subject of future communications.

Since we at Knak Group are here to support the group of extraordinary creatives in architecture and interior design, as well as the GC's, PM's, and channel partners on our projects, we want you to know, we hear you. You’re not going back to the way work was. The future looks very different, and we are excited about the challenges of adopting to a new landscape.

We’ve been approached by design firms about spending a morning or a day at the San Francisco Design Center, where they can experience countless new solutions in many venues. We’ve been invited to offsite gatherings in parks and parking lots, and each event reconnects us with people we admire.

We’re now seeing firms bring people back in smaller numbers and we love to see you in your offices; some of you have received our back-to-workplace knak-snaks, and we hope to reach most of you in the near future.

It’s also exciting to connect with you in other venues, so let's brainstorm for spaces that inspire your creative best. Come visit us in the SFDC, a park, at NeoCon, at your office, or connect with us at the next industry event. The future will be fascinating. We can’t wait to see you!

About the Author

Mike Skaar continues to move Knak Group forward as an industry leader in supporting progressive workplace design, innovation, and strategies to facilitate collaboration. He has been privileged to work on projects around the globe with leading architects and designers from California to the Pacific Rim. His success comes from appreciating the balance of work and life. His passions include travel, snowboarding, community service, and he has attended Burning Man 21 times and counting. (and, as of 2022, ONE Coachella). Mike holds an MBA from Arizona State University and completed additional post-graduate work in international business at UCLA.

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