Dear Andrew,

How are the vacation plans coming? Is your suitcase packed? Just kidding! Wishful thinking, I know. Not only would that feel like we are back to normal, but it would mean we are back in the office. Do you think you will be going back to your office soon?

I miss my office. On the one hand, I don’t have to pay for dry cleaning or worry about a different outfit each day. Here at home I can drink the beverage of my choice, day and night. But on the other hand, I miss you and all my colleagues!

I can’t have the same watercooler chat at the coffee bar. I long for that quick update about the family, a brief chat in the stairwell about a great light fixture you saw, connecting in the common area to figure out how we get Bob on our project.

OK, enough with the reminiscing. What are you doing to plan about transitioning back? We are working hard internally to develop the next road map. So far, we’re focusing a flexible model that can be expanded and modified as new information comes forth which is a daily occurrence.

(This is where I wished we were back in the office next to the whiteboard with the sun shining in!)

First and foremost, we want it safe for everyone and will follow CDC guidelines and apply all the right hygienic things to do. In order to dig through the many pieces of this puzzle, we decided to do what we do best, frame and organize an approach. So here goes:

  • define what solutions are needed
  • determine how to evaluate them and
  • review what impact they have to our daily workplace
6 feet of distance

Social Distancing - 6’, 8’ or ?

Social Distancing - 6’, 8’ or ?


In breaking down the solutions, we focused on the transitional, physical, and operational aspects. Transitional speaks to the temporary plan of re-entry and our readiness to do so. Next, we look at the physical solutions, what size is optimal, what spacing is required, how we physically circulate through the space and support it with physical infrastructure improvements. Operational falls into its own bucket ranging from working at home strategies to cleaning and maintenance protocols.

We are being careful to not get too far down into the weeds but lest we forget, we could face another pandemic down the road. Therefore, the last bucket is strategic to assure that an emergency response team is developed for future considerations.

The next layer to dig into is that of evaluating the solutions in terms of space function, density, usage rate, exposure and readiness.

At the end of the day, it is not just about surfaces being cleanable, but rather what is the larger impact in how we evaluate and plan for new spaces. We must look at these proposed ideas and solutions with a bigger picture understanding that they are all interrelated.

Stay tuned for the deeper dive into the details.

FYI - we have put together a checklist to help you organize your teams around returning to work.

While many of the new measures we’ve adopted during our work from home time now come as second nature, translating these habits to the workplace will certainly have its challenges. Now, with another month of stay-at-home orders stretching ahead of us, we have time to work on this plan.

So yes – I miss the office and often wonder how different that space will feel once we return. But I like having a plan to take on the challenges. Let’s plan on comparing notes on measuring impact and evaluating success. Love to hear your feedback!

Hey!! I almost forgot! Look at what Steve and Nick were up to with our 3D printer - a handheld door opening tool. You will want one in each employee’s backpack.


It took about four hours on the 3D printer and was designed using an open-source pattern they found online. They practiced social distancing and wore their masks. Nothing can slow us down in the innovation category!


It took about four hours on the 3D printer and was designed using an open-source pattern they found online. They practiced social distancing and wore their masks. Nothing can slow us down in the innovation category!

Take care, Andrew. I’ll send you one of these door openers when we’ve perfected the pattern!


About the Author – Janet Lougée, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP

Janet is an award-winning architect and workplace strategist at Wight & Company with over 35 years of experience in the architecture field for corporate, commercial, educational, and retail clients. She drives client business results through effective executive oversight and expert knowledge in workspace strategies. She was the first woman president of AIA Illinois and is an active member of Corenet and IFMA.

Wight & Company, is an integrated solutions firm focused on architecture, engineering, construction and sustainability consulting. Offices are in Chicago and Darien, Illinois and Denver, CO.

Wight Corporate Future Team – Janet Lougée, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Matthew A. Duggan, AIA; Nick Jaworsky, RA, NCARB, LEED Green Associate; Stephen Dillon, Senior Project Designer