Will the Construction & Built Environment Ever Return to the Way it Was Before COVID-19?
In January 2020, it was announced that I would be leaving my role as vice president of enterprise sales for a leading smart technology firm. To ensure continuity and a smooth transition, an April date was set to begin my health-focused sabbatical. Yes — an all-inclusive destination resort with a perfect mix of outdoor activities and spa treatments.
If you know me, you would expect nothing short of a well documented strategy, with multiple paths to allow for the unknown. The plan included multiple aspirational and worst case financial scenarios.
Nowhere in my plan was a line item for a global pandemic.
In 2011 the United States Department of Defense released CONPLAN 8888–11, otherwise known as the Counter Zombie Dominance Plan. This fictitious plan was created by junior military officers undergoing training related to the Department of Defense’s Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES), the formalized process by which the Department conducts all contingency planning and execution.
The first line of the plan states “ this plan was not actually designed as a joke”.
While there is little risk of a post-pandemic zombie apocalypse, the criteria and methodology used to develop Counter Zombie Dominance Plan was pure brilliance.
CONPLAN 8888–11 wasn’t actually intended to combat real zombies. Rather, counteract something so unexpected that it could devise a strategy to combat any unknown situation or attack without personal bias or conventional thinking.
Leaving no stone unturned, CONPLAN 8888–11 also includes the possible legal ramifications of attacking zombies. As it turns out, laws prohibiting military violence, both domestically and internationally, are only geared towards human and animal life. So in the case of an invading horde of unknown pathogenic beings, zombies seem to be fair game.
The Pentagon isn’t the only governmental department to use zombies as a learning tool. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has also played off the popularity of The Walking Dead and other zombie-related cultural phenomena, releasing a zombie preparedness plan to better inform the public of what to do if — or when — a disaster strikes.
If we’re honest, we still don’t know everything about coronavirus.
Design and Construction professionals, especially commercial and residential technologists, are shifting value propositions to align with real estate requirements for spaces where we live, work and play.
So many questions…
- Will remote work become more commonplace now that we have started growing accustomed to it?
- Will design and architectural firms like Gensler rethink square feet per occupant allocation?
- How will hotels and resorts leverage smart technology, like the Control4 Hospitality Suite) to reduce the spread of germs in guest suites, and better protect staff members?
- Should property management firms, like Greystar, design common spaces with social distancing in mind?
- Will multi-site commercial building owners & operators re-prioritize heating & cooling (HVAC) initiatives with affordable building automation systems, like 75F, to increase operational efficiency & improve the occupant experience.
While recovery may still be a long way off, it is not too early to begin seeing disruption in the building industry. Both employees and employers will be accustomed to new business processes, new lifestyles, and habits.
This is a good time to focus on what happens when we eventually return to the office, and start thinking about the workplace in the ‘near now’ and then re-imagine it for the long-term. Many experts are now expecting the industry to rebound in the second half of 2020, though with social distancing measures being extended, timing is the wild card.
Whats clear to me is, by the time this ends, I may actually have mastered Zoom video conferencing and no longer needing a sabbatical.
What’s your Counter COVID-19 Dominance Plan?