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Design in the Era of COVID-19

by Thomas McElroy, CEO of Level-1 Global Solutions

Strategy Magazine coverThe past few weeks have been a strain, not only on ourselves and businesses, but also our internet networks. What we took for granted just a few weeks ago is now our lifeline to stay connected, not only to friends and family, but also to our jobs and livelihood.

While working from home started to become commonplace, until recently it was not a requirement to keep many businesses operating. This sudden focus on remote access to business technology infrastructure is profound, and will likely continue, which will force us to re-examine how we design multi-unit housing.

Before this health crisis, apartment and condominium design focused on allowing residents to enjoy television and the internet in the evenings and on the weekends. Now, residents are accessing those services at all times, not just for personal entertainment, but for their work. As such, being online with a stable, flexible, and reliable connection is crucial.

When an architect or interior designer creates the design for a residential development, it is now important for them to consult with a technology infrastructure specialist to ensure the design allows the required connectivity. Similarly, many developers will need that same advice to retrofit existing residential properties that are suddenly occupied with busy workers glued to their computers and devices throughout the entire day as now their home is their office.

Multifamily residential technology infrastructure now needs to have almost the same standards as an office setting, complete with back-ups and redundancies. It also needs to be flexible and have the bandwidth, protections, and redundancies so that the experience at home is the same at work.

The current COVID-19 health crisis also reminds us of the critical need to plan for catastrophic events that can shut down a central business district, a city or even an entire state. Building owners do not want to wait until it is too late to find out that their building's technology infrastructure will not accommodate the demand required to function in catastrophic situation as we are now experiencing.

Good, seamless technology infrastructure design is not always appreciated, but bad infrastructure design is always obvious - and these days it is economically unacceptable.