Spacious, Efficient, and Flexible: Shifting Design to Embrace Well-being

Pre-pandemic, workplace design trended towards open floor plans, shared work space, and low barriers to maintain transparency. Work areas were often trimmed to the bare minimum in an effort to eliminate wasted space, with exorbitant rents creating pressure to maximize every square foot.

To counterbalance these cramped conditions, large companies enticed talent with substantial perks and amenities. Gourmet food offerings, gaming rooms, bike and car washing facilities, and even on-site spa services and daycare centers became incentives to draw talent. The trade-off – crowded work space with frequent disruptions from nearby coworkers – now comes with a potential health risk, as COVID-19 has proven to spread rapidly among people in close proximity for extended periods of time.

Moving forward, the goal will no longer be to fit as many people into as small of a footprint as possible. Floor plans will be more spacious, with ample room to socially distance. Enclosed offices, outdoor open air collaboration zones, and enhanced indoor air quality systems will be smart investments to keep employees healthy. Modernizing conference rooms to provide larger space for social distancing and the latest in video conferencing technology for remote attendees means clients stay safe as well.

According to Dana Mattioli and Konrad Putzier of the Wall Street Journal, allowing remote work does not mean traditional office spaces will cease to exist. “Leases are hard to tear up, and few companies want to ditch the office altogether”, opting instead to restructure traditional work schedules, reposition office space, and relocate to suburban areas. In addition, Mattioli and Putzier claim “some executives say offering the option to work from home keeps employees happy and helps attract better job candidates”, making the change beneficial to both employees and employers.

Another benefit to our abrupt change in work style has been a recognition of how powerful employee collaboration is for efficiently moving projects forward – and how effectively this can be accomplished even with remote work. Meaningful interactions were once believed to be the result of in-person, face-to-face discussion; however, our employees have proven they can be effective and efficient from home. Technology has been embraced to keep collaboration and creativity constant, and quality work is being delivered. Customized laptops enhanced with sophisticated design capabilities are replacing bulky desktops to allow employees to easily transition from office to home, as well as to have increased flexibility with where they work in the future. Even as workplace restrictions ease, staggering employees to have some working from home and some in office will strategically reduce overall office density.

While COVID-19 is upending work space as we know it, it will likely impact other real estate sectors as well. Notably, multifamily housing design will embrace a live-work lifestyle with designated work space in-unit as well as common area business amenities such as Zoom rooms, enclosed workstations, and work bars to accommodate virtual meetings and remote work. Such efficient design and innovative amenities will be attractive to tenants looking for alternative work space options.

As we navigate a global pandemic, how we live and work may be permanently altered for the better. We now know that remote working, video meetings, and efficient, high-quality design can keep us healthy, happy, and safe.

Reassurance Regarding COVID-19

During this time of unease, we can be grateful to live in a world where technology allows us to work safely from home. Nearly half of our staff have opted to telecommute during this time, and we fully back their decision. Site visits are made only when deemed necessary and with the proper social distancing protocols in place. All other meetings are being held online via teleconferencing or video calls.

While everyday lives are being disrupted, our work continues as normal or as close to normal as possible. Our cleaning staff is now regularly disinfecting our office from top to bottom and our staff is helping daily by keeping all surfaces clean and disinfected, including door handles, office equipment, and shared kitchen space. We are taking the necessary precautionary steps to ensure our workplace stays safe.

Our employees and our clients are our top priority. We encourage you to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to remain healthy and safe. We will get through this together – and until then, we are always just a call or an email away.


Beverly MA Mariana Vaida, LEED AP has joined DMS design, llc as a senior project manager. Vaida brings a wealth of architectural and interior design expertise from over 35 years of experience with project management and construction administration, and is the recipient of numerous design awards. In addition, she is the founder of PV+M LLC, a real estate development and design firm specializing in the renovation of historical homes on Boston’s North Shore.

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2018 Multi-Housing News Excellence Awards

We were proud to be part of the DSF Group project team, which won a Silver award in the 2018 Multi-Housing News Excellence Awards Best Value-Add Renovation category for our Halstead Malden Square project. DMS provided architectural design services for the project, which renovated 10,000 SF of existing space in a luxury apartment building in Malden. The project branded and upgraded the space, adding a fitness center, club and lounge space, business center with private meeting pods, as well as exterior improvements to the courtyard, including an enhanced fire pit, life-sized games, luxury seating, and a bocce court. The judges found the project to be “thoughtful in colors, materials and design, instead of relying solely on construction.”

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DMS enjoyed working with this family-owned business to provide architectural services, including interior and exterior architectural design, construction documents, and construction administration, to create an addition with a handicap accessible entry vestibule, two new handicap accessible bathrooms, additional seating, and office space. It was a great project to see come to fruition for the family and the devoted patrons of Fireside Restaurant. We are thrilled to see their beautiful new look is receiving such positive feedback.

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South Coast Improvement Co. completes $725,000 pool renovation at Maplewood at Mayflower Place

Our renovation of the pool, locker room, and spa area at Maplewood at Mayflower Place, an assisted living facility in West Yarmouth, was featured in the New England Real Estate Journal. Residents are now enjoying a first-class exercise facility designed with safety in mind and an abundance of natural light.

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On Sep. 07, DMS joined the citizens of Salem at the groundbreaking for the new Mayor Jean A. Levesque Community Life Center. This long-anticipated civic center will not only serve as a hub for the Salem community, but will also play an integral part in the revitalization of the surrounding neighborhood. A pleasure to work with Mayor Kim Driscoll and the rest of her team. Also good to see state representation from Senator Joan B. Lovely and State Representative Paul Tucker!