In the past 2 years, many of us had to return to our homes and remain in isolation due to Covid. This is a drastic change from pre-pandemic times when we spent at least half of our time away from our homes (shelter) at work, in restaurants, at the theater, or in church. Now as we move away from restrictions, we are facing the question of whether we should continue working from home or go back to the office. This decision could impact architecture and how we use our space.
Beyond basic shelter, architecture has always been a place to gather. This gathering process creates community and gives people a purpose and humanity needs this for a healthy society. Before COVID working from home was in the minority but COVID made it a necessity for many businesses. These past two years the typical office worker has had to temporarily shift their homes to meet not only their daily living needs but also their work and recreation needs as well. Making this shift permanent would mean more people need dedicated spaces to address these new needs if they are not already in their homes. No one wants to work from the dining room table forever.
While there is a lot of talk about the reluctance to return to the office, not as much has been said about the benefits of gathering together as a community. Humans are inherently social creatures and are not meant to live in isolation. This is why solitary confinement is one of the worst punishments in our prison system. Over the past two years, I have spoken with people who are anxious to get back to the office because they miss being around other people. Many of us have found our social skills and the ability to have a casual conversation rusty from lack of use. But these quick chats about a co-worker's family or weekend serve to connect us.
As this debate continues, the effect on architecture is unknown. Some industries, like entertainment, religion, and hospitality will likely return to their pre-Covid conditions. Other white-collar offices could be changed forever. Personally, I think that while some people may never come back to the office, the majority will, simply because humans need interaction. No matter how this plays out, architecture will respond so we continue to create places for people to gather.