It started with a letter. A love letter, of sorts, to an empty office that we already knew would never quite be the same.

Janet Lougée, heading up our Corporate Futures Team, penned A Letter to Everyone Who’s Missing an Office They Love, a first step toward an exploration into what COVID-19 would mean for the places, spaces, and people that comprise our work and our communities.

Socially distanced - and with safety top of mind - we brought together what came to be called our Futures Teams, groups of employees that are charged with contemplating some of the Big Questions wrought by the pandemic:

  • What does it look and feel like to walk into the door of your office after months working from home?
  • If it is conceivable to accept that the “experience of school” may never be the same, how might school facilities and campuses adapt?
  • How are civic spaces being reinvisioned to protect the safety of employees and the public they serve?
  • Can we still go outside and play?

We present here the beginnings of our exploration of the future. Not a "post-COVID" world, but a world in which - even once this pandemic passes - we must be prepared to pivot faster than ever as we design and engineer and reconfigure and reimagine the built environment in ways that will withstand the challenges that are sure to lie ahead. We invite you to explore along with us.

The emergence of COVID-19 has already changed the world in so many ways — we have rapidly adapted to new ways of learning and teaching.

The PK-12 Education Futures Team grappled with the challenge to leverage what we learn from this experience and shape it into solutions that provide a positive, impactful experience for teachers and students now and in the years to come. Read their report: Education, Learning, and Facilities in a COVID-19 World.

Everyone has a right to safely engage in essential public services, including those accessing the justice system.

The Civic-Government Futures Team took a deep dive with Will County on their changes needs under COVID-19, including a back-to-office planning presentation for the Will County Government League, and an in-depth interview with the Honorable Richard C. Schoenstedt, Chief Judge of the Will County Courthouse. In it, he discusses the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court's commitment to carrying out its essential functions while taking the necessary steps to protect the safety of employees and the public.

Include considerations for determining building circulation, rooms capacities, and layouts for indoor sports, fitness, day camps, and other programs typically offered by Recreation Centers.

The Parks and Recreation Futures Team took a serious look at having fun with "Recreation Reopening | Make Time to Play." In it, they offer an expert interpretation of guidelines set by the State of Illinois with a series of practical diagrams and critical questions that can be used as a tool by Parks and Recreation staff to help plan and implement their programs during both Phase 3 and Phase 4 of the COVID-19 pandemic re-entry plan.

Keep an eye on this page as our Futures Teams continue to create meaningful content for an uncertain time.