21 Lessons Learned During the Pandemic in 2021
It was a year that forced us to reconsider assumptions and expectations for our lives, the way we conducted business, and the way we communicated with each other.
I think we all can safely say that 2021 was most interesting indeed. It was a year that forced us to reconsider assumptions and expectations for our lives, the way we conducted business, and the way we communicated with each other. We continued to blaze fresh trails in our lives and find work that felt right and sustainable amid the ongoing pandemic. We redefined the way relationships look with family, friends. We modernized our views on work separation and decentralization; we embraced different ways to do our jobs, we updated the ways in which we made and distributed our products, and yes, we incorporated innovative ways to manage and operate our buildings. And, without any doubt, we succeeded!
COVID has introduced us to new challenges and priorities and caused us to reconsider and re-examine operational and workplace strategies at our facilities. Achieving operations that balance economic, social, and environmental goals is one of the major outcomes the building industry is facing resulting from the pandemic.
We all have learned new lessons. Here are twenty-one related to the built environment that I have learned and experienced in dealing with the pandemic for the past nineteen months:
- There is a convergence of traditional building operations and workplace management
- Systems and equipment that run buildings must do more
- The conversation has shifted to health, safety, occupant wellbeing
- The hybrid workplace is here to stay; not only as it applies to work at the office/work from home but also as it relates to the edge and in the cloud
- Previous energy and sustainability references have been combined into ESG which is being driven by shareholder expectations, customer requirements to buy from companies who are being sustainable and caring for our environment and employees. It is now part of a company’s brand
- The new office amenities are air quality, occupancy control and space flexibility
- We have returned to siloed systems
- Data has yet another reason why it is so important and continues to reign as the “King” of the built environment
- The importance of remote monitoring
- Establishing and maintaining building/facility trust has become mandatory
- There is no more “one size fits all;” flexibility to operate and manage buildings based on daily changing occupancy levels is the new norm
- The way a building is “COVID operated and managed” is also part of a company’s brand
- There is a focus on people as much as technology
- Achieving operations that balance economic, social, environmental and outcomes is now required for owners and operators
- How a building addresses COVID has a positive or negative impact on asset value
- Brought increased attention to workplace health, safety, and space issues
- There is much more to dealing with COVID in buildings than “just cleaning”
- The use of building operating technology has moved up the chain
- Made us all get better at accepting and acting upon change
- Importance of real-time visibility and systematic responses
- The “smarter” building has become more important than ever
The fallout and adjustment to life with COVID-19 continues to fuel the need for buildings that are smarter, flexible, and resilient. COVID has caused us all (whether you are a technology/solutions provider, a building owner/operator, an integrator/building services or an occupant) to permanently rethink how buildings and facilities need to operate and will continue to have to do so. Now more than ever, smarter building technologies that support connectivity, interoperability, a healthy work environment, operational cost efficiency, sustainability, and meaningful operational and workplace experiences are required. The future of where we work, how we work and the implications for the built environment remain complex, but there are proven solutions which are addressing these challenges available right now. And although there is a myriad of owners and operators with vastly different needs, we know that smarter buildings outperform ones that are not, no matter the type of facility.
Following sudden and profound disruption, a new landscape has emerged. In the post-COVID-19 era, the “smarter building” is more important than ever. We’ve moved to the “great building reshuffle."