Planning for Post-COVID Space Use: Responsive Data Dashboards Flex with Evolving COVID Conditions

How will our spaces of work, life, and learning adjust to meet new realities and respond to rapidly evolving needs? Across sectors, organizations must be able to scenario plan for all kinds of eventualities—and they have to be able to do this on the fly.

Planning for future space needs is a complex undertaking made easier by dashboard tools that enable decision-makers and design teams to adjust variables as needed.

Sasaki’s in-house software development and data visualization team, Sasaki Strategies, has developed custom dashboards for planning and architecture clients for more than a decade, but the demand for an accurate, timely, and intuitive understanding of what spaces we have—and what we may need—has never been more acute. 

“It’s all about enabling decision-making by quickly understanding the impacts of changing inputs,” says Tyler Patrick, chair of Planning and Urban Design. “Through integration of technology into key points of a planning or design process, we can work with our client partners to explore scenarios and evaluate trade-offs in real time.”

Each component of the dashboard is built with a sliding scale so that Sasaki can show the client, in real time, how changes made to an individual variable—such as the pace of growth or the size of a workstation—drives programmatic demand.

Consumer Products Company Plans for New Workplace Needs

Sasaki was approached by a Boston-based consumer products company to help them analyze their space needs. Since the start of the pandemic, company employees have been working remotely and wanted to understand their options once it is safe to return to the office, recognizing this unique opportunity to rethink where and how their employees work.

If they want to continue working as they did pre-pandemic, how much additional real estate would they need to lease to accommodate growth? If they want to remain in their current space, in what ways would they need to change their current work model? 

Salud Digna’s corporate campus will include a combination of office, lab, university, and community amenity space at full build-out and the data dashboard tool helps to identify how to accommodate evolving programmatic needs.

To answer these questions, Sasaki conducted a series of interviews to understand what variables were at play. The firm then developed a web-based dashboard that allowed the client to test alternative solutions by adjusting any number of inputs. The user can alter global assumptions, such as headcount growth projections, as well as test more granular decisions on workstation styles, work-from-home policies and new program needs by individual departments. 

Health-care Non-profit Scenario: Plans for Post-COVID Campus

As part of the process of developing a master plan project for Salud Digna’s new campus headquarters, the team created a custom dashboard illustrating how growth and new services could influence the physical development of the corporate campus. After wrapping up the project last spring, the team is now revisiting several planning assumptions given the remote work impacts of COVID-19. As part of this effort, the team will re-engage the dashboard tool and assume a reduced on-campus staff presence and university building footprint, as well as a greater amount of dedicated open space on campus.

Salud Digna’s new campus will allow the organization to grow and advance its mission of expanding affordable health-care access while also serving as an anchor to the neighborhood.

“The power of this kind of dashboard development is that it’s not a boxed-up solution tweaked for each client—the Strategies team builds them with our clients and the design and planning experts for the specific needs of the project at hand,” says Architect Victor Vizgaitis, who works on commercial real estate and campus architecture projects in Boston and around the world. 

As we head into an uncertain year ahead and, as assumptions change, the role of technology in providing valuable data insights in real time will be critical for helping clients navigate decisions around downsizing, reconfiguring space or expanding footprints. Gaining valuable data insight in real time through technologies, such as Sasaki Strategies’ custom responsive space-use dashboards, will be beneficial.

Providing this dashboard to Salud Digna arms the client with the tools it needs to utilize data to be responsive to new inputs for decades to come.

About the Author

Ken Goulding & Tristan Rock
Ken Goulding is a principal planner for Sasaki Strategies and Tristan Rock is a senior associate and director of business development for Sasaki.

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