The idea of designing office buildings for serendipity has been embraced for decades, especially in established and emerging technology hubs. Architects create designs that encourage employees to move through the space, with the hope of catalyzing impromptu interaction and serendipitous encounters.
The goal is to break down the silos and echo chambers of the old-line office environs in favor of a more vibrant and collaborative workspace. These workspaces are characterized by architectural elements such as expansive atriums, informal gathering spaces, reconfigurable walls, community cafes, and outdoor working patios.
Now, however, many of these gleaming engines of workaday serendipity sit empty. Hollow husks awaiting the return of their former occupants, most of whom were pressed into remote work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The reality, though, is that many of these people will not return. At least not full time, or in full force. Remote work is here to stay.